Monthly Archives: February 2018

CARICOM Heads to meet this week for 29th Intersessional HoG Meeting

Alicia Nicholls

Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) will meet this week, February 26 & 27, 2018, in Port au Prince, Haiti for their 29th Intersessional Meeting. The meeting will be chaired by current chairman of the Conference of the Heads of Government, Haitian President, His Excellency Jovenel Moise.

Chairmanship of the Conference of Heads of Government rotates every six months. Haiti, which became a full member of CARICOM in 2002, will hold chairmanship from January 1st to June 30th. Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness will assume chairmanship on July 1st.

Major agenda items for the intersessional meeting include building climate resilience, crime and violence, the impact on CARICOM Member States of blacklisting actions and de-risking actions by global banks.

Additionally, according to the official press release, the meeting “will seek to advance plans to further strengthen key elements of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME)  including those related to travel and trade”.

CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque; the immediate-past CARICOM Chairman, Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell of Grenada and current Chairman, President Moise of Haiti, will make remarks at the Opening Ceremony carded for February 26 and which will be live streamed on CARICOM’s website.

In anticipation of the meeting, Haiti’s Ministry of Trade held a Public Forum last Friday to discuss “Integration of Haiti in CARICOM: Challenges and Opportunities”.

Alicia Nicholls, B.Sc., M.Sc., LL.B., is an international 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.

 

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Caribbean Trade & Development Digest – February 18-24, 2018

Welcome to the Caribbean Trade and Development Digest for the week of February 18-24, 2018! 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

Building a climate-resilient Community among matters for CARICOM 29th Inter-Sessional Meeting

CARICOM: The Caribbean Community’s push to build a more climate-resilient Community following the devastating 2017 hurricane season is among matters for deliberation by CARICOM Heads of Government at their Twenty-ninth Inter-Sessional Meeting in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, 26 – 27 February 2018. Read more 

Ralph Gonsalves: Golding Report ‘Unworkable’

Jamaica Gleaner: This is an edited address delivered on February 22 at St Vincent and the Grenadines’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs building in Kingstown. Read more 

Growing trade deficits in the Caribbean Netherlands

Netherlands Central Statistics Bureau: In 2017, the trade deficits of Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba were higher than in the previous year. In relative terms, St Eustatius saw the sharpest increase in annual deficit. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this on the basis of new figures. Read more 

World Trade Center Arkansas to Lead Trade Mission to Caribbean

Arkansas Matters: The World Trade Center Arkansas is leading a trade mission for Arkansas companies interested in exporting to Caribbean countries. The mission will go to the Trade Americas – Business Opportunities in the Caribbean Region Conference in Miami, Florida, from May 6-7. Read more 

INTERNATIONAL 

South Korea launches WTO trade challenge against U.S. duties

Reuters: South Korea has launched a wide-ranging complaint at the World Trade Organization to challenge the U.S. use of anti-subsidy and anti-dumping duties, citing their use on steel and transformers, a WTO filing showed on Tuesday. Read more 

India, 37 others seek WTO dispute body’s aid to fill up Appellate Body vacancies

Business Line: A formal submission has been made by 38 World Trade Organisation members including India, the EU, China, Russia, Brazil, Russia, Turkey and Vietnam to the Dispute Settlement Body seeking a decision on launching of a selection process to fill the three vacancies in the seven-member Appellate Body pending for long. Read more 

United States tells WTO of concerns over China’s new web access rules

Reuters: The United States told the World Trade Organization on Friday that Chinese internet access rules coming into force next month appeared to create significant new restrictions for cross-border service suppliers and should be discussed at the WTO. Read more 

Canada To Open Free Trade Talks With Mercosur Group Of South American Countries

Huffpost Canada: The Canadian government plans to open free trade talks with the four-nation Mercosur trading bloc in South America, an official said on Friday, at a time when the future of NAFTA is facing increasing uncertainty. Read more 

