William Mahfood, head of one of Jamaica’s biggest distribution companies, Wisynco Group, is supporting the recent adverse ruling by CARICOM’s Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) on Jamaican manufactured soaps.
COTED has ruled that Jamaica, through the Trade Board, should not issue any Certificates of Origin for soaps manufactured under the current manufacturing process in Jamaica. Lack of a certificate of origin from Jamaica may require an importer in a CARICOM country to pay a tariff on imported Jamaican soap.
William Mahfood hinted that the recent ruling by COTED is fair and reasonable.
According to the Wisynco boss, “The recent ruling regarding the export of soaps in the region is fair based on the current regimes under a single market and economy. I believe that we must look to enhance our productivity and add more value to our manufacturing if we really want to compete with our extra-regional Latin American countries.”
He was speaking against the background of a push by private sector leaders across the Caribbean for an acceleration in the implementation of CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME). This is being done through their recently established regional private sector grouping, the CARICOM Private Sector Organisation (CPSO).
The CSME is an initiative of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) that would integrate member-states into a single economic unit. The end result would be the free movement of capital, services, technology and skilled professionals within the region.
Role of CPSO in accelerating CSME
CPSO, which is dedicated to the full implementation of the CSME, is alarmed at the slow pace of implementing the CSME in all its forms, given that the process has been limping along after more than 20 years of debates and much promises by member states.
Mahfood explains that one of the primary objectives and expectations of the CPSO is ”to hold the politicians across the region accountable on the CSME implementation. This would be our surest sign of success if we achieve the furtherance of these objectives.”
Paul B. Scott, who heads the Musson Group, is the Deputy Chairman of CPSO. He is particularly concerned about the free movement of labour and services, which he argued is currently not free at all.
CSPO is chaired by Gervase Warner, the CEO of Massy group in Trinidad with Mahfood selected as one of Jamaica’s representatives to the executive committee.