Trinidad and Tobago to end ban on ferrous scrap exports

The government of Trinidad and Tobago will lift the prohibition on foreign shipments of steel scrap by 31 December. But the ban on in-demand copper will remain.

The measures were introduced in August to provisionally last six months to tackle the theft of infrastructure, notably copper and fibre optic cables from telcom TSTT which left tens of thousands of customers without telephone and internet services.

Legislation will be brought before parliament within weeks to regulate the scrap sector with the proviso traders will be banned from dealing in copper for at least a year, said attorney general Reginald Armour.

“The thinking behind running it for a year is that once the new legislation and regulations take effect, and we can get a regulated industry going forward, we will monitor the situation,” he was quoted as saying by the Trinidad Express newspaper.

“As we get more satisfied that we are now operating in a properly regulated scrap metal industry environment, we will keep under consideration the possibility of reducing that year. We will continue to have consultations with the stakeholders, and of course, continue to have consultations with the different entities who will be very badly injured with the vandalism and criminality that was occurring,” he added.

The Scrap Iron Dealers’ Association was happy with the outcome, especially given how many people are employed in this industry and the hardship the restrictions have caused, said association president Allan Ferguson.

But he disagreed it would take the government about a year to fully assess how to regularise the copper trade.

“Copper is the backbone of the industry. A lot of the money comes from this aspect. If steel is $1,500 per tonne, copper, at the moment, you might be able to get it at $29,000 per tonne, which is a very good price,” he said.

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