Monthly Archives: December 2016

Happy Holidays from CTLD!

Dear Valued Readers,

Caribbean Trade Law & Development will be on Christmas hiatus from today until the New Year. At this time, I would personally like to thank you all for your readership and kind support throughout the year.

Here’s wishing you and your loved ones a very Merry Christmas (or Happy Holidays)  and a wonderful 2017!

In the meanwhile, please feel free to check out my most recent articles:

The Sustainability of Citizenship by Investment Programmes“. Global Residence and Citizenship Review Q3 2016. Henley Partners. Contact me.

The Trump Doctrine: A Re-write of US-Caribbean Trade Relations?” Caribbean Studies Association Newsletter – December 2016. Available here

Priorities for Strategic US-Barbados Relations Under a Trump Presidency“. Business Barbados – December 2016. Available here:

With best wishes,

Alicia

Caribbean Trade Law & Development

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Caribbean Trade & Development Digest – December 4- 10, 2016

Photo source: Pixabay

Caribbean Trade Law & Development is pleased to share some of the major trade and development headlines and analysis across the Caribbean region and the World for the weeks of December 4-10, 2016. 

For past issues of our weekly Caribbean Trade & Development Digest, please visit here.

To receive these mailings directly to your inbox, please follow our blog.

REGIONAL

IDB Warns of Low Rate of Exports in LAC

Jamaica Observer: The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) is warning of a lower rate of export contraction due to the stabilisation of commodity prices.Read more

Tourism Key to US-Caribbean Interests

Jamaica Observer: The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) has joined Caribbean-Central American Action (CCAA) in urging the US Senate to adopt the US-Caribbean Strategic Engagement Act of 2016 (HR 4939), which has already received bipartisan support in the House of Representatives, and which recently moved out of Senate Committee for consideration by the full Senate.Read more 

 

INTERNATIONAL

Dates fixed for 2017 Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires 

WTO: WTO members have agreed that the organization’s Eleventh Ministerial Conference (MC11) will take place from 11 to 14 December 2017 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The dates were endorsed at a 7 December meeting of the WTO’s General Council.. Read more

US Companies Dominate the Global Arms Trade Business

Forbes: According to new data on the international arms industry released by the SIPRI the world’s top 100 arms companies sold $370.7 billion worth of military equipment in 2015. Despite a 2.9 percent decrease on 2014, companies in the United States continue to dominate the trade, with 2015 sales amounting to $209.7 billion.. Read more

Beyond CETA: Building a Progressive Global Trade System 

Huffington Post (Canada): For the past 30 years, economic globalization has accelerated, and its effects are felt in nearly all economic areas and the day-to-day lives of many million people in various ways..Read more 

China challenges EU and US over Market Economy Status 

Financial Times:  China has launched a legal challenge against the EU and US over their reluctance to treat it as a “market economy” under World Trade Organisation rules..  Read more

 

For past issues of our Caribbean & Trade Development Digest, please visit here. To receive these mailings directly to your inbox, please follow our blog.

Article 50 UK Supreme Court case starts; Crown begins its submissions

Photo source: Pixabay

Alicia Nicholls

One of the most consequential and politically-sensitive constitutional law cases in United Kingdom legal history commenced on Monday before the Kingdom’s highest court. A panel comprising all eleven Supreme Court justices heard opening submissions from Attorney-General, Jeremy Wright QC and veteran government lawyer, James Eadie QC, on behalf of the Crown. Reiterating the arguments the Crown had made during the High Court case, both counsel for the Crown argued that the Government does not need to consult Parliament first in order to make its notification of withdrawal from the European Union (EU) under Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon as such power lies within the Crown’s prerogative powers – powers belonging to the sovereign (but mostly exercised by the executive branch) which may be exercised without requiring parliamentary consent.

Background

In a referendum held on June 23, 2016 the British people by a 51.9% to 48.1% majority voted in favour of the UK withdrawing from the EU. This led to the resignation of then Prime Minister, David Cameron, and his succession by Theresa May who despite not being part of the “Leave” campaign during the run-up to the vote has since vowed to uphold the will of the British majority with her famous words “Brexit means Brexit”. As part of this pledge, Prime Minister May has argued that the Government can by-pass a parliamentary vote on whether to trigger Article 50 due to the Royal Prerogative.

