Monthly Archives: September 2018

The Sino-American Challenge to Multilateralism

Rasheed J. Griffith, Guest Contributor

Nations don’t trade. Metaphors can both clarify and deceive. Trade is no exception. The current commentary on trade relationships between nations has elevated the commercial profit-loss mechanisms of international trade to an abstract state level apparatus. When we say states trade what we really mean is the firms in different states have commercial relationships. Firms have a singular motive: to make profit. Similarly to making the individual-firm distinction, we must always remember to make the state-firm distinction. This distinction is further amplified when we are discussing large economy states. They too have a singular motive: geopolitical dominance.

The persistent US trade deficit with China implies that US consumers are able to buy cheaper goods from China. But it is also a signal of the erosion of the US global geopolitical dominance caused by economic decline. In the US economy financial goods are replacing physical goods. The chart below shows the increase in the financial component of US GDP relative to manufacturing.

Americasfireeconomy

Stock market capitalization of the US relative to GDP is 153%. For China it is 65% and Germany 54%. I am familiar with arguments that claim this is not problematic because countries trust the US markets most.

The 2008 financial crisis gave a glimpse of what could happen to the US economy if the financial sector collapsed.

The US government was barely able to patch up the financial markets by using excessive money creation and debt redistribution (i.e quantitative easing) in 2008. This was a necessary move but it means the Federal Reserve System balance sheet is now bloated. In another crisis, quantitative easing will likely not be effective. At that point, the money and capital markets of the US will no longer be as attractive in the long term, resulting in the dollar losing its global reserve currency status. At this point, the geopolitical dominance of US will weaken. And the main adversary (which is now China) will strive to make sure the US remains in a weakened position.

Very few people seem to understand this. But the Communist Party of China (CCP) understands. In 1999, two colonels of the People’s Liberation Army published Unrestricted Warfare[1]. The book gave strategies for defeating the USA without direct conventional military engagement. One of the core strategies was the use economic policies to eat away at the US economy. Having China being the core manufacturing hub of the world was one such strategy. This was made explicit with the ‘Made in China 2025’ policy recently launched by the CCP[2].

China did not achieve its spectacular growth through free trade. All of China’s trade is managed by the CCP. When discussing the USA-China trade relationship we must always acknowledge that China has an authoritarian government that will create and implement policies that they believe will benefit China irrespective of what the Chinese citizens think or what multilateral organizations demand. When China ascended to the WTO in 2001 it was naively expected that China would conform to the rules of that organization. Authoritarian governments, however, do not follow neoliberal rules.

Starting around 1978 under Deng Xiaoping, the CCP began their reforms from Soviet style system wide planning to state capitalism directed by large and powerful state owned enterprises (SOEs)[3]. Although China ascended to the WTO in 2001, this model never changed. On the Fortune 500 list of largest global companies, China comes in a close second (120) behind the US (126). Japan (52) is quite far behind. But what is shocking is that 93% of the Chinese firms on the list are SOEs. The CCP heavily subsidies their SOEs, and creates rules specifically favorable to them; to the detriment of foreign entities.

The USTR Section 301 report identified several instances where China has violated the WTO rules to which it signed in 2001. These concern trading rights, import regulations, export regulations, intellectual property rights, technology transfer, foreign investment, and so on[4]. The US has complained to the WTO about China on 22 occasions and China has still persisted in violating the rules. The White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing report goes on the dissect the persistent economic aggressions of China[5].

What choice does the US have if it is not able to deal with China through WTO processes? Multilateral processes only work if everyone agrees to adhere to the same rules. Of course , though, these rules were largely set by the US. In dealing with China, the WTO is absolutely ineffective. There is no democratic fallout if China refuses to acknowledge multilateral rules (as seen explicitly in China’s absolute refusal to acknowledge the Philippine’s win in the Hague in matter of the West Philippines Sea/South China Sea). It is likely that any strong ruling in the WTO against China will similarly fall on deaf ears. (Similarly the US has substantially disregarded a WTO ruling after losing a case to Antigua).

In any case, it has gotten to a point where countries cannot simply halt or significantly decrease trade with China in the form of sanctions. The US, then, is forced to use geoeconomics – the use of economic instruments to further geopolitical goals.