India Calls for Changes in WTO to Transform World Economy

News18: India on Sunday called for bringing changes in Geneva-based World Trade Organisation (WTO) to transform the global economy. Read more 

Egypt passes 4th WTO Trade Policy Review

AllAfrica: Egypt managed to pass the World Trade Organization (WTO)’s fourth review of the trade policies and practices of Egypt that took place on February 20-22. Read more

Full text of CPTPP released

Newsroom New Zealand: The Government has released the full text of the controversial CPTPP trade deal, along with a national interest analysis touting its importance in fighting growing protectionism around the world. Read more

French farmers hold tractor protests in Mercosur warning to Macron

Independent (Ireland): French farmers drove tractors through town centres and blocked highways on Wednesday to oppose extra agricultural imports from South America, raising pressure on President Emmanuel Macron in the run-up to a politically sensitive Paris farm show. Read more 

New NAFTA talks aim to clear pathway to toughest issues

Reuters: Mexico and Canada aim to finish reworking less contentious chapters of the NAFTA trade deal with the United States in new talks beginning on Sunday, hoping to clear the path for a breakthrough on the toughest issues before upcoming elections. Read more 

NAFTA talks go into their seventh round. Canada isn’t optimistic

Washington Post: When Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited the United States this month, he didn’t go to the White House. Instead, he visited the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, where he was presented with pages of the original U.S.-Canada Free Trade Agreement, signed by President Ronald Reagan 30 years ago. Read more

KPMG executive says businesses not using free-trade benefits

The Australian: Australian businesses are not substantially increasing their use of the Asian free-trade agreements each year and the Coalition needs to overhaul its trade policies, a KPMG executive says. Read more 

Press release: CEPA EU – Indonesia trade agreement round

TNI: Today, over 20 representatives from civil society organisations from the Indonesia and the European union, had a long meeting with negotiators of the new trade agreement between the EU and Indonesia (CEPA – Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement).  Read more

Korea initiates WTO complaint against US anti-dumping, countervailing duties

WTO: Korea has requested WTO consultations with the United States concerning the use of “facts available” by US investigating authorities in anti-dumping and countervailing investigations. The request was circulated to WTO members on 20 February. Read more

WTO members agree on timetable to review use of Bali tariff quota mechanism

WTO: At a meeting of the Agriculture Committee on 20 February, WTO members agreed on a timeline to review the operation of the 2013 Bali Ministerial Decision on tariff rate quotas and discussed a review of the landmark Nairobi Decision to eliminate farm export subsidies. Norway, Israel and Canada reported they had submitted revised schedules, formalizing their promises to eliminate these subsidies. Read more

WTO issues panel report regarding Korean restrictions on Japanese food imports

WTO: On 22 February the WTO circulated the panel report in the case brought by Japan in “Korea — Import Bans, and Testing and Certification Requirements for Radionuclides” (DS495). Read more 

Trade Facilitation Agreement marks first anniversary since entry into force

WTO: The Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) marked its first anniversary since its entry into force on 22 February 2017 with WTO members making significant strides towards its implementation. WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo said members continue to work to fully implement the Agreement, which will benefit particularly developing and least developed countries. Read more

Move aside, NAFTA: New fear on the Canada-U.S. front involves steel tariffs

CTV News: A new concern about Canada’s relationship with the United States is emerging in the foreground, with threats of global steel and aluminum tariffs now competing with NAFTA uncertainty as a source of economic anxiety. Read more

Cabinet okays trade agreement with Canada

The Slovak Spectator: Slovakia’s government greenlighted the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) at its February 21 session. Read more 

NEW ON CTLD BLOG

US House of Representatives passes GSP Renewal Bill; on to Senate

Golding Commission concerned about Caribbean Citizenship by Investment Programmes

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 & Development Digest – February 11-18, 2018

Welcome to the Caribbean Trade and Development Digest for the week of February 11-18, 2018! 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