The Government’s argument was challenged by Mrs Gina Miller, a Guyanese-born British investment fund manager, and Deir Dos Santos, a Spanish-born hairdresser, who were the lead claimants in a case heard by the UK High Court on the matter. In its ruling  R (Miller) v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union the High Court sided with Mrs. Miller, holding that Article 50 could only be triggered by parliamentary action. The Crown promptly appealed the November 3rd ruling and it is this appeal which is currently before the Supreme Court.

Opening statements by Attorney General

In his opening submissions on Monday, counsel for the Crown, Mr. Wright reiterated that the majority of those who voted in the referendum supported the UK leaving the EU and that Article 50 provides the specific legal mechanism for doing so. He said the divisional court treated this fact as “legally irrelevant” and erred in concluding that it is only by parliamentary action that Article 50 can be invoked. He further argued that “use of the prerogative in these circumstances would not only be lawful, but fully supported by our constitutional settlement, in line with parliamentary sovereignty and in accordance with legitimate public expectations”.

He went on to explain the importance of the foreign affairs prerogative, which includes the power to make and unmake treaties, as “not an ancient relic”, but a “contemporary necessity”.  Acknowledging the UK constitutional law tenet of parliamentary sovereignty, Mr. Wright noted that where parliament has chosen to limit the prerogative, it has done so “sparingly” and “explicitly conscious” of the importance of prerogative powers to government business. A portion of Mr. Wright’s opening submissions may be watched on the Guardian’s site here.

Mr. Wright’s submissions were followed by government lawyer, James Eadie QC, who was asked several questions by the judges during the course of his submissions.

What’s at stake?

According to BBC reporting, the proceedings are expected to last four days and a decision is expected to be rendered in January. It should be reiterated that the matter being decided upon by the Supreme Court is not whether Brexit should take place, but whether the Crown in exercise of the Royal prerogative has the power to trigger Article 50, without first consulting Parliament. As the UK’s highest court, the court’s decision is final.

The stakes are high for the government as not only would the need for parliamentary approval endanger the deadline which Prime Minister May has set for the start of Brexit negotiations, but a possible constitutional crisis of sorts may ensue in the case where  MPs vote against the triggering of Article 50. The governments of Scotland and Wales have been given permission to “intervene” into the case. In Scotland, some 62% of voters had supported remaining in the EU. It should be noted as well that once Article 50 is triggered, it cannot be reversed.

Symptomatic of the public interest and polarisation which this case has generated, various news reports have indicated that there were long queues waiting to get into the court house, as well as protesters on both sides on the streets.

Court resumes tomorrow at 10:15 am (UK time). Please feel free to tune in to any of your favourite media houses for live coverage.

Alicia Nicholls, B.Sc., M.Sc., LL.B., is a trade and development consultant with a keen interest in sustainable development, international law and trade. You can also read more of her commentaries and follow her on Twitter @LicyLaw.

Caribbean Trade & Development Digest – November 20-December 3, 2016

Photo source: Pixabay

Caribbean Trade Law & Development is pleased to share some of the major trade and development headlines and analysis across the Caribbean region and the World for the weeks of November 20-December 3, 2016. 

For past issues of our weekly Caribbean Trade & Development Digest, please visit here.

To receive these mailings directly to your inbox, please follow our blog.

REGIONAL

Belize Senate criticises Belize-Guyana Trade Pact

7 News Belize: One of the motions which we didn’t get a chance to tell you about, was a resolution tabled by the Government. It authorizes the Barrow Administration to ratify a Framework agreement between the Governments of Belize and Guyana for bilateral cooperation.Read more

IDB Loan will support economic developent and foreign trade in Guyana

Caribbean News Now: Guyana will improve its public infrastructure and promote economic diversification and foreign trade with a US$9 million Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) loan that will help strengthen the economy and stimulate exports and investments. Read more

Guyana seeking to register Demarara as Geographical Indication

Stabroek: The Commercial Registry here has received applications for Demerara Sugar, Demerara Molasses and Demerara Rum. Minister of Foreign Affairs Carl Greenidge said that recapturing the name provides opportunities for producers to obtain market recognition. Read more

