This country???s Commerce Minister, Donville Inniss, has given the United States of America a ???tongue lashing??? for not doing enough to help the region???s rum industry.

Speaking on Tuesday night at the West Indies Rum and Spirit Producers Association???s cocktail reception at Accra Beach Hotel, Mr. Inniss lashed out at ???our neighbour in the North???, for its decision in 2007 to impose a ???cover-over??? tax on spirits coming out the Caribbean and other parts of the world into the U.S.A.

Stating that this has made a significant challenge to the rum and spirit manufacturers in the region, the Minister added: ???I think what the United States of America has done is wrong, and it goes against the fundamental tenets of fair trade???It has done and can do considerable damage to the economies in the region, and we have been lobbying over and over again for that cover-over tax to be removed.???

Before an audience which included the European Union???s Ambassador, Mikael Barford, Mr. Inniss explained that the tax made it difficult for regional rum to compete in the U.S. market against similar products being manufactured in the United States Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

He praised the rum producers for focusing on niche markets, branding and pitching their products above what the competitors were offering. The Industry Minister also urged the local bars, restaurants and hotels around the region to serve West Indian products first and foremost.

???I do not think a visitor to the Caribbean should be getting the same experience that they get in the cities they come from. And, that rum experience must be part of their experience that they take back home,??? he opined.

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