Lack of financial transparency at CARICOM Secretariat – Golding Report

Antigua Observer: The lack of transparency surrounding the finances of the CARICOM Secretariat has found its way into the “Golding Report,” which examines relations between Jamaica and CARICOM and CARIFORUM, with a call for the revamping of the institution’s accountability procedures. Read more

(Caribbean) Region hits 30 million visitor mark

CTO:  The catastrophic hurricanes that devastated some Caribbean destination last September slowed down tourism’s progress but did not stop it, according to figures released by the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), the authority on regional tourism statistics. Read more 

Gov’t explores new system to track and boost tourist spend

Barbados Today: Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy has disclosed that a new system was being developed to better capture and monitor tourist spend in Barbados as Government continued to seek ways to grow the sector. Read more

Government looks to boost CSME access for Jamaicans

JIS: The Government will be intensifying efforts for Jamaican skilled workers and businesses to have greater access to the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME). Read more 

Barbados trade mission to Guyana

CBC (Barbados): Barbados is hoping to increase its trade relations with Guyana as a 10-member trade mission opens a two-day visit here Monday. Read more 

Holness to assume chairmanship of CARICOM

Jamaica Observer: Prime Minister Andrew Holness is to assume the Chairmanship of CARICOM from 1st July to 31st December 2018. Read more 

‘Deathly afraid’ for local ownership under WTO

Tribune242: Arawak Homes’ chairman is “deathly afraid” that WTO membership will undermine Bahamian economic ownership because many locally-owned firms cannot compete internationally. Read more 

SLCSI introduces new executive board

St. Lucia News Online: The Saint Lucia Coalition of Service Industries (SLCSI) is one of the twelve national service coalitions within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Dominican Republic (CARIFORUM collectively) and also the Caribbean Network of Service Coalitions (CNSC). Read more 

INTERNATIONAL

Azevêdo joins ACP brainstorming session: ‘we need to explore innovative ways forward’

WTO: Speaking at a meeting of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) at the WTO’s headquarters on 15 February, Director-General Roberto Azevêdo urged members to be ready to explore fresh perspectives and new pathways which may help move negotiations forward at the WTO. Read more 

Commentary: Temper expectations about RCEP free trade agreement

Channel Newsasia: It looks like India may be dragging its feet on some key issues within the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership but there’s good reason for all parties to manage their expectations, says one observer from the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute. Read more 

After the WTO’s Ministerial Conference, Where Next for Africa?

ICTSD Bridges: In the aftermath of the December WTO Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires, pessimism about the future of the institution has been reaching record levels and no clear plan has emerged yet on where to take the WTO next. In this rather bleak environment, what are the possible options for African countries to advance their trade and development priorities? Read more 

Mnuchin says Washington studying possible return to TPP through renegotiation

The Japan Times: President Donald Trump’s administration is actively discussing the possibility of rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal on condition that the United States renegotiate it to secure better terms, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday. Read more 

(US) House passes GSP renewal legislation

American Shipper: The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 4979 Tuesday under an expedited floor procedure, which would renew the Generalized System of Preferences program through 2020. Read more 

‘Big boys’ causing delays in conclusion of RCEP

Business Mirror: The Philippines is demanding its fellow negotiating-countries in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) to seriously commit to a speedy conclusion of their trade deal, as the latest round of talks still failed to progress beyond trade in goods modalities. Read more 

Next Nafta Talks Scheduled to Start With Auto Content Rules

Bloomberg: Rules for automotive content, one of the most contentious issues in Nafta, will be among the first tackled at the upcoming seventh round of talks in Mexico City. Read more

Australia says yes to post-Brexit free trade agreement with the UK

BBC: Australia say they would like to be able to negotiate a free trade agreement with the UK after Brexit. Read more 

Trade growth to sustain momentum in first quarter of 2018, latest trade indicator suggests

WTO: The WTO’s latest World Trade Outlook Indicator (WTOI), released on 12 February, suggests that the trade recovery of 2017 should continue, with solid trade volume growth in the first quarter of 2018. Read more

BONUS

CTO State of the Industry Outlook

The Caribbean Tourism Organisation(CTO) held its State of the Industry 2017 and Outlook for 2018 last week. Please feel free to check out the report and other content here.

