Monthly Archives: October 2017

COP23: Five Negotiation Priorities for Small Island Developing States (SIDS)

Alicia Nicholls

In about a week’s time, delegates from over 190 countries will convene in Bonn, Germany for the 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP23) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). During this round of climate negotiations, which will last from November 6-17th, the parties will continue work on implementation guidelines for the Paris Climate Change Agreement signed at COP21 in December 2015.

Despite United States’ President Donald Trump’s statement in June that the United States would be withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, there is some cause for optimism that this year’s COP negotiations will bear fruit. For the first time, a small island developing state (SIDS), the Republic of Fiji, has assumed the presidency of COP and brings to this task first-hand experience from the front lines of the climate change battle.

Secondly, recent natural disasters worldwide have brought increased international attention to the devastating effects of climate change and the need for urgent action on reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. This point was well-made by President of Fiji, Mr. Frank Bainimarama, who stated at a Pre-COP Ministerial Meeting held on October 17 in Fiji that:

“We can no longer ignore this crisis. Whether it is fires in California, Portugal and Spain. Flooding in Nigeria, India and Bangladesh. The dramatic Arctic melt. Ice breaking off the continent of Antarctica. The recent hurricanes that devastated the Caribbean and the southern United States. Or the hurricane that has just struck Ireland and Scotland – the tenth hurricane of the Atlantic season this year. It’s hard to find any part of the world that is unaffected by these events.”

Thirdly, except for the US, political will among the world’s most powerful nations has coalesced on the side of climate action. The 19 other G20 countries reaffirmed their “strong commitment” to the Paris Agreement, calling it “irreversible” in their Summit Declaration following the Hamburg meeting in July.

Below are five key likely priorities for SIDS as they go into the negotiations:

  1. Scaling up Climate Finance to SIDS

At COP15 in 2009, developed countries committed to jointly mobilise USD 100 billion annually by 2020 to meet the mitigation and adaptation needs of developing countries. According to an OECD study, climate-related concessional finance has increased in both absolute terms and as a percentage of total concessional development finance, however annual commitments for 2014 were still 20% of the USD100 billion goal.

SIDS often find it difficult to attract private financial inflows for development purposes due to their small size and economies, and current financing levels do not meet their current needs. Moreover, current graduation criteria have made some middle and upper income SIDS, like those in the Caribbean, ineligible for certain types of concessional financing.

Pledged contributions, whether to the Green Climate Fund or otherwise, also do not necessarily always lead to timely disbursement, and there is the need for guidelines and protocols for incorporating the Adaptation Fund established at COP7 into the Paris Agreement’s framework.

Finding innovative and effective ways to attract and increase financial flows, including from both public and private and bilateral and multilateral sources, will be key. For example, Fiji became the first developing country to issue a sovereign green bond, with technical support from the World Bank, to support the country’s mitigation and adaptation efforts.

  1. Loss and damage

Loss and damage was one of the most contentious topics in the negotiations leading up to the Paris Agreement and was strongly lobbied for by SIDS and LDCs as they are the least culpable but most vulnerable to the harshest impacts of climate change. The concept recognises that there is some irreversible damage which cannot be avoided through mitigation and adaptation strategies.

The Paris Agreement has recognised the concept of ‘loss and damage’ as a distinct concept of climate action and has made the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage permanent. It, however, does not deal with liability or compensation, something which developed countries were adamant they did not wish to be included. The softer language used in Article 8, which, inter alia, itemises areas for cooperation and facilitation, is reflective of these developed country concerns.

The costliness of this year’s Atlantic hurricane season is an important background against which SIDS should call for greater discussion on concretely addressing loss and damage, including the successful launch of the Clearing House for Risk Transfer which is slated to take place at COP23.

  1. Adaptation and Mitigation

Developed countries’ continued and increased support will be necessary to assist SIDS in implementing national climate action plans, policies and projects in order to build climate resilience. This support for adaptation and mitigation includes not just financial support, but technology transfer and capacity building and technical assistance.

