Cayman has added Cuba, Colombia and Panama to the list of countries from which cement can be imported in a bid to ease the shortages within the local construction industry.

An amendment adding those three authorised countries to the Customs and Border Control (Prohibited Goods) Order came into effect on 14 July, according to a government press release.

Prior to this change to the law, cement could only be imported from Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Israel, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Honduras, United Kingdom and Commonwealth countries, the US and Venezuela.

In the release, Deputy Premier Chris Saunders said cement shortages had affected local homeowners making urgent repairs as well as larger-scale commercial construction projects, and that expanding the list of countries approved for cement importation would “provide much-needed cement supplies to the local construction industry and help prevent building delays”.

He said the shortage of cement on island meant supplies were regularly selling out before ships carrying them even arrive in port.

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“Companies are now able to source additional supplies of cement from new markets, allowing greater supply to meet the increasing local demand,” he said.

The release stated that the Customs and Border Control Service, with other local enforcement agencies, will ensure that “robust inspection and monitoring mechanisms are established with regard to the cement importation from new markets to ensure quality control and guard against any risks”.

COVID-19 has impacted supply chains globally, leading to construction materials worldwide being in high demand.

The cost of materials – including cement, copper, lumber and PVC – has escalated across the globe because of depleted production during the worst of the pandemic in 2020 and surging demand from economies coming out of lockdown this year.

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