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.

US House of Representatives passes GSP Renewal Bill; on to Senate

Alicia Nicholls

The first hurdle in the renewal of the United States’ Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) was overcome last week Tuesday when the US House of Representatives passed  H.R.4979 – To extend the Generalized System of Preferences and to make technical changes to the competitive need limitations provision of the program. This is welcomed news for the 120 countries and territories which benefit under the GSP, but just the first step towards the programme’s renewal.

The US GSP lapsed on December 31, 2017. This Bill provides a three year extension through to December 31, 2020. H.R. 4979 requires there be an annual report on the enforcement of eligibility criteria to ensure that countries designated as beneficiary developing countries are meeting the eligibility criteria.

Exporters would also be refunded for the duties collected during the lapse period. This is not the first time the GSP has expired, a fact which has created some uncertainty for exporters from GSP beneficiary countries seeking to make use of the programme. Other sources of uncertainty are that the President may graduate any country, remove products from GSP eligibility and remove products for an individual country which has exceeded competitive need limitations (CNLs). There are also a number of criteria for GSP eligibility which reflect the geopolitical  and other objectives underpinning the programme, for example, the ineligibility of communist countries.

The US GSP was instituted by the Trade Act of 1974 and it is one of several US government trade preference programmes which allow designated goods from certain disadvantaged countries to enter the US market at preferential rates of duty. According to the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) fact sheet on the GSP, some 5,057 8‐digit U.S. tariff lines are eligible for duty‐free entry under the GSP, of which 1,519 are eligible for Least Developed Countries (LDCs) only.

The fact sheet further notes that in 2016, total US imports under the GSP was $18.7 billion, with the top five GSP beneficiary countries being 1. India ($4.7 billion), 2. Thailand ($3.9 billion), 3. Brazil ($2.2 billion), 4. Indonesia ($1.8 billion) and 5. Philippines ($1.5 billion).

As of March 2017, the GSP-eligible countries in the Caribbean include: Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, while the following non-independent Caribbean territories are eligible: Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and Montserrat.

Caribbean countries do not feature among top US GSP countries and there is a good reason for this. Most Caribbean countries are beneficiaries of the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI), while Haiti is a beneficiary of the HOPE Acts. As such, according to the 2015 Report on the Operation of the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act (CBERA), in 2014, US imports under the GSP from CBI beneficiaries were just 0.02% of the total imports from those countries. As such, CBI countries’ exports under the GSP are quite small, though some countries like Belize, Jamaica and Dominica make more use of the GSP than others.

The GSP renewal Bill received bipartisan support in the House and is now before the Senate. For HR 4979 to become law, the identical bill would have to be passed in the US Senate. Failing this, there must be reconciliation of the bills passed in both houses before being signed into law by President Trump.

The text of the House Bill may be viewed here.

Alicia Nicholls, B.Sc., M.Sc., LL.B., is an international 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.

 

 

Golding Commission concerned about Caribbean Citizenship by Investment Programmes

Alicia Nicholls

The CARICOM Review Commission, whose report was tabled in the Jamaica Parliament last week, has expressed concern about the administration of Citizenship by Investment programmes (CIPs) currently operated by five CARICOM Member States, and has called for the establishment of a CARICOM framework agreement on their operation.

CIPs were among the many diverse issues examined by the Commission whose mandate was to review Jamaica’s relations within CARICOM and CARIFORUM. CIPs are currently operated by five CARICOM Member States: namely, Antigua & Barbuda,  Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts & Nevis and St. Lucia, and have been the subject of much scrutiny regionally and internationally.

