Erros Seejattan, vice president of the T&T Scrap Iron Dealers Association, says the group is seeking a level playing field as they are at a major disadvantage with major players in the local market.
“These big companies like West Indian Metals are set up here and they sell scrap metal to mills in South East Asia. There are also foreign companies like Everest Metals. They are very big foreign companies but most of our local dealers are small mom and pop organisations. Competing against them are like David and Goliath all over again,” he told the T&T Guardian yesterday.
The T&T Scrap Iron Dealers Associations is holding talks with the foreign operators and the Ministry of Trade to find a solution. Their next meeting with the is scheduled for next week.”We do not want the rest of the world to think that we are hostile to foreign investment. We want a fair playing field,” he said.Seejattan said initially the foreigners were only supposed to buy from local dealers then export globally.
“Now they have set up shop here to squeeze locals from the market,” he said
“We have dealers from India, Pakistan, Argentina, China and all over the world. They were supposed to come here to buy scrap from us and ship it away. After the State of Emergency in 2011, they asked the government for licences to ship the material away. They got licences but it is the same licence we have as dealers, so instead of using to it to ship away they used it to start opening their own yards here and cutting us out by going directly to our customers. We were unable to compete with them as we sell to them,” he said.
Seejattan said the foreign scrap iron dealers tried the same thing in other Caribbean islands and were moved out of those markets.”It is not just in T&T, they are but all over the Caribbean but the other islands got them out and they turned to T&T. After all, T&T is the mecca of the Caribbean and we are the most industrialised. It has created competition.
“We would like to see control measures in place. There are more people coming in daily and eventually we will be eliminated. They have access to a lot of markets that we do not have,” he said.