The Government of Saint Lucia has received approval from the Council on Trade and Economic Development (COTED) to suspend the Common External Tariff (CET) on pharmaceuticals.
When the issue of the expiration date for the waiver of the CET came to the government’s attention in September of this year, both Prime Minister Allen Chastanet and Minister in the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ubaldus Raymond, stated the government’s commitment to request from COTED that the waiver be reinstated.
At the 43rd meeting of COTED held in Georgetown, Guyana from November 14 to 18, the Government of Saint Lucia was again able to obtain the support of other Member States to secure the removal of CET on pharmaceutical products for four years. This is expected to result in the import duty on such products being reduced to zero and should mean a commensurate reduction in retail prices on such commodities imported from November 2016 to November 2020.
The CET suspension on pharmaceuticals had been previously approved for the period May 1, 2012 to April 16, 2016. This meant that the old CET rates on pharmaceuticals were supposed to have been in effect from April 17, 2016, an automatic process administered by the Customs and Excise Department.
In September 2016, the Research and Policy Department of the Ministry of Finance was alerted to the change and the Customs and Excise Department reverted to the old CET rates on pharmaceuticals on Wednesday, September 21, 2016.
The government is thankful to COTED for its support in once again removing this tariff and thereby assisting in its effort to minimize the cost of healthcare.