Certain groups within societies are particularly vulnerable to climate change, including women and children, the disabled and indigenous and rural communities. As such, the COP23 negotiations will involve operationalizing the Gender Action Plan and the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platforms.

  1. More ambitious NDCs

Some 163 parties have already submitted their Nationally Determined Contributions which outline their emission reduction targets toward meeting the goal set out in Article 2 of the Paris Agreement of keeping average global temperature increase to no more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and as close as possible to 1.5 degrees Celsius. These NDCs may be found at the interim NDC registry.

However, the May 2016 synthesis report on the aggregate effect of INDCs showed that a higher level of ambition will be needed in order to reach the goal in Article 2.

SIDS will want all parties to communicate to more ambitious NDCs after 2018 in order to meet the temperature goals in the Agreement and in keeping with the Article 4(3) commitment of communicating successively progressive NDCs.

  1. Preparations for Facilitative Dialogue 2018

The Facilitative Dialogue which will take place in 2018 will be the first initial opportunity under the Paris Agreement to take stock of parties’ collective progress in a transparent manner towards meeting the Agreement’s long-term goal and inform the preparation of NDCs. It will be a precursor to the Global Stock Take, the first of which will take place in 2023 and will occur every five years thereafter.

The Facilitative Dialogue 2018 will be launched at COP23 and parties will need to organise and decide on the procedures, events and expected outcomes in time for its convening. The President of Fiji, who must be commended on his country’s excellent work on preparations for COP23 to date, has indicated that these talks will approached on the principle of ‘talanoa’, a Pacific concept which values inclusive, participatory and transparent dialogue.

A copy of the negotiating agenda for COP23 (current as at this date) may be viewed here.

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.

 

Advertisements

Caribbean Trade and Development Digest – October 22-28, 2017

Welcome to the Caribbean Trade and Development Digest for the week of October 22-28, 2017! We are pleased to share some of the major trade and development headlines and analysis across the Caribbean region and the World. We hope you enjoy this edition.

REGIONAL

Rowley talks trade with Mexico at CARICOM Summit

Trinidad Express: According to a statement from the Office of the Prime Minister, Rowley has asked Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto to immediately consider the development and implementation of a partial scope trade agreement which will allow Trinidad and Tobago manufactured goods access to the Mexican market. Read more

Get cracking: EU wants region to get to work on CSME; EPA

Barbados Today: Barbados and its Caribbean Community (CARICOM) neighbours have been told to get cracking on the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Single Market and Economy (CSME) and the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with Europe. Read more

South Africa set to boost trade with Cuba

allAfrica: The upcoming Havana International Fair will further advance relations between South Africa and Cuba, says Trade and Industry Deputy Minister Bulelani Mangwanishe. Read more

Haiti-DR. Towards a border resident card to facilitate trade?

Haiti Libre: Director of the National Institute of Migration (INM) of the Dominican Republic encourages the Directorate General of Migration (DGM) to create a border resident card, which would facilitate the movement of people who depend on binational trade in areas border with Haiti. Read more

India eyes trade deals with Central American, Caribbean Countries

Times of India: India is looking to expand its trade footprint in America with initial discussions initiated in the government for a possible free trade agreement (FTA) with Caribbean and Central American countries and a logistics hub in Panama to help shipment of goods. Read more

China, Cuba sign agreements to expand economic, trade ties

China Daily: China and Cuba on Wednesday signed five cooperation and legal agreements, which reaffirm the willingness of both nations to strengthen and expand their economic and trade relations. Read more

Mexican President and CARICOM meet in Belize

Amandala: Oct. 26, 2017–Belize hosted a historic meeting between heads of government of CARICOM and the president of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto at the Best Western Belize Biltmore Plaza on Wednesday, October 25, 2017. Read more

Mexico gives USD$14 million to CCRIF

The Reporter: The Government of Mexico will contribute $14 Million to the CARICOM Catastrophe Risk Insurance Fund (CCRIF), Mexico’s President, Enrique Peña Nieto confirmed at the IV CARICOM-Mexico Summit. Read more