As the President of the United States, Trump is right to engage China directly. His strategy is clever: robe a geostrategic containment engagement in bland terms of trade rhetoric. And this is by no means outside the modus operandi of the US. During the Cold War period the US actively practised a strategy of containment against the Soviet Union. In fact, China has accused the US of trying to economically contain China[6]. But of course, China has been engaging in geoeconomics as well recently.

For example, in 2012 China allowed farmers from the Phillipines to export their bananas to China but when the bananas arrived they were left to rot on the dock. This left the Philippines banana planters with neither stock nor payment (30% of Philippines banana exports go to China). This was used as a tactic to weaken the Philippines position when the tensions over the South China Sea were rising[7]. Another example is when China blocked rare earth metals to Japan almost crippling Japanese tech manufacturing, until Japan finally conceded, over another maritime dispute[8]. In both cases, the WTO was impotent.

What Trump gets wrong is that tariffs are not sufficient. And he failed to properly define a long term strategy to deal with China. Without such a strategy the US will continue ad hoc aggressions.

China has been shown to disregard all multilateral rules if it wants to. But even so, it is difficult being upset with China. China has succeeded in the most comprehensive and rapid poverty alleviation program in all of human history. China was able to lift over 600 million people out of poverty in less than 30 years[9]. Following along this path, it should be expected that the CCP is mounting a restoration of China to compensate for its decline after the late 1850s: the “century of humiliation[10]”. Few commentators remember that for 18 of the last 20 centuries China commanded a greater share of world GDP that any other country. Henry Kissinger reminds us that as recent as 1820 China “produced over 30% of world GDP – an amount exceeding the GDP of Western Europe, Eastern Europe, and the United States combines.”[11]

Wang Yi, however, recently attempted to assure the UN that China has no ambition of hegemonic dominance[12]. I believe that is an empty statement given Xi Jinping’s expansive Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) which has been added to the Party constitution of the CCP[13]. From the perspective of CCP, as Lee Kuan Yew frames it, China is not looking to become dominant; rather, it is looking to restore dominance. It is a different geopolitical mindset.

This to me is the crux of the Sino-American challenge. The US is right that China is not properly following WTO rules because it has disregarded many of those rules to accelerate its economic growth. And it has been exceedingly effective. But if China were to conform to the WTO rules, it would not match the model that has been so successful.

Multilateral trade rules were not designed by China to fit China’s model (authoritarian government, state capitalism). They were primarily designed by liberal democracies – the US in particular. Both of these nations have fundamentally different economic models and justifiable geopolitical reasons for disregarding WTO rules to protect (or increase) their geopolitical dominance.

We are living in a time of multilateralism. But this time is anomalous. Dani Rodrik has explained in detail why “free trade agreements” have little to do with free trade[14]. Those agreements are primarily political documents. In fact, “76 percent of existing preferential trade agreements covered at least some aspect of investment (such as free capital mobility) by 2011; 61 percent covered intellectual property rights protection; and 46 percent covered environmental regulations”[15]. These are political documents that attempt to alter a nation’s domestic policies with the preferences of international actors.

This is not possible with a powerful authoritarian government. It is a grave error to treat China as just another Western country; like how you would treat Japan. China is an ideological adversary to the US that has now become an economic adversary. When at odds with geopolitical motives multilateralism always fails. Geoeconomic escalation is not only justified but it is inevitable.

Rasheed Griffith’s professional interests include Southeast Asian Monetary Policy and AML Compliance. He may be contacted at rasheed.j.griffith AT gmail.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at @RasheedGriffith

[1] http://www.c4i.org/unrestricted.pdf

[2] https://supchina.com/2018/06/28/made-in-china-2025/

[3] https://orca.cf.ac.uk/99467/1/Publication_2016_IJEMSc.pdf

[4] https://ustr.gov/sites/default/files/Section%20301%20FINAL.PDF

[5] https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/FINAL-China-Technology-Report-6.18.18-PDF.pdf

[6] http://www.atimes.com/article/us-tariffs-are-containment-beijings-message-fed-by-the-white-house/

[7] https://www.asiasentinel.com/society/the-china-philippine-banana-war/

[8] https://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/23/business/global/23rare.html

[9] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poverty_in_China#Poverty_reduction

