T&T | Trinidad Scrap Iron dealers seek help from WTO to scrap export ban
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago, September 6, 2022 - PRESIDENT of the Scrap Iron Dealers Association Allan Ferguson wants the World Trade Organization (WTO) to prevail on the Trinidad and Tobago Government to end the six-month ban on scrap-metal exports from that country.
In a media release on Monday, Ferguson said he has dispatched a letter to the Switzerland based WTO director general Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala appealing for help, given that Trinidad and Tobago has been a member of the organisation since 1995, and hence Government must adhere to the WTO's guidelines and policies.
The ban which has been in effect from August 12 and will run until February 23 has already had a negative impact on the livelihood of thousands of people – the majority being from the lower income bracket – who depend on the industry for a living, Ferguson said.
He went on to note that the ban has also affected many Caricom citizens who depend on the export of scrap metals from Trinidad.
Ferguson explained that the ban was put in place as a means of clamping down on the export of scrap metals, demand for which has fuelled an upsurge in crimes including stealing items such as manhole covers, copper cable from TSTT, metal pipe fittings belonging to WASA and even a church bell.
The Scrap Metal Association President said the ban was instituted as the organization was trying to liaise with the Government to implement a new policy to help deter crime and vandalism.
The association claimed it has been begging the Government since 2013 to formulate and implement a new policy to regulate the industry.
Ferguson pointed out that during a meeting in 2019, Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon alluded to the importance of the scrap-metal industry to TT's economy.
He saidCentral Statistical Office (CSO) data showed that scrap metal exports rose from $69 million in 2009 to over $216 million in 2019.
For 2020, TT exported $20 million in scrap metal, making it the 75th largest exporter of the commodity in the world, Ferguson said.
"The TTSIDA views your intervention as important since this six-month ban is detrimental to the existence of the scrap iron industry in TT and its future," Ferguson said in his letter to the WTO.
"In light of this, we ask that you look into this matter given the information provided and for the much needed assistance or guidance our association is seeking at this time."