CARICOM should seek to deepen ties with BRICS

Stabroek: An opinion piece by a staff writer at Stabroek. Read more

Barbados and Italy Double Taxation Agreement enters into force

Nation News: The Double Taxation Agreement (DTA) between the Government of Barbados and the Italian Republic has entered into force in accordance with Article 30 of the Agreement. Read more

INTERNATIONAL

UK, EU send proposal to rest of WTO

Reuters: Britain and the European Commission formally told other members of the World Trade Organization on Wednesday how they plan to split up the European Union’s WTO-agreed tariff quotas and farm subsidies after Brexit. Read more

Turkey, Pakistan finalise free trade agreement talks

Xinhua: Turkey and Pakistan have finalized negotiations on free trade agreement (FTA), and wished to sign the deal as soon as possible, Turkish Customs and Trade Minister Bulent Tufenkci said on Friday. Read more

NAFTA Uncertainty already hurting growth, Bank of Canada says

Bloomberg: Uncertainty about U.S. trade policy will reduce investment growth by 0.7 percentage points and export growth by 0.2 percentage points in both 2017 and 2018, according to projections in the Bank of Canada’s quarterly Monetary Policy Report, released Tuesday in Ottawa. Read more

Infrastructure deficit remains major challenge to intra-Africa trade: ECA

Xinhua: The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) has reiterated that infrastructure deficit in Africa remains a major challenge to trade facilitation, intra-regional trade as well as economic development and transformation on the continent. Read more

Trudeau dismisses concerns free trade with China will hurt Canada-US relationship

CBC: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said strengthening trade ties with China does not put the Canada-U.S. relationship at risk, shrugging off concerns raised Thursday by a member of his NAFTA advisory council. Read more

PM Lee urges the US to uphold free trade and sustain economic ties with Asia

Today Online: The United States’ relations with Asia has not “been turned upside down” despite the different approach taken by the Trump administration on some issues, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in urging Washington to uphold free trade and sustain economic engagement with the region. Read more

RCEP deal unlikely this year, says South Korea official

Nikkei Asian Review: An agreement to create a free trade zone among 16 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, including China, Japan, India and South Korea, is not expected before the end of the year, said a South Korean representative in charge of the negotiations on Friday. Read more

WTO issues compliance panel reports on revised US “dolphin-safe” tuna labelling measure

WTO: On 26 October the WTO issued the panel reports in the cases brought by the United States and Mexico in “United States – Measures Concerning the Importation, Marketing and Sale of Tuna and Tuna Products – Recourse to Article 21.5 of the DSU by the United States” and “United States – Measures Concerning the Importation, Marketing and Sale of Tuna and Tuna Products – Second Recourse to Article 21.5 of the DSU by Mexico” (DS381). Read more

Canada in bid to limit Brazil aircraft subsidy probe at WTO

Reuters: Canada has urged the World Trade Organisation to block attempts by Brazil to trigger a detailed investigation of its aerospace industry to buttress its case that subsidies to Bombardier caused “serious prejudice” to Brazil’s Embraer. Read more

Move to introduce ‘gender inclusivity’ in the WTO

The Hindu Business Line: Waking up to the need to enable more women to participate in international trade, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and a group of member countries are making efforts to get a joint declaration on gender and trade to be adopted at the Buenos Aires Ministerial meet in December. Read more

Colombia looks to expand free trade deals with Pacific region countries

The City Paper (Bogota): Colombia wants its share of the Asia Pacific trade pie as it joins the three other member nations of the Pacific Alliance (Chile, Peru and Mexico) in free trade talks with Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. Read more

Germany, UK will gain the most from an India-EU free trade deal

The Hindu Business Line: Germany and the UK will witness the highest absolute gains if the proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between India and the European Union (EU) is concluded, states a study conducted by the Bertelsmann Stiftung of Germany. Read more

Former WTO boss warns Brexit trade agreement could take seven years

The Express: A FORMER World Trade Organisation (WTO) Director-General warned that Britain’s worst option post-Brexit would be to trade under WTO rules, amid claims that Britain is preparing for Brexit talks to fail. Read more

‘Decision on fishing subsidies certain in WTO’s Dec meet’

The Hindu: An agreement on elimination of ‘harmful’ fisheries subsidies is likely to be the only major outcome at the forthcoming meeting of the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) highest decision-making body called the ‘Ministerial Conference’. Read more

European Parliament votes for trade deal with New Zealand

Radio New Zealand: The European Parliament has voted to press ahead with plans to do a trade deal with New Zealand. Read more

Liked this issue? To read past issues of our weekly Caribbean Trade & Development Digest, please visit here. To receive these mailings directly to your inbox, please follow our blog.