ExporTT Chairman: T&T must improve trade with EU

Trinidad Guardian: Incoming chairman of ExporTT Ashmeer Mohammed said the agency is committed to improving trade with the European Union (EU) and arresting the current decline in trade between T&T and the EU. Read more

Region’s exports fall five percent

Trinidad Guardian: The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean’s (Eclac) annual report Latin America and the Caribbean in the World Economy 2016 shows that the foreign trade dynamics of the region are having their worst performance in eight decades. Read more

Illicit Cigarette Trade Booming

LoopJamaica: The illicit cigarette trade now accounts for a fifth of the local market, according to cigarette distributor Carreras Limited. Read more

Entities partner to grow exports

JIS: Four private- and public-sector bodies have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU), agreeing to work together to grow national exports to US$2.5 billion by 2020. Read more

Belize and Jamaica squash “beef” over patties

Breaking Belize News: On November 17, Jamaica’s Minister of Industry, Karl Samuda successfully met with Minister of Trade and Commerce, Tracey Panton, in Guyana during the 43rd meeting of CARICOM’s Council for Trade and Development. Read more

Jamaica, EU discuss moving EPA to full implementation

Jamaica Observer: Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Kamina Johnson Smith, in highlighting the concerns of the Jamaica’s private sector about the challenges faced in accessing the European Union markets, said that Jamaica’s strength and advantages in its services sectors would be greatly unlocked if there was a special visa regime between CARIFORUM and European Union (EU) countries. Read more

Kenya: President Roots for Increased Trade between Kenya, Latin America & the Caribbean

allAfrica: President Uhuru Kenyatta has called for increased trade between Kenya, the Latin America and Caribbean regions.Read more

INTERNATIONAL

Maersk Line to Acquire Hamburg Süd

Maersk Line: Maersk Line and the Oetker Group have reached an agreement for Maersk Line to acquire Hamburg Süd, the German container shipping line. The acquisition is subject to final agreement and regulatory approvals. Read more

OPEC Reaches Oil Output Reduction Agreement

Global Trade Magazine: The thirteen members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) meeting in Vienna, reached an agreement yesterday to reduce oil output by 1.2 million barrels a day beginning next month. Read more

China says its will promote trade deals regardless of TPP, RCEP Direction

Reuters: China said it will actively participate in bilateral and multilateral trade deals, with the goal of deepening reform and opening up its economy, regardless of the direction the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) or the China-backed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) might take. Read more

Singapore leads global trade ranking for the fifth time

SBR:  Its domestic market is rated as world’s most open.Singapore topped the Global Enabling Trade Report 2016 once again.  Read more

EU-Georgia Free Trade Deal Boosting Trade Flows

Tax News: Trade flows between Georgia and the EU increased 16 percent in 2015, the first full year since the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) was provisionally applied.The EU-Georgia Association Agreement, which includes a DCFTA, was provisionally applied from September 2014. It fully entered into force on July 1, 2016. Read more

Sanders to introduce US ‘Outsourcing Tax’ Legislation

Tax News: US Senator Bernie Sanders has stated his intention to introduce legislation into Congress that would impose an “outsourcing tax” on companies moving jobs out of the United States, as well as stripping them of their US tax breaks and benefits. Read more

China urges U.S. to abide by WTO anti-dumping agreement

Reuters: China on Friday urged the United States to abandon a surrogate country approach it uses to calculate anti-dumping measures against Chinese exports, as a related clause in China’s World Trade Organization (WTO) deal is set to expire. Read more

MEPs reject call for Court Review of CETA

Tax News: The European Parliament has rejected a request by 89 Members of European Parliament to refer the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement to the European Court of Justice for an opinion.  Read more

China, New Zealand To Upgrade FTA

Tax News: The launch of negotiations to upgrade the existing China-New Zealand free trade agreement (FTA) was announced on November 21, following a meeting between Chinese Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng and New Zealand’s Trade Minister Todd McClay at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Lima. Read more

Next Round of RCEP Negotiations in Jakarta Dec 5

Economic Times: The single-tier system of duty relaxation under the proposed mega trade deal RCEP will be the central issue to be discussed at the next round of negotiations of 16 countries, including India and China, in Jakarta from December 5. Read more

WTO chief says no indication Trump wants to take US out of WTO

Reuters: World Trade Organization chief Roberto Azevedo said on Thursday he had no indication that U.S. President-elect Donald Trump wanted to withdraw the United States from the global trading body. Read more

NEW ON CARIBBEAN TRADE LAW & DEVELOPMENT

President-elect Trump’s trade team takes shape: What implications for the Caribbean?

