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Jan 19, 2023

Minister Eamon Courtenay: Condensed Milk from CARICOM Should Bear No Price Increase

Housewives and bakers who use condensed milk for pastries and sweetener will be happy to learn that the price you pay for a can of condensed milk should not increase, once the brand you buy is from the CARICOM market. Brands that originate outside of the region, however, might see an increase of twenty percent, if they are made with vegetable oil and thirty percent more if they are made of animal fat. The price hike in the latter two comes about because of the Common External Tariff, which applies to all CARICOM countries once they import similar products from outside of the region. Since Jamaica can now produce seventy-five percent of the condensed milk that other CARICOM countries consume, the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED), by virtue of the CARICOM Single Market, stipulates that if fellow CARICOM countries choose to import condensed milk from outside of the region, the importers would be charged these significant tariffs. It’s a stipulation that guarantees the producing country a market, much like Belize in selling our sugar to CARICOM. At the end of the day, it’s a matter of choice for consumers, whether one opts for CARICOM condensed milk over Dutch Lady or Omela brands from other regions. But one thing should be clear, according to the Minister of Foreign Trade, Eamon Courtenay, that is: merchants and shop owners should not be using the opportunity to increase the prices of condensed milk coming from CARICOM, nor should they increase the prices of those from other regions to more than what the tariff is on that product.


Eamon Courtenay

Eamon Courtenay, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade

“Within CARICOM, if any country can produce up to seventy-five percent of regional demands within CARICOM of a product, then they’re entitled to ask CARICOM to put that product on what we call the list of non-eligibles, that you cannot get due to exemption for it. So, in the case of condensed milk, Jamaica produces now up to seventy-five percent. They can supply to the whole of CARICOM, which means that we will put a tariff of thirty percent on any condensed milk coming from outside the region. So, what does that mean for Belize? First of all, if our companies import from Jamaica, zero tariff, okay. Secondly, if they import from outside the region, there’s a thirty percent tariff only if the condensed milk is made from animal fat. Most of the condensed milk imported in Belize is made from vegetable fat. Vegetable fat under our tariff is twenty percent. Anyone who is importing from outside the region and bringing in vegetable (fat-based condensed milk) it’s twenty percent. So it’s a lower duty as a matter of fact. There should be choice and in any event, whichever of them, they should look at it and say this is a case of price-gouging and try to get it somewhere else.”

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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