[10] https://www.theatlantic.com/china/archive/2013/10/how-humiliation-drove-modern-chinese-history/280878/

[11] https://www.amazon.com/China-Henry-Kissinger/dp/0143121316

[12] http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/a/201809/30/WS5bafb647a310eff303280520.html

[13] https://idsa.in/idsacomments/what-the-inclusion-of-bri-in-the-chinese-constitution-implies_jpanda_071117

[14]https://drodrik.scholar.harvard.edu/files/dani-rodrik/files/what_do_trade_agreements_really_do.pdf

[15] Limão, Nuno. 2016. “Preferential Trade Agreements.” NBER Working Paper 22138, March

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Caribbean Trade & Development Digest – September 23-29, 2018

Welcome to the Caribbean Trade & Development Digest for the week of September 22-29, 2018! We are happy to bring you the trade and development headlines and analysis from across the Caribbean Region and the world from the past week.

THIS WEEK’S HIGHLIGHTS

World leaders gathered for the 73rd Session of the United Nations’ General Assembly this week where issues of trade and wider multilateralism featured prominently. Economic releases by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and World Trade Organisation (WTO), respectively, have warned of the risks posed by escalating trade tensions to global economic and trade growth. In its flagship Trade and Development Report 2018 released this week, UNCTAD highlighted that the current trade tensions were a symptom of excessive financialisation and imbalances in trade and economic power. This week, the US also blocked the reappointment of a fourth WTO Appellate Body judge, which will reduce that body’s roster of judges to three, the bare minimum needed to hear a dispute.

On the NAFTA front, the promised release of the renewal text agreed to by the US and Mexico has been delayed with hopes that the impasse between the US and Canada will be surmounted as the Sunday (today) deadline for agreement on the updated NAFTA looms.

REGIONAL

Tourism investments under the microscope

The Gleaner: Jamaica Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett has put a cork on new approvals of tour businesses, while his Tourism Working Group (TWG) examines the degree to which large hotel groups may be crowding out local destination management companies and tour operators from the market. Read more 

No significant return (on Carnival), says (Trinidad tourism minister)

Trinidad Express: More than $500 million was spent on promoting Carnival over the last ten years and Trinidad and Tobago failed to get a significant return in terms of its investment, says Tourism Minister Randall Mitchell. Read more 

Guyana to sign economic cooperation agreement with Barbados

Caribbean360:  President David Granger has announced that Guyana will soon sign a framework agreement for economic cooperation with Barbados. The announcement came 24 hours after a memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed between Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago for energy cooperation. Read more 

Producers Seek CET Protection To Launch White Sugar Market

The Gleaner: The sugar sector in the Caribbean is protected from outside competition by a 40 per cent tariff on brown sugar imports, and producers want that protection extended to refined sugar as a predicate to developing a market internally. Read more 

Guyana should be pressing Trinidad & Tobago over artificial trade barriers -Ramkarran

Stabroek: With opportunities now opening up due to Guyana’s advantageous position in the emerging oil and gas sector, it should begin pressing Trinidad and Tobago to remove its artificial barriers to trade, says commentator Ralph Ramkarran. Read more 

T&T to continue restricting trade in honey produced in other CARICOM countries

CNC3: The Government of Trinidad and Tobago has vowed to continue restricting the trade in honey being produced by CARICOM countries to prevent the spread of diseases. Read more 

Caribbean region is the top destination for investors looking for second citizenship

Global Trade Magazine: The 2018 CBI Index—a special report published by the Financial Times’ Professional Wealth Management magazine—has revealed that Caribbean nations remain the top destinations in the world to apply for second citizenship. Read more 

Study: Post-Maria Contracts Go To Mainland, Not Puerto Rico

The Gleaner: A study published last Wednesday found that the bulk of federal funds slated for post-hurricane reconstruction efforts in Puerto Rico are going to mainland companies despite a federal provision that states that local companies should receive priority. Read more 

INTERNATIONAL

World trade’s top court close to breakdown as U.S. blocks another judge

Reuters: The supreme court of world trade is close to breakdown after the United States turned down a last-ditch petition to reappoint one of the four remaining judges at the World Trade Organization. Read more

WTO downgrades outlook for global trade as risks accumulate

WTO: Escalating trade tensions and tighter credit market conditions in important markets will slow trade growth for the rest of this year and in 2019, WTO economists expect. Read more