Mexico and CARICOM agree new areas for technical cooperation

Photo credit: Pixabay

Alicia Nicholls

Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries and the Government of Mexico have approved the seventh Mexico-CARICOM Technical Cooperation Programme (2017-2019). This was one of the main outcomes of the Fourth CARICOM-Mexico Summit held this week on October 25, in Belize City, Belize. Hailed as “a new paradigm” in cooperation between CARICOM and the Government of Mexico, the new programme will include both existing and new priority areas for development cooperation which align with those identified in the CARICOM Strategic Plan 2015-2019 and the global development agenda.

Mexico and CARICOM have enjoyed four decades of diplomatic cooperation and friendship.  At the Third Mexico-CARICOM Summit in 2014 President of Mexico, His Excellency Enrique Pena Nieto had pledged his Government’s desire to build on and deepen those ties.

The discussions at  Wednesday’s summit touched on several areas of cooperation, including trade and investment, public health, education, cultural cooperation, technical assistance, and cooperation on the global development agenda. A member country of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Mexico has the world’s eleventh largest economy according to International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecast data for 2017. This makes Mexico a potentially powerful voice and ally on international issues of interest to the Caribbean, including climate action,  de-risking and the need for multilateral financial institutions to revisit graduation criteria for official development assistance.

Disaster risk management was a major focus of the talks, as CARICOM countries and Mexico have both suffered significantly at the hands of natural disasters this year. Powerful hurricanes Irma and Maria caused major loss of life and damage in several Caribbean Islands, most tragically in Barbuda and Dominica. In September as well, Mexico was struck by Hurricane Katia around the same time that it was reeling from two devastatingly strong earthquakes within a two week span which claimed over 200 lives.

In addition to pledging their continued support for the Paris Climate Change Agreement, the CARICOM and Mexico heads of government/State agreed to a Mexico-CARICOM Strategy for Comprehensive Disaster Risk Management which, according to the summit’s official declaration, will comprise the following three main lines of work:

  1. strengthening initiatives already in place
  2. developing a complementary cooperation agenda, such as early warning, awareness raising, emergency response, among others
  3. joint action in multilateral fora and international mobilization to further strengthen and support Caribbean institutional capabilities for disaster risk management

The Mexican Government also made a US14 million grant to the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF SPC), a regional catastrophe fund formed in 2007 and which has had to pay out about US$50.7 million since the start of the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season alone!

They have also agreed to support the establishment of a hydrometeorological monitoring centre for the Caribbean region and to collaborate to ensure  the success of the CARICOM-hosted International Donor Conference planned for November 21, 2017 at the UN Headquarters, New York. This conference will seek to mobilise assistance for those hurricane-struck Caribbean islands.

The Government of Mexico has also offered 150 scholarships for training Caribbean teachers of Spanish as a second language. This would assist in reducing the language barrier which would be one of the impediments for CARICOM exporters seeking to enter the Mexican market. According to data quoted in the CARICOM press release before the meeting, “between 2012 and 2016, imports from Mexico to CARICOM exceeded exports from CARICOM to Mexico, with Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Belize, Barbados and Guyana being the main importing countries, accounting for 95 % of imports from Mexico between 2014 and 2016”.

The Joint Declaration of the CARICOM-Mexico Summit may be accessed here.

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.

ACP Trade Ministers demand ‘concrete outcomes’ at upcoming WTO MC11

Alicia Nicholls

Trade ministers and other representatives from the 79-member Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries added their voices to demands for ‘concrete outcomes’ at the upcoming World Trade Organisation’s Eleventh Ministerial Conference (WTO MC11). Preparations for the upcoming WTO MC11 was one of several topics discussed by ACP trade representatives at their 20th ACP Ministerial Trade Committee meeting held in Brussels on 18-19 October last week.