Though recognising the economic importance of CIPs to these countries, the Commission, chaired by former Jamaica Prime Minister Bruce Golding, raised several issues with their current administration:

  • The programmes are driven more by short-term revenue benefits than long term investment gains
  • The lack of a minimum period of residency
  • The lack of a regional agreement on the operation of such programmes, especially given the national security and other implications for non-CIP operating CARICOM territories
  • While referrals to the CARICOM Implementing Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS) are made, the State is not obligated to accept the advice of IMPACS
  • Concerns raised by third States (namely the US and Canada) about Caribbean CIPs and the fact that two CIP-operating Member States (St. Kitts & Nevis and Antigua & Barbuda) have already lost visa-free access to Canada due to these concerns
  • Cases of persons granted citizenship under these programmes who were later found to be less than savoury characters
  • The risks to the Community in light of ever more sophisticated trans-national crime
  • The alleged issuance of diplomatic passports to some new citizens
  • Varying due diligence procedures used by CIP-operating Member States

As such, one of the thirty-three recommendations made by the Commission in its Report is for the establishment of “an agreed framework with appropriate protocols and safeguards regarding the terms, conditions, qualifications and restrictions in relation to the operation of Citizenship by Investment programmes including prior consultations or sharing of information with other Member States”.

The full report of the Golding Commission may be viewed here.

Alicia Nicholls, B.Sc., M.Sc., LL.B., is an international 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 – February 4-10, 2018

Welcome to the Caribbean Trade and Development Digest for the week of February 4-10, 2018! 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

CDB reports Regional development gains in 2017 despite catastrophic Atlantic Hurricane Season

CDB: Despite major setbacks caused by a destructive 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) is reporting a year of several developmental gains for the Region. Read more 

Positive economic growth expected for Caribbean Region in 2018, but resilience-building measures needed

CDB: The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) is projecting regional economic growth of 2% in 2018. This follows a return to positive figures last year, during which the Region experienced overall growth of 0.6%–despite the devastation caused by the Atlantic Hurricane Season. Read more 

Barbados ratifies Trade Facilitation Agreement

BGIS: Barbados has ratified the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) on Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA). Read more 

Jamaica Prime Minister Tables Report on CARICOM

JIS: Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, tabled a copy of the Report of the Commission to Review Jamaica’s Relations within the CARICOM and CARIFORUM Frameworks in the House of Representatives,  yesterday (February 6). Read more

CDB President announces up to US$800M for disaster recovery, amid strong Bank performance in 2017

CARICOM: President of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), Dr. Wm. Warren Smith, today announced that the institution is making USD700 to 800 million (mn) available to help Borrowing Member Countries (BMCs) recover from the impact of the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season. Read more 

INTERNATIONAL

Brazil Circulates Proposal for WTO Investment Facilitation Deal

ICTSD Bridges: Brazil submitted an extensive draft proposal for a potential agreement on investment facilitation to the WTO’s General Council last week, in a bid to jumpstart more “structured discussions” on the subject. Read more 

EU-Chile trade talks: Commission releases its proposals and reports about progress

EU: The Commission also published a report of the second round of talks that took place in Santiago (Chile) from 15 to 19 January 2018. These were the first substantive discussions on trade following the launch of talks in November last year. Read more 

Commission imposes definitive anti-dumping duties on Chinese corrosion resistant steel

EU: The investigation confirmed that Chinese producers were dumping the product on the EU market, a finding that already led to imposition of provisional duties in August 2017. The measures that will be in place for the next 5 years range from 17.2% to 27.9%. Read more 

African Leaders Prep for Summit on Continental Trade Deal

ICTSD Bridges: African national leaders concluded the 30th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union last week, with the summit adopting a series of decisions on issues related to continental economic integration – including on the next steps for the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA), as well as the free movement of people and air travel. Read more 

No blanket EU trade ban, says Mustapa

The Star: As Malaysia is an open economy, the government cannot impose a blanket ban on trade with the European Union (EU), but it can collaborate with government-linked companies to determine where to buy and sell goods amid the economic bloc’s threat to palm oil, said International Trade and Industry Minister, Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed.
Read more 

Mozambique joins the Economic Partnership Agreement between the EU and Southern African States

