by Shawn Cumberbatch
The United States government has received a complaint wrongfully accusing Barbados of banning the exportation of “scrap metal”, and thereby harming the American steel industry.
In an unusual case of mistaken identity, Barbados TODAY investigations found, the American Iron and Steel Institute, which calls itself “the voice of the North American steel industry in the public policy arena”, incorrectly told the Office of US Trade Representative that Barbados “instituted a 60 day ban on exports of scrap metal in September 2012”.
It also referred Chair of the Trade Policy Staff Committee, Douglas M. Bell, to the September 28, 2012 edition of Barbados TODAY for confirmation.
The error made by AISI Senior Vice President, Public Policy and General Counsel, Kevin M. Dempsey, in his 33-page piece of correspondence, however, was that the information in that edition of this publication was in fact a story about Antigua and Barbuda.
It was confirmed today that Barbados has no such ban in place, although an official pointed out that Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite had announced plans to increase regulation of the metal industry here, primarily to control theft and other unlawful activity. While this intention was stated in May there was no mention of it in the October 15, 2012 letter to at the Office of the US Trade Representative, which is based in Washington D.C. Instead, Barbados was lumped together with a number of other countries, including its CARICOM neighbours Jamaica and Guyana.
The majority of complaints which related to various barriers to the trade of metal, including restrictions on imports, exports, investment and subsidies, were against international countries, mainly China and India. Antigua and Barbuda did not feature in the list of countries.
The AISI representative said Barbados and the others had introduced laws, policies and practices that would “severely distort global trade and are of particular concern to AISI and its members”.
“USTR should include the trade restrictions identified above in its 2013 National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers, and continue to work toward the elimination of these and other trade barriers worldwide,” Dempsey wrote.
“Foreign trade barriers distort international trade and are extremely harmful to US companies. Such restrictions act as barriers to US exports and investment, restrict US producers’ access to raw materials, and create an un-level playing field in international competition by unfairly advantaging certain countries’ manufacturers to the detriment of US producers,” he complained.
In May this year the Attorney General said there was a proposal to amend the Old Metal Dealers Act and the Sale of Old Metal Act to introduce tough penalties as part of a greater regulated industry.
This included a recommendation of two years in jail or $10,000 in fines or both on summary conviction and $50,000 or 10 years behind bars or both on an indictable charge. Commissioner of Police Darwin Dottin has also voiced concerns about metal theft, especially copper.