According to the press release from the meeting, the ACP representatives  reiterated the need for a development-friendly and robust MC11 work programme which recognized differences between developed, developing and least developed countries and whose outcomes were aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Reaffirming their commitment to the multilateral trading system, they also called for “inclusiveness, consensus and transparency in all WTO decision-making processes, as well as careful framing of any reform evaluation of the WTO to ensure that the interests of all countries are protected”. Guyana was chosen to be the spokesperson for the ACP Group at the Ministerial which will take place in Buenos Aires December 10-13, 2017.

In a speech delivered at the ACP meeting, the WTO’s Director General, Roberto Azevedo, acknowledged the important role ACP countries have played in shaping the WTO’s work.

Mr. Azevedo gave a brief status report on the WTO’s preparatory work for the upcoming Ministerial Conference, lauding the ACP countries for being at the “forefront” of these discussions. He noted that although there were some positive signs, the many gaps to bridge meant that there was still much work ahead with respect to the negotiations.  He further reiterated that in order to achieve concrete results in Buenos Aires, “more focused engagement and negotiation will be required to quickly identify areas of convergence”.

In the meeting which was chaired by the Hon. Carl Greenidge, Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, ACP trade representatives also focused on several  other topics of importance to ACP countries’ trade, including enhancing trade among ACP countries and trade issues with the European Union (EU).

The ACP press release also notes that ACP representatives have committed to “increased integration, unity and solidarity” among ACP countries, including taking more “joint ACP approaches to trade and development”.

The press release from the ACP can be read here.

The WTO Director-General’s full speech can be read here.

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 and Development Digest – October 15-21, 2017

Welcome to the Caribbean Trade and Development Digest for the week of October 15-21, 2017! We are pleased to share some of the major trade and development headlines and analysis across the Caribbean region and the World. We hope you enjoy this edition.

REGIONAL

Cuba, T&T trade ties growing, says Cuba ambassador

Trinidad Guardian: Despite the American economic embargo against Cuba, T&T businesses continue to show interest in commercial ties with the island said Cuban Ambassador Guillermo Vázquez Moreno. Read more

(Jamaica) Senate passes law to speed up exports

Jamaica Gleaner: The Senate yesterday passed legislation amending the Processed Food Act and the Processed Food (General) Regulations, 1959, removing the requirement for export certificates to facilitate the implementation of the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA). Read more

COTED green-lights Agriculture Regional Emergency Response Team

ST Kitts & Nevis Observer: The Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) has approved the Regional Agriculture Emergency Response Sub-Committee to provide prompt action to help the agriculture sector in Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member states to rebound after natural disasters. Read more

CARDI ready to take action to rebuild agriculture in Barbuda, Dominica

Caribbean News Now: The Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) has already begun taking action to restore the battered agriculture sectors in Barbuda and Dominica. Read more

UWI launches Centre for Reparations Research

Jamaica Observer: The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, this week officially launched Centre for Reparation Research at the campus. Read more

Meat safety training for Caribbean countries

Jamaica Observer: A two-day regional training workshop covering hygiene provisions for raw meat, meat preparations and manufactured meat from the time of live animal production up to the point of retail sale, gets underway here on Tuesday. Read more

INTERNATIONAL

ACP trade ministers reaffirm commitment to multilateral trade system

Caribbean News Now: Ministers and senior officials responsible for trade from 79 African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries reaffirmed their strong and resounding commitment to the multilateral trading system, at the conclusion of the 20th ACP Ministerial Trade Committee meeting held in Brussels on 18-19 October. Read more

Ukraine files WTO Complaint over Russia, import, transit restrictions

WTO: Ukraine has requested WTO consultations with Russia regarding Russian measures affecting trade in certain products such as juice, alcoholic beverages, confectionery and wallpaper from Ukraine. The request was circulated to WTO members on 19 October. Read more

