The Government of Barbados is to launch an investigation into the imposition of an “illegal” duty on Bajan exports to Belize.

This was revealed today by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Industry, Ruth White, and endorsed by Minister Denis Kellman at the start of a familiarisation tour of Oran Limited, L&M Workshop and WIBISCO.

The announcement was in response to a complaint made by Chief Executive Officer of Oran, Scott Oran, while the touring party was at his Harbour Road plant.

Oran, which manufactures windows and doors, reported that certain products were being subjected to a 15 per cent duty, in contravention of the CARICOM trading arrangements.

The ministry officials agreed that there should be a zero rated duty on intra-Caribbean trade or five per cent at the most.

Oran said the 15 per cent charge, known as a revenue replacement duty, was even significantly higher than the CET – the tariff applied on extra-regional goods.

He lamented that the duty had put the company exports at a serious disadvantage with products imported from outside the Caribbean.

The veteran manufacturer noted he had already taken up the issue with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade.

White said the ministry would immediately investigate why Belize, which was part of CARICOM, was treating their Barbadian partners in this way.

In fact, she told Oran, the matter could be taken as far as the Caribbean Court of Justice, if required.

Oran, which exports to must of the region except Trinidad and Jamaica, is in the process of trying to get back into the twin-island republic market.

“Trinidad is a difficult market and Jamaica is unique,” Oran said.

The CEO of the Harbour Road manufacturing company said that despite experiencing “a soft” 2011, they did not retrench any of the company’s 300 employees.

However, he explained that the company had resorted to major promotions to make sure the local and regional markets were aware their products were still available at reasonable prices. (EJ)