Private sector entities are being urged to become more vigilant in monitoring, identifying, documenting and reporting suspected use of non-tariff measures (NTMs), which can affect trade. This call comes from Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. A.J. Nicholson, who noted that in the past, complaints regarding this issue have mainly been anecdotal. “We therefore urge you to acknowledge when issues have been resolved,” the Minster said, as he addressed the opening of a stakeholders’ consultation on NTMs affecting Jamaica at the Knutsford Court Hotel, in Kingston, on March 6. NTMs are policy measures on export and import, other than ordinary customs tariffs, that can potentially have an effect on the international trade of goods. Senator Nicholson noted that the Government is fully aware of the significant number of domestic companies that have reported burdensome and often times problematic formalities, procedures and measures in accessing regional markets. “Cognizant of the persistent increase in non-tariff measures, as tariff rates have declined, the Government of Jamaica is pursuing an active strategy of collaborating with private sector stakeholders to identify and document evidence of impediments to Jamaica’s trade in order to address this issue in bilateral, regional and international negotiations,” he said. In addition, the Minister said the Government is also working to improve its policy framework, quality infrastructure and level of certification of companies and procedures. He pointed out that monitoring and documenting these barriers are becoming increasingly important given the massive increase in the use of NTMs, within the multi-lateral trading system, which are often times subsequent to the elimination of tariffs. “In particular, developing countries like Jamaica are forced to comply with a wide range of technical regulations, product standards and administrative procedures that frustrate our efforts at market access,” he said. “Additionally, Jamaican manufacturers themselves, both importers and exporters, have also continually expressed concerns about the high cost of doing business in Jamaica, which arises from excessively onerous bureaucratic processes and arbitrariness in the approach to trade facilitation locally,” he said. The Minister said this is why the Government of Jamaica, through the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade; Industry, Investment and Commerce, and Agriculture and Fisheries, “have continued to pay close attention to developments within the multilateral trading system that may constitute unfair and undue barriers to trade.” Stakeholders met to discuss the preliminary findings of a survey on NTMs affecting Jamaica undertaken by the International Trade Centre (ICT), in partnership with the Foreign Affairs Ministry, between August 2011 and February 2012. The survey identified the main obstacles the Jamaican business sector currently faces when complying with NTMs at product, sector and partner country levels. The Minister noted that the findings of the survey “are extremely important, providing empirical evidence on barriers to trade whether real, imagined or perceived.” According to the ITC’s Executive Director, Patricia Francis, NTMs cover a wide range of issues, from technical regulations and certification requirements to procedural hassles in obtaining export permits or clearing customs. She noted that while NTMS have a legitimate aim, for example, when they are applied to protect human, animal and plant lives, or to ensure the security of the national borders, these measures “can also act as protectionist tools in which case they do not only act as barriers to trade, but can have a negative impact on the competitiveness of a country’s economy.” “Over the last decade, NTMS have become a major impediment to international trade and market access. It is an area of particular concern to exporters and importers, especially in developing countries,” she said.
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APTN National NewsDrivers will be putting the pedal to the metal this weekend in Montreal.They’re taking part in a NASCAR racing series.And two Mohawk racers are coming home to grab the checkered flag.APTN National News reporter Tom Fennerio has their story.
OTTAWA – Newly released documents to Canada’s finance minister suggest traditional hotels in two of Canada’s biggest cities have not fared badly as they face rising competition from online platforms like Airbnb.The April 18 memo to Finance Minister Bill Morneau says that average hotel occupancy rates in Vancouver and Toronto were higher than Airbnb listings between 2015 and 2017.Officials estimated that Airbnb’s share of total demand for rooms in the two cities roughly doubled since 2015. And while hotel occupancy rates didn’t decline over the same period, “it is possible they could have risen more than they actually did” if Airbnb and other platforms weren’t around.But “despite the rising occupancy rates,” Morneau was told in the briefing note obtained by The Canadian Press under the access to information law that the hotel industry still sees an unlevel playing field with Airbnb “as there is no tax” on the service.Pressure from domestic businesses had been building on the Trudeau government to apply sales taxes to online services providers like Airbnb and Netflix when Morneau was provided a breakdown on the situation between hotels and short-term rentals.Any recommendations to Morneau have been withheld from release because officials say it is sensitive ministerial advice.In April, a Liberal-dominated Commons committee urged Ottawa to make online service providers based outside the country collect and remit sales taxes as part of a series of recommendations to help Canada’s small businesses compete online.The platforms themselves have told federal officials they are open to applying sales taxes, but the Liberals have shied away from implementing the idea so far.On Tuesday, Airbnb announced it would provide the City of Ottawa with revenues from a four per cent hotel tax on its listings in the national capital starting Aug. 1, marking the second such tax agreement the online platform has finalized in Canada.Airbnb already collects and pays a 3.5 per cent lodging tax in Quebec that the company says totalled $2.8 million in fees to the province over the first six months of its tax agreement.The online company says the City of Ottawa could have received about $850,000 in tax revenue last year if a deal had been in place to collect the levy from 2,700 hosts.The briefing note to Morneau says that annual revenue from Airbnb was greater than that earned from long-term rental units, even though the short-term rentals were occupied on average for only half the year. Morneau was told listings in the west end and downtown Vancouver earned almost double the rental rates for a two-bedroom apartment.— With files from Andy Blatchford
The City of Fort St. John also today announced that the Grand Opening of the new Spray Park, which was planned to take place on Friday, has been postponed. The City’s Communications Coordinator Ryan Harvey said that the ceremony was postponed due to inclement weather that was forecast on Friday. Harvey added that a new date for the ceremony has not yet been announced, but that an announcement should be expected early next week. FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The City of Fort St. John received another cheque from the Rotary Club of Fort St. John for the renovations to the Rotary Spray Park.Mayor Lori Ackerman was on hand at the Rotary Club’s meeting on Thursday to receive a $20,000 cheque on behalf of the City. Both clubs raised the money over the last year through a number of fundraisers, including the Mega Lottery, Drive-thru Breakfast, and from selling the bricks that ring the newly-renovated spray park next to the North Peace Arena.Scott Wisdahl with the Rotary Club said that with today’s $20,000 donation, the Club reached a milestone with a cumulative total of $100,000 in donations for the spray park’s upgrades.