Dubai set to host Africa trade summit

The Standard: Dubai will this November host African heads of State and business leaders at a forum to discuss the continent’s economic outlook and investment opportunities for countries in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Read more

Canada ‘extremely worried’ about NAFTA: Ambrose

CTV: Behind the scenes Canadian officials are “extremely worried” about where the North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations are headed, and it’s time to be worried, says Rona Ambrose, a member of Canada’s NAFTA Advisory Council. Read more

UK Trade Secretary Dismisses ‘Nightmare’ of No-deal Brexit

Bloomberg: U.K. International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said leaving the European Union without a deal for future business isn’t a “nightmare scenario” for Britain. Read more

US will not interfere in EU trade with Iran, says Tillerson

Reuters: The United States does not aim to impede European trade and business transactions with Iran despite President Donald Trump’s decision last week to decertify the 2015 nuclear agreement, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told the Wall Street Journal. Read more

‘We need trade deals’: Swedish PM opposes Macron’s call to slow down

The Local: Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has said he opposes moves by French President Emmanuel Macron to slam the brakes on free trade deals. Read more

New Zealand’s Ardern wants to balance trade pact with housing pledge

Bloomberg: Incoming leader Jacinda Ardern says New Zealand will still seek membership in the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership even as she strives to honor her election campaign pledge to clamp down on foreign property speculators. Read more

Details of a massive trade deal among 11 heavyweight economies may be announced next month

CNBC: Ten months after President Donald Trump abandoned what was pegged as the world’s biggest trade deal, its surviving participants may be close to a new agreement. Read more

US pushes ‘fair trade’ as economic talks with Japan advance

Bloomberg: The Trump administration is advocating for a more balanced trade relationship with Japan as high-level economic talks with the Asian nation advance this week in Washington, according to Vice President Mike Pence. Read more

WTO: On 17 October the WTO issued the panel report in the case brought by Brazil in “Indonesia – Measures Concerning the Importation of Chicken Meat And Chicken Products” (WT/DS484). Read more

Azevedo underlines growing importance of services trade

WTO: Speaking at the Global Services Summit in Washington D.C. on 17 October 2017, Director-General Roberto Azevêdo highlighted that trade in services accounts for almost 50 per cent of world trade today. Read more

Afghanistan and Brazil welcomed as observers to WTO Government Procurement Agreement

WTO: The WTO Committee on Government Procurement agreed on 18 October to grant observer status to Afghanistan and Brazil. Members welcomed Afghanistan’s commitment to seek eventual accession to the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA). Some also expressed hopes that Brazil might, in the future, consider acceding to the Agreement. Read more

Liked this issue? To read past issues of our weekly Caribbean Trade & Development Digest, please visit here. To receive these mailings directly to your inbox, please follow our blog.

 

Caribbean Trade and Development Digest – October 8-14, 2017

Welcome to the Caribbean Trade and Development Digest for the week of October 8-14, 2017! We are pleased to share some of the major trade and development headlines and analysis across the Caribbean region and the World. We hope you enjoy this edition.

REGIONAL

COTED approves of poultry plants to sell products within CARICOM

Jamaica Observer: Nine poultry processing plants in the region have been approved to trade among member states as the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) continues to move steadily towards increasing intra-regional and food security, the Guyana-based CARICOM Secretariat has announced. Read more

Column:Brexit’s Impact on British Overseas Territories

Bernews: An opinion column written by Paul Hare. Read more

CARICOM to push for concessionary funding during meetings with US next week

Jamaica Observer: Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries will use “important meetings” in the United States next week to push the international community to re-think its policies regarding regional countries that are no longer eligible for concessionary loans and other forms of preferential treatment, St Lucia’s Prime Minister Allan Chastanet said on Friday. Read more

INTERNATIONAL

We’ve got the A-Team of talks, says Liam Fox

Express UK: International Trade Secretary Liam Fox has hit back at claims his negotiators don’t have enough experience to strike deals with the US and other countries post-Brexit, describing them as the “A-Team”. Read more