EU: Mozambique was the last piece of the SADC-EPA jigsaw to fall into place. The other five countries – Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South-Africa, and Swaziland – have been implementing the agreement since October 2016.  Read more

Ministers admit almost 65 existing trade deals with non-EU countries are ‘at risk because of Brexit

The Independent: Ministers have admitted for the first time that about 65 existing trade deals with non-EU countries are at risk because of Brexit, it has been claimed. Read more 

This doesn’t help the little guy! Trader reveals why Germans are furious at EU trade deal

The Express: The European Union has not learned lessons from its trade deal with Canada and the public will slowly start to resent Brussels bureaucrats and turn against the bloc, an expert has warned. Read more 

How can East Asia defend the WTO?

East Asia Forum: A confident, rules-based environment for international trade has made possible the remarkable improvements in East Asian living standards over the past 50 years. This environment — created by the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and its successor in the World Trade Organization (WTO) — remains essential for the future. But its survival cannot be taken for granted. Read more 

BiH near membership in the WTO

IBNA: Bosnia and Herzegovina can reach full membership in the World Trade Organisation till summer this year, and is on the right path to finish negotiations. Read more 

Bosnia and Herzegovina’s WTO accession negotiations advance towards conclusion

WTO: At the 13th meeting of the Working Party on the Accession of Bosnia and Herzegovina held on 7 February, WTO members supported the swift conclusion of the negotiations and welcomed the strong commitment and desire by Sarajevo to finalize this process in the coming months. Read more 

US blocks India’s request for WTO compliance panel on solar dispute

Hindu Business Line: Moving on expected lines, the US, on Friday, blocked India’s first-time request for the establishment of a panel to settle a dispute on whether the country complied with a World Trade Organisation (WTO) ruling against domestic sourcing of solar cells and modules mandated in its national solar power generation programme. Read more 

FM: Belarus has no plans to slow down WTO accession talks

BELTA: In 2017 Belarus considerably intensified the talks on joining the World Trade Organization (WTO) and is intended to keep the pace, Belarus’ Minister of Foreign Affairs Vladimir Makei said in an interview to the Russian newspaper Izvestia, BelTA has learned. Read more 

Italy eyes stronger ties with ASEAN countries

Indian Express: “Italy wants to strengthen relations with ASEAN and will organise the 2nd High Level Dialogue ASEAN-Italy Economic Relations in Singapore in April,” said Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano. 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.

Barbados ratifies WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement

Alicia Nicholls

On January 31, 2018, Barbados became the 130th World Trade Organisation (WTO) member to ratify the WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement.

According to the press release from the Barbados Government Information Service (GIS), “the instrument of ratification was formally handed over by Ambassador to the United Nations and Other International Organisations, Bentley Gibbs, to Secretary General of  the WTO, Robert Azevedo, in Geneva, Switzerland”.

The Trade Facilitation Agreement came out of the WTO’s Bali Ministerial in 2013 and entered into force in February 22, 2017 after two-thirds of the WTO’s membership ratified the Agreement. It aims to expedite the movement, release and clearance of goods across borders by reducing red tape, improving transparency and facilitating cooperation among customs authorities.

The benefits of these provisions, once implemented, include reducing trade costs for businesses, increasing participation in global value chains and improving trade flows. Ratification of the Agreement is, therefore, an important signal to investors of a country’s commitment to improving its business environment for trade.

In keeping with the principle of Special and Differential Treatment, there are implementation flexibilities in Section II for developing and least developed countries, recognising they may need more time to implement the provisions of the Agreement. Like other developing and least developed countries, Barbados has access to the Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility which provides assistance for notification, capacity-building support and grants.

The following other Member States of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) have already ratified the Trade Facilitation Agreement: Trinidad & Tobago, Belize, Guyana, Grenada  and St. Lucia (2015), Jamaica and St. Kitts & Nevis  (2016), St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the Dominican Republic and Antigua & Barbuda (2017).

Alicia Nicholls, B.Sc., M.Sc., LL.B., is an international 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.

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