Matter to be heard at CCJ
BASSETERRE, St. Kitts - THE Government has been informed that it would face the court for allegations of breaching several sections of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas by reportedly importing sugar from outside the Caribbean Community.
St. Kitts and Nevis, and Trinidad and Tobago, along with the Caribbean Community, will now have to defend the allegations being put forward by sister CARICOM member-state Belize.
According to court filings, the Government of Belize alleges that the two CARICOM member states imported sugar from outside of the bloc at favorable rates, while failing to apply the “External Tariff of 40% on import of extra-regional brown sugar imported” in their jurisdiction from Guatemala and Honduras last year.
The National Assembly was told about the case by Minister of International Trade, Wendy Phipps yesterday (Oct. 15), where she reminded that St. Kitts and Nevis does not import sugar, so it is baffling why St. Kitts and Nevis is even mentioned.
“The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis does not import sugar into the Federation. Any importation done of sugar by the Government would have been brought to an end in 2015 when the supply office was closed,” the Minister noted.
The claimants in its legal filings asked the court to, among other things, declare that the two defendants failed to apply the Common Tariff; declare that the 1000 metric tons of brown sugar imported into St. Kitts and Nevis is a violation of Article 83 of the RTC and ordered that St. Kitts and Nevis and the other two defendants pay damages.
Minister Phipps explained what the filings really mean for St. Kitts and Nevis and Trinidad and Tobago.
“The intention is to commence proceedings against the two countries stated, which are St. Kitts and Nevis as well as Trinidad and Tobago...I would wish to state that Belize is accusing St. Kitts and Nevis, along with Trinidad and Tobago of importing sugar from Guatemala and Honduras without the application of the common external tariff on these goods. In other words, the state of Belize alleges that St. Kitts and Nevis has allowed these imports from Guatemala and Honduras to occur without the necessary taxes being paid,” Minister Phipps explained.
The Minister revealed that the allegations are for the period November 2018 to June 2020, which were alleged to have breached Articles 211(1)(a) & (b), 213 and 216 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas (“the RTC”), Article XII(l)(a) & (b) and XVI of the Agreement Establishing the Caribbean Court of Justice (“the Agreement”) and Part 10 of the Caribbean Court of Justice (Original. Jurisdiction) Rules 2019
According to reports the claim was filed at the Caribbean Court of Just on September 30.