South Africa committed to enhancing Intra-African trade

allAfrica: President Jacob Zuma says South Africa remains committed to boosting intra-African trade, which will be equitably beneficial for all participating countries. Read more

Mexico, Canada pledge trade unity as NAFTA negotiations continue

The Hill: Mexico and Canada are vowing to continue work on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) after an unproductive fourth round of negotiations in Washington. Read more

Japan exasperated by Trump’s trade policies

Politico: Japanese officials are expressing growing frustration with the Trump administration’s economic policies, vowing to continue striking trade deals with other countries that undercut U.S. agricultural exports rather than seek a new trade agreement with the United States. Read more

Turkey, Indonesia agree to trade talks

Anadolu Agency: Indonesian and Turkish governments on Thursday agreed to start negotiations on the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) in November in an attempt to further strengthen economic cooperation between the two countries. Read more

Pacific Trade Advances without the US

Wall Street Journal: The Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact is regaining momentum despite the Trump Administration’s January decision to withdraw. Representatives of the remaining 11 TPP members met last month in Japan to push for ratification as early as November in the hope that Washington will rejoin. Read more

UK and EU formally inform of post-Brexit tariff quota plan

The Guardian: Britain and the EU have formally informed members of the World Trade Organisation how they plan to split up the EU’s tariff quotas and farm subsidies after Brexit in a plan already rejected by the White House. Read more

WTO DG Azevedo tells ministers more commitment is needed to deliver success at MC11

WTO: At an informal ministerial gathering in Marrakesh on 9-10 October, hosted by Morocco and Argentina, Director-General Roberto Azevêdo told ministers that there were some promising issues on the table, but in all areas there remains a long way to go in order to deliver a successful outcome at the 11th Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires in December. Read more

Qatar escalates UAE trade dispute

Reuters: Qatar has asked the World Trade Organization to set up a dispute panel to adjudicate on its row with the United Arab Emirates, Qatar said in a document published by the WTO on Thursday, escalating a trade complaint it lodged with the WTO in July. Read more

India and EU to look at ways to restart trade pact talks

The Economic Times: India and the European Union plan to take stock of the proposed free trade agreement negotiations next month and explore ways to put in place a framework to resume the stalled talks. Read more

Economist sees merit in Pacific trade deal (PACER Plus)

Radio New Zealand: An economist says the PACER Plus trade agreement still has benefits for smaller Pacific states, despite two of the region’s bigger economies not signing up to the deal. Read more

Pangolin trade forces Ghana to look at new wildlife laws

Sunday Times: Ghana is facing calls to update its laws on wildlife crime after fears the country has become a transit route for the illegal trade in pangolin scales. Read more

Asia-Pacific Services Trade needs more harmonised regulation

Asia Times: Preliminary research has found that it is in the best interest of Asia-Pacific services trade partners in emerging sectors to access the largest possible legal framework, and from within that framework raise the standards of membership in terms of domestic regulation harmonization. Read more

Liked this issue? To read past issues of our weekly Caribbean Trade & Development Digest, please visit here. To receive these mailings directly to your inbox, please follow our blog.

Caribbean leaders place spotlight on climate change at UNGA

“To deny climate change is to deny a truth we have just lived” – The Honourable Roosevelt Skerrit, Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica

Alicia Nicholls

These powerful words uttered by Prime Minister of Dominica, The Honourable Roosevelt Skerrit were perhaps the most memorable from the United Nations’ General Assembly (UNGA) seventy-second session. It was against the tragic backdrop of the devastation inflicted by Hurricanes Irma and Maria on several Caribbean islands that successive Caribbean leaders made their addresses during the UNGA general debate, highlighting the urgency of the need to address climate change in a meaningful way.

There were many moving addresses, but the most impactful  was the address by Mr Skerrit, whose country was severely battered by the Category 5 power of Hurricane Maria just days before. Reiterating that he was “coming from the front line of the war on climate change”, Mr. Skerrit reminded participants of the horror which Tropical Storm Erika had inflicted on the island back in 2015 and the tragedy currently unfolding due to Hurricane Maria where the confirmed death toll is 27 and several other persons remain missing.