Trade Deals, Multilateralism in the Spotlight as UN General Assembly Gets Underway

ICTSD: Trade has been a high-profile topic both at this week’s UN General Assembly (UNGA), featuring during leaders’ speeches and at meetings in the margins, as officials lay out their visions on trade and multilateralism while also working to advance different negotiating processes at the political level.  Read more

Sustainable Financing, Climate Action Take Centre Stage During New York, Halifax Meetings

ICTSD: Boosting the political momentum for climate action has taken centre stage in multiple high-level meetings across North America this month, including at this week’s UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York. Read more 

Members conclude first review of Nairobi Decision on export competition, seek details on US farm aid package

WTO: WTO Members approved by consensus the first triennial review of the 2015 Nairobi Decision on export competition during a meeting of the WTO’s agriculture committee on 25-26 September. Read more 

Panels established to rule on US safeguards, Canadian wine measures

WTO: At a meeting of the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) on 26 September, WTO members agreed to requests from Korea for the establishment of two panels to determine whether safeguards imposed by the United States on imports of solar cells and washers are compatible with WTO rules. Read more 

Canada unveils plan to strengthen WTO in face of U.S. protectionism

Bloomberg: The proposal, called “Strengthening and Modernizing the WTO,” seeks to forge an alliance of like-minded countries to “restore confidence in the multilateral trading system and discourage protectionist measures and countermeasures,” according to a copy of the eight-page document obtained by Bloomberg. Read more 

Commissioner Malmström visits Canada to take stock of progress with EU-Canada trade agreement

EU: On Wednesday 26 September, the Commissioner met with the Canadian Minister of International Trade Diversification, James Gordon Carr. Together, they attended the first EU-Canada Joint Committee, which is the highest body for the two partners to discuss issues of interest related to the agreement. Read more

Trade conflicts to dampen growth in Asia

Deutsche Welle: Rising debt, US interest rate hikes, but above all simmering trade conflicts will take their toll on Asia’s growth prospects next year, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has said in an update of its regional outlook. Read more 

NYTimes: President Trump signed a revised free trade agreement with South Korea on Monday in New York, cementing the first bilateral trade deal of his administration and suggesting the United States could soon win similar agreements with other trading partners. Read more 

EU, Japan and US met at Ministerial level

EU: The three met as a continuation of the trilateral talks launched last year, to address issues such as trade-distortive practices. Read more 

India-South Asia trade has potential to triple to $62 billion, says World Bank 

Economic Times: Deeper regional trade and connectivity has the potential to more than triple India’s trade with its South Asian neighbors, World Bank said in a report on Monday. Read more 

EU, China to meet on WTO reform in October

Reuters: European Union trade officials will travel to Beijing next month for talks with Chinese counterparts on ideas for reform of the World Trade Organization, EU ambassador to the WTO Marc Vanheukelen said on Wednesday. Read more

US, Japan agree to negotiate a free trade agreement

Washington Post: The United States and Japan announced Wednesday they will open negotiations on a bilateral trade agreement between the world’s first- and third-largest economies. Read more 

India sees opportunity in escalating US-China trade war

Livemint: India has spotted an opportunity to boost its exports with the second round of tariff hikes by the Donald Trump administration on $200 billion of Chinese imports putting the US at a disadvantage. Read more 

Courting Canada, U.S. and Mexico cancel plans to publish NAFTA texts: sources

Reuters: The United States and Mexico abruptly canceled plans to publish NAFTA texts on Friday, sources said, as signs of renewed efforts by Canada and Washington to settle differences raised hopes a breakthrough could be made to keep the deal trilateral. Read more 

Brexit costings 500M a week, study says

Politico: The British economy is 2.5 percent smaller today than if the U.K. had voted to remain in the European Union, according to the Center for European Reform, a think tank. Read more 

The closer we get to Brexit, the more polls show Britain wants to remain in Europe

Business Insider: The closer we get to the Brexit deadline in March 2019, the more British people tell pollsters they think their decision to leave the European Union was wrong. Read more 

Economists are severely underestimating the amount of trade between African countries

