NO: 321/2012 DATE: 11th December 2012
(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana)
Statement issued by the Thirty-Fifth Meeting of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED)
Threat to CARICOM Exports of Rum to the United States
The Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), meeting in Georgetown, Guyana, on 10-11 December 2012, underlined that rum production and export are critical to the social and economic well-being of the Region. In addition to being the largest agriculture-based export industry in CARICOM, the rum industry is a substantial employer and a major contributor to foreign exchange earnings and government revenues.
Therefore, CARICOM continues to have serious concerns about the threat to the competitiveness of Caribbean rum in the United States (US) market resulting from the massive subsidies provided by the Governments of the United States Virgin Islands (USVI) and Puerto Rico to multinational rum producers in those territories. The nature and scale of these subsidies are such that they threaten to distort rum markets not only in the US but elsewhere.
Time is not on the side of the Caribbean rum industry. Given the likely deleterious effect of these subsidies on the long-term viability of an industry which is of such critical importance to the economic fabric of so many countries in the Region, the COTED supports strongly the deep commitment of CARICOM countries to pursuing all avenues available to secure a resolution of this matter that restores the competitive balance in the marketplace.
The COTED calls on the United States to engage early with Caribbean rum-producing countries with a view to achieving an outcome that will support the continued competitive access for Caribbean rum to the US market.