Jamaica lifts metal export ban amid criticism about potential plundering
APKINGSTON -- Jamaica on Monday lifted a nearly two-year ban on scrap metal exports as it seeks to boost foreign exchange, but critics worry the country lacks safeguards against plundering of its metal infrastructure.
January 30, 2013, 12:24 am TWN
In July 2011, Jamaica's government shut down the metal trade to stop thieves from stripping public and private property to cash in on the sale of recyclable metals such as copper. Brazen thieves even dug up graves and pried metal from caskets.
But on Monday, the lucrative export trade — which grossed as much as US$100 million annually at its height in 2006 — was reopened after new regulations were put in place. The new measures include postings of police and customs officers at the island's three export yards and a requirement that metal exporters post a US$75,000 bond with a government office, in part to help compensate theft victims.
Any exporter who is convicted of theft will lose its operating license and pay a roughly US$21,500 fine, according to Anthony Hylton, Jamaica's minister of industry, investment and commerce.
Scrap metal thieves have been a problem across the globe for years as prices for copper and other recycled metals have remained high, driven largely by demand from China.