Quartz Africa: The share of internal trade in Africa remains low, as reflected by official statistics. This is despite numerous regional trade agreements that have led to tariffs removal within the trading blocs. At least in principle. Read more 

UNCTAD releases Trade and Development Report 2018

UNCTAD: The world economy is again under stress. The immediate pressures are building around escalating tariffs and volatile financial flows but behind these threats to global stability is a wider failure, since 2008, to address the inequities and imbalances of our hyperglobalized world. Read more 

African Development Bank Launches first Africa-to-Africa (A2A) Investment Report

AfDB: The report unearths the realities African companies face when investing in the continent, the emerging trends in A2A investment and the steps African policymakers can take to accelerate intra-African investment. Read more 

Africa: Kagame – CFTA Will Help the World Better Relate to Africa

All Africa: The African Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) Agreement is a bold framework that stands to define the future of relations between the continent and the rest of the world, President Paul Kagame has said. Read more 

ECA emphasizes holistic approach to realize Africa’s ambitions in trade

Xinhua: The UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) on Wednesday called for greater all-rounded involvement in Africa’s trade policy processes, with due emphasis given to the success of Africa’s flagship trade agreements and policies. Read more 

Commonwealth countries back rules-based global trade

Commonwealth Secretariat: Commonwealth members in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) agreed that despite their rich diversity, including in levels of development, they are united in recognising the importance of the rules-based multilateral system as a common good. Read more

NEW ON CTLD BLOG

US-China Trade Tensions: What may these mean for the Caribbean?

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US-China Trade Tensions: What may these mean for the Caribbean?

Alicia Nicholls

On-going trade tensions between the United States of America (US) and China reached a new low point last week. Beijing cancelled upcoming trade talks with Washington in the wake of US President Donald Trump’s announcement of tariffs on a further $200 billion dollars’ worth of Chinese imports, starting September 24th. The Chinese government announced that it will retaliate with tariffs on a further US$60 billion dollars’ worth of US imports.

US-China relations have had turbulent periods throughout the years, but the Trump Presidency has taken a markedly more aggressive stance to Beijing’s purported unfair trade practices which the US President blames for China’s large merchandise trade surplus with the US, estimated to be US$375 billion in 2017.

With the US as the Caribbean region’s main trading partner and China, a growing economic presence in the region, will the Caribbean be caught in the middle of this spat between the world’s two largest economic superpowers? And is there anyway in which the region could possibly benefit?

China-Caribbean Relations

It must first be noted that Caribbean countries’ policy towards the recognition of either the People’s Republic of China (PRC) or the Republic of China (ROC – Taiwan) is fragmented. Five (Belize, Haiti, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Vincent & the Grenadines and St. Lucia) out of fifteen Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member States still recognise Taiwan as a sovereign State. Moreover, it was only this week that China opened an embassy in the Dominican Republic after that country severed ties with Taiwan earlier. As such, not all Caribbean countries have diplomatic or economic ties with the PRC, but the majority do.

In the midst of declining US presence in the Caribbean, Beijing has sought to fill the void through mainly bilateral engagement with individual Caribbean governments. China has become an increasingly important source of foreign direct investment, government loans, and development aid and cooperation. A growing number of infrastructure projects throughout the region have been built with Chinese funding and labour. The Chinese Government has also long provided generous government scholarships to Caribbean nationals whose countries recognize the PRC.

China-Caribbean trade flows have increased and China has widened its trade surplus with the region. According to Ambassador Dr. Richard L. Bernal in his insightful book “Dragon in the Caribbean”, while Caribbean countries’ imports from China have grown “substantially and rapidly”, Caribbean exports to China have increased, but not nearly in as robust a manner. The Chinese Ambassador to Barbados has been reported as stating last week that in “the first six months of this year trade volume between Bridgetown and Beijing reached US$79.8 million”, a rapid increase.

US-Caribbean Relations

While China’s deepened economic engagement with the Caribbean is relatively recent, US-Caribbean relations with the region it considers its “backyard” or “third border” are longstanding, dating back to colonial times. The US is not just the region’s largest trading partner, but since the late 1980s many Caribbean countries have benefited from duty-free, quota-free access for most goods to the US market under the Caribbean Basin Initiative, a non-reciprocal goods-only preferences programme.