In the space of a couple of hours, Dominica’s iconic mountains, once resplendent in coats of green and through which flowed clear rivers, had turned brown with mud and rubble. Some 95% of homes have reportedly lost their roofs in some places. Every one of the Nature Isle’s 70,000 inhabitants has been affected in some way.

Proclaiming that “Eden is broken”, he declared that Dominica was faced with “an international humanitarian emergency”. A fortnight before Maria hit Dominica, Barbuda, the smaller of the two main islands of the country of Antigua & Barbuda, was hit by Category 5 Hurricane Irma, leading to a complete evacuation of the entire island after the crisis. Hurricane Irma also did not spare Cuba or the island of St. Martin, split between the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Republic of France.

But besides the human and infrastructural losses, the economic toll will be equally enduring for those countries affected. A recent report estimates that Hurricane Irma caused $45 billion in damage in the Caribbean, with at least $30 billion in Puerto Rico.   With Maria, this toll will be expected to rise. A rapid damage and assessment had found that Tropical Storm Erika in 2015 had inflicted loss and damage on Dominica of US$483 million, equivalent to 90% of the island’s GDP. Hurricane Maria was much worse.

While climate change is not the cause of hurricanes, warmer waters in the Atlantic is believed by scientists to be the cause of stronger, more powerful hurricanes during this hurricane season. Hurricane Irma and Maria both rapidly developed into Category 5 hurricanes and the back to back pummeling of several Caribbean islands by two Category 5 hurricanes in such a short space of time is certainly not an everyday occurence, but one which may become a more frequent reality as global temperatures increase.

It is these realities which led Caribbean countries and other Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to be at the forefront of climate change negotiations which eventually led to the historic Paris Agreement being signed in December, 2015. It is why the decision by US President Donald Trump to declare that the US, the world’s largest polluter, would be pulling out of the Paris Agreement was extremely unfortunate.

As Hurricane Harvey and Irma potently showed in the US states of Texas and Florida, wealthy nations like the US are not immune to the more deadly effects of climate change. However, Caribbean countries, like all SIDS, are poorly equipped, both geographically and economically, to confront these disasters. Their fragile economies are dependent on industries which are among the first economic victims of storm devastation, tourism being the clearest example.

Moreover, their generally high  GDP per capita and “middle income” designation makes most concessionary loans and certain types of development aid beyond their reach due to outdated notions that GDP per capita is a good measure of wealth for countries. This point was raised in the address by Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Barbados, Senator the Honourable Maxine McClean. Barbados was spared the devastation of both Hurricanes Irma and Maria and has been among the forefront of relief efforts in Dominica.

As was eloquently put in a recent World Bank blog, hurricanes can seriously turn back the developmental clock. This is certainly the case with Dominica which was still in many ways recovering from Tropical Storm Erika and will face a much longer recovery following Hurricane Maria. It is also the case with the US territories of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands which are also facing tremendous human suffering after being pounded by both Irma and Maria. Puerto Rico’s economy was already fragile due to the huge debt crisis being faced and is now faced with many places without drinking water or electricity.

Platitudes and best endeavour promises do little to allay the reality that there is little time left to reverse the damage which has been done and reverse course towards more severe temperature increases. The Paris Agreement was an important step but there needs to be stronger commitment, ambition and meaningful action by all nations, especially those which are the most responsible for atmospheric pollution, to take steps to meet and go beyond the greenhouse gas emission reduction targets they set for themselves.

There also needs to be greater support for SIDS which bear a disproportionate brunt of the consequences. The issue of climate finance was raised by Prime Minister Gaston Browne of Antigua & Barbuda, who mentioned debt swaps as a possible option, and the need for greater finance for building resilience, as well as reminded participants of the economic vulnerability of countries which were faced with high debt, large trade deficits and small, undeveloped financial markets.

As Prime Minister of Dominica, Mr. Skerrit rightly stated, “we need action and we need it now”.

Mr. Skerrit’s full speech may be viewed here.

The CTLD Blog extends our heartfelt sympathy to all our Caribbean brothers and sisters affected by the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma and Maria.

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.

 

« Older Entries