Chairman of the Four Square Rum Distillery, Sir David Seale (right), giving (from left) Minister of Economic Affairs, Empowerment, Innovation, Trade, Industry and Commerce, Dr. David Estwick; Permanent Secretary, Bentley Gibbs; and Trade Research??Officer of the Barbados Private Sector Trade Team, Jerson Badal, with a tour of the distillery. (A. Miller/BGIS)

The rum industry, which has lost some of its preferential trading arrangements, will get a lifeline from Government to help it stay afloat.

This assurance has come from Minister of Economic Affairs, Empowerment, Innovation, Trade, Industry and Commerce, Dr. David Estwick, during a tour of the island’s rum producing plants recently.

Speaking to reporters during the first stop at the Four Square Rum Distillery and Heritage Park, St. Philip, he identified high manufacturing input costs, as well as taxation, as among the challenges facing rum producers.

In light of this, he said Government was prepared to offer the industry some help. "It is going to be important that we find ways to keep down the input costs at the domestic level…," Dr. Estwick outlined.??

Additionally, the Economic Affairs Minister also spoke about the challenges to the industry posed by the excise tax. He stressed: "That pressure would have been brought by the international players who would want us under the [World Trade Organization] regulations and rules to ensure that there is harmony between the excise tax charged on imported alcohol versus domestically produced alcohol."

He further stated: "We have to comply with WTO rules, but we have to find a way to be able to create an alternative mechanism where you can reduce the tax in compliance, but create another dynamic, worked out over a period of time, that would not harm the industry’s competitive nature, given its importance to the Barbados economy."

Apart from the Four Square Rum Distillery, Dr. Estwick also toured Mount Gay Rum Distillery, Mount Gay, St. Lucy; and the West Indies Rum Distillery, Brighton, St. Michael.

He was accompanied by a 16-member delegation, including officials from his ministry, the Barbados Manufacturers’ Association, the Barbados Private Sector Trade Team and the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation.

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