Happy Independence! Tribute to Barbados at 50

Dominica Ratifies WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement

WTO Panel Rules Tax Incentive to Boeing a Prohibited Subsidy

Fidel Castro; Friend to the Caribbean & Anti-Imperialist Hero

TPP: Trump to withdraw from the Agreement on Day One

For past issues of our Caribbean & Trade Development Digest, please visit here. To receive these mailings directly to your inbox, please follow our blog.

 

President-elect Trump’s trade team takes shape: What implications for the Caribbean?

Photo source: Pixabay

Alicia Nicholls

US President-elect Donald Trump’s trade team is starting to take shape. A successful billionaire himself, Mr. Trump has so far stayed true to his promise of selecting business people as opposed to the traditional career politician for most of his Cabinet and administrative-level choices, with the selection of billionaire private equity investor, Wilbur Ross, as Commerce Secretary and Todd Rickets as Deputy Commerce Secretary. Former Goldman Sachs’ banker, Steven Mnuchin has been picked as Secretary of the Treasury. Mr. Trump’s pick for the US Trade Representative (USTR) has not yet been announced but it has been reported by POLITICO that Representative Charles Boustany is in the bidding for that post.

Mr. Trump’s pick for the head of the Department of Commerce, Mr. Ross, appears to share the President-elect’s skepticism of America’s current trade deals, calling them “dumb deals”, and to support the President-elect’s  broad trade policy proposals. In this interview with Fox’s Maria Bartiromo, Mr. Ross reiterated that theTrans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) “isn’t going to happen” and that the North American Free Trade Area (NAFTA) needs to be “fixed”. Mr. Ross has expressed a preference for bilateral trade agreements perhaps because it may be felt that the US might have more bargaining power in a bilateral deal. Personally, I would submit that this is a non-starter. Because of its economic prowess, large market size and the USTR’s team of skilled negotiators, the US has leverage even when negotiating with groups of countries. As I have argued elsewhere, the TPP’s investment chapter is with few exceptions basically a replica of the US model BIT.

So what does this mean for the Caribbean? As I have stated previously, the US is Caribbean countries’ largest trade and economic partner which means any changes in US trade and economic policy has implications for the region.

Except for the Dominican Republic which is part of the US-CAFTA-DR free trade agreement, US-Caribbean trade and economic relations are framed by the non-reciprocal Caribbean Basin Initiative (Caribbean Basin Economic & Recovery Act and the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act) and additionally for Haiti, the HOPE I&II and HELP Acts, as well as bilateral investment treaties and double taxation agreements where such exist between the US and individual Caribbean countries.

At some point the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) will want to negotiate a free trade agreement with the region’s largest trading partner as the aforementioned preference schemes are unilateral and can by ended by the US at any time, require WTO waivers and also do not include services trade. However, negotiating bilateral agreements with individual Caribbean countries, save maybe for Trinidad & Tobago and Jamaica which have populations (potential markets) of around 1,300,000 and 2,800,000, respectively, will make little economic sense for the US because of the small market sizes of most Caribbean countries.

Either way, this will be the team that regional leaders will have to interface with as we continue dialogue on the issues affecting US-Caribbean trade, as well as the correspondent banking/de-risking issue. Like all cabinet picks, these nominations will need to be confirmed by the Senate but seeing that Mr. Trump will be benefiting from a Republican-controlled Congress, it is unlikely there will be any major issues preventing their nominations.

Alicia Nicholls, B.Sc., M.Sc., LL.B., is a trade and development consultant with a keen interest in sustainable development, international law and trade. You can also read more of her commentaries and follow her on Twitter @LicyLaw.