The US is the major source market for Caribbean tourist arrivals, with the Caribbean Tourism Organisation reporting an estimated 14.9 million US arrivals to the region in 2017. US-Caribbean ties also manifest through the relatively large Caribbean-American diaspora which numbers approximately four million. The US is also a major (though declining) provider of foreign assistance to the Caribbean, and the Trump Administration has sought to scale back its assistance even further.

However, the Caribbean region’s geopolitical significance to Washington has diminished since the end of the Cold War, and so has the level of development assistance in recent years. The US-Caribbean Strategic Engagement Act, which had bi-partisan congressional support, was passed in 2016 and signed into law under the then Obama administration as Washington’s attempt to re-engage with the Region. A multi-year Strategy, as required under the Act, was published in 2017.

So, what may US-China trade tensions mean for the Caribbean?

It is still too early to tell whether there will or has been any economic fall-out from the US-China tariff war so far on Caribbean economies. Most Caribbean countries are services-dependent making them generally more insulated from direct fall-out from the tariff hikes on global goods supply chains. Commodities-based economies, however, might suffer from softening commodities prices due to reduced Chinese demand.

President Trump’s calculation may be that a trade war would be more damaging to China’s economy than to the US since it exports more to the US than viceversa. This gives Beijing less American imports on which it could levy tariffs. An already slowing Chinese economy would be further weakened by reduced American demand for its products.

One possible negative consequence of any severe downturn in the Chinese economy may be a reduction in Beijing’s economic largesse in the region. But, the US economy may not be immune either. Though the US economy grew 4.2% in the last quarter and unemployment is low, these fortunes could be reversed due to Washington’s erratic trade policy and recent tax cuts. American farmers in key states are already warning about the possible impact of the tariff hikes. A downturn in the US economy could have a ripple effect on Caribbean economies, especially those dependent on US tourist arrivals. It is also worth pointing out that China is the US’ largest creditor, with a stockpile of over US$1 trillion worth of US Treasury securities. Beijing may see this as a source of leverage in this economic war, but a mass sell-off by China of its US debt could also backfire.

Another possible channel of impact for Caribbean countries could be in the financial markets. Spooked by these trade tensions, investors may revert to less risky investment options, which may make bonds issued by emerging economies, like those in the Caribbean, less attractive, and also affect currency markets. Additionally, any downturn in the global economy precipitated by softening global demand due to the rising trade tensions and reduced investor confidence could have a ripple effect on the small open economies of the Caribbean. In its recently released Interim Economic outlook, the OECD warned that new restrictive trade measures were already impacting global trade flows, resulting in a slowdown in global trade volume growth in the first half of 2018.

An upside to the US-China trade tensions, and this may already be playing out, is that Chinese exporters, faced with these high tariffs in the US market, will be looking at alternative markets for their goods. In light of Washington’s anti-China stance, Chinese firms may also seek out more investment-friendly climates in which to invest. In this case, the Caribbean also hypothetically stands to benefit.

It should be noted as well that China increasingly sees itself as having similar interests to the Caribbean, and also as an ally to the region in multilateral fora. This week the Chinese government noted that it plans to step up its multilateral cooperation with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), to help protect the integrity of multilateral institutions which have been increasingly under attack from the current unilateral stance taken by the Trump administration. WTO reform is one area in which China and the Caribbean could potentially collaborate, although China’s status as a developing country is one of the sore points for some WTO members, including the US.

There may also be greater opportunities for Caribbean countries to meaningfully increase exports to China. However, this is easier said than done. Caribbean firms looking to export to, or invest in China, will need to overcome barriers to market access and penetration, which are not just legal/regulatory in the form of non-tariff barriers, but also linguistic and cultural.

One way in which these barriers may be mitigated is by tapping into those persons who have knowledge of the Chinese market and culture. A growing number of Caribbean nationals have benefited from Chinese government scholarships. These persons not only speak the language, but know the culture and may have built up lasting contacts there. They could be employed as trade and investment liaisons in their countries’ diplomatic missions in China and their expertise used during trade shows to China. Local chambers of commerce, trade and investment promotion agencies, and individual firms looking to scope out the Chinese market, should also view these persons as useful sources of insights on the Chinese market and sources of contacts for exploring possible joint ventures and partnerships as market entry strategies.

Notwithstanding, it is still too early to state definitively what impact the current US-China trade tensions will have for the Caribbean region. As such, Caribbean leaders and the business community should continue to monitor the situation closely, looking for ways to mitigate any possible channels of impact, but also areas where opportunities may arise.

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 and Development Digest – September 16-22, 2018

Welcome to the Caribbean Trade & Development Digest for the week of September 16-22, 2018! We are happy to bring the trade and development headlines and analysis from across the Caribbean Region and the world from the past week.

It has been a busy week in trade news. The European Commission has published a concept paper outlining its initial proposals for WTO reform. On the Brexit front, EU leaders have rejected aspects of British Prime Minister Theresa May’s ‘Chequers Plan’ – post-Brexit economic proposals. China has cancelled upcoming trade talks with the US, as Washington readies to impose another $200 billion dollars worth of tariffs on Chinese imports. And those are just some of the highlights! Please see below for more headlines:

REGIONAL

St Maarten as CARICOM Associate Member “still under consideration”

The Daily Herald: It has been more than half a decade since St. Maarten as well as Curaçao and Aruba have been approved for associate membership to the English-speaking countries dominated Caribbean Community Caricom, and that pending application is “still under consideration.” Read more 

Jamaica gets green light to export mangoes to US

Jamaica Observer: Jamaica has been granted permission to export mangoes to the United States, Agriculture Minister Audley Shaw said here on Monday. Read more 

Interview: Dominican Republic-China ties open “world of opportunities,” says economy chief of Dominican Republic

Xinhua: The newly established diplomatic ties between China and the Dominican Republic have opened a panoply of trade and investment opportunities for the two countries, according to the Economy, Planning and Development Minister of Dominican Republic Isidoro Santana. Read more 

Puerto Rico businesses interested in Trinidad and Tobago

LoopT&T: “These trade missions provide Trinidad and Tobago with opportunities to deepen relations and increase business,” said Trade and Industry Minister, Senator the Honourable Paula Gopee-Scoon at the launch of Trade Mission from Puerto Rico hosted by the United States Embassy, Trinidad on Tuesday.  Read more 

Trinidad and Tobago to examine law prohibiting transshipment of honey from Guyana

Stabroek: Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) has made a commitment to examine the law prohibiting the transshipment of honey from Guyana into the twin-island republic, its Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharat says.

The Bahamas reactivates WTO accession process

WTO: WTO members praised The Bahamas’ commitment to reactivate and accelerate its WTO accession process after six years of impasse. Read more 

Guyana seeking to finalise economic cooperation pact with Barbados

Stabroek: Guyana is moving to finalise a framework agreement for economic cooperation with Barbados as part of government’s attempts to pursue economic cooperation in the region to nurture prosperity and global competitiveness, President David Granger said yesterday. Read more 

BVI premier to lead first trade mission to Africa

Caribbean News Now: British Virgin Islands premier and minister of finance, Dr Orlando Smith, will be leading a two-week trade mission to Africa in November. Read more

China opens embassy in the Dominican Republic

Golden Times: China’s national anthem was heard in the Dominican Republic on Friday, as China opened its embassy in the country’s capital Santo Domingo. Read more 

China ready to enhance multilateral cooperation with Caribbean Community: Wang Yi

Xinhua: China is ready to enhance cooperation with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in multilateral areas in order to better safeguard the rights and interests of developing countries, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said here Saturday. Read more

Barbados to host one-day CSME Meeting

Barbados Today: Guyana-based Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat says it is reviewing the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) administrative procedures to recommend ways of making them more simple and harmonised where possible. Read more

Suriname-Indonesia joint commission promotes agriculture, trade and capacity building

Caribbean News Now: The fifth Joint Council Commission between Indonesia and Suriname took place in Paramaribo on September 17-18 and the objective was to “recommit to strengthen cooperation that can translate into concrete results” between the two countries.  Read more 

Haiti’s trade deficit with DR amounts to $816 million US

HaitiLibre: The National Statistical Office (ONE) of the Dominican Republic has revealed that in 2017, trade between the two nations of the island reached 852.53 million US dollars. During this period, imports from Haiti amounted to $ 36.31 million, a positive trade surplus for DR of $ 816.22 million.  Read more 

WTO members review two regional trade agreements covering Africa, