… viability of industry threatened by US trade measurePresident David Grangerhas declared his commitment to providing much needed support to the local rum industry to ensure its survival and sustainability in the face of the major threat to its competitiveness on account of trade-distorting measures taken by the United States federal government.He made this declaration Monday last while addressing a gathering of industry leaders, the business community and the diplomatic corps who were present during the launch of Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL) El Dorado Grand Special Reserve 50th Anniversary Special Rum at the El Dorado Rum Heritage Centre.Caribbean countries stand to lose approximately US$700 million per annum if the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico are allowed to continue current arrangements in which the governments of those two United States possessions enjoy a tax rebate from the US Federal Government to provide huge benefits to companies to produce and market rum for the United States market.In 2012, Caricom countries had confronted the US on the unfair rum trade in the region and the worrying threat it poses on the competitiveness of Caribbean rum entering the US markets.Though the engagement proved to be futile, President Granger urged the Caricom nations to sustain its protests against the actions being taken by the US government.“The Caribbean Community’s Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) has protested against these discriminatory measures. They are seen as being inimical to the sale of Caribbean rums in the US market and threaten the “long-term viability of this very important industry on our region,” he expressed.He noted too that litigation in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) is likely to be an extremely expensive and exhausting process and therefore Caricom must use its diplomatic strength to help resolve this problem, which is affecting the health of economies and the wealth of countries.President Granger went on to underscore the importance of the rum industry to the local economy, acknowledging the country’s only two rum production companies (DDL and Banks DIH Limited) – which are also the two largest local corporations.He explained that because of the profitability of the rum enterprise, the two corporate giants earned the ability to diversify its operations into banking, fast food and shipping – ultimately creating thousands of jobs.In this regard, the President noted that Guyana’s rum industry is precious and it is therefore critical that it be protected and preserved in the face of the US government’s actions.“Workers jobs and the livelihood of those who indirectly depend on the industry are at stake. The loss of foreign exchange and excise earnings by the rum industry can result in severe problems in our economy.Guyana’s rums are an important economic sub-sector. It is in the national interest to ensure the survival and sustainability of this industry. The government of Guyana is committed to supporting the industry,” he stated.