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The continued conflict over cement between Jamaica and the Dominican Republic

World Cement,

Karl Samuda, the minister of Industry and Commerce recently told reporters that imposing a licence on imported cement had become a necessary move after the Dominican Republic failed to adhere to an ultimatum issued by the country.

The now-expired ultimatum issued by the minister demanded the authorities of the neighbouring country allow a shipment from Kingston-based Caribbean Cement Company Ltd to be off-loaded there within 48 hours.

The clash has seemingly escalated with Samuda making good on his threat to take drastic action if the Dominican Republic continues to block the sale of Jamaican cement in their country. The minister is quoted as saying: "We hope that the Dominican Republic will come to the table and honour the terms of trade that reflect integrity and adherence to the rules that govern international trade," adding that the administration had so far elected to communicate via its cement organisation, ADOCEM.

ADOCEM is maintaining that the cement from Jamaica entered the country in breach of several regulations and procedures required for the production, import and marketing of the product.

Despite owning 5% of Caribbean Cement, and circa 20% of its parent company Trinidad Cement Limited, Cemex, a vocal member of ADOCEM, is asserting the Jamaican company's product is low grade – a charge with historical resonance from the company's distribution of faulty cement in its home market of Jamaica back in 2005-06.

In defence of the country's manufacturing base, ADOCEM is said to have threatened to take the official Institution for Standardisation, Quality, Certification and Metrology in the Dominican Republic, Digenor, to court. The organisation’s complaints also led to the seizure of the commodity by consumer rights agency Pro-Consumidor.

In response to the situation, a recent statement from Carib Cement welcomed the support from Karl Samuda in eliminating the barriers to entry into the Dominican Republic cement market.  

The official statement continued to say that the company has complied with all the requirements for entry into the Dominican Republic market. Both its product and laboratory were tested and audited by Digenor and were found to be satisfactory. In addition, independent product testing and certification were submitted by the Bureau of Standards Jamaica and the internationally recognised CTL Group Laboratories.

Jamaica’s only producer of Portland cement has affirmed that it will continue to pursue exports into the Dominican Republic market and will not be derailed or deterred by the local cement producers there.

In April of this year, Carib Cement shipped its first batch of 2500 t of cement to the Dominican Republic, with its intention to capture 10% of the market over time. Currently, the country has the capacity to absorb three million tpa of the commodity and is four times larger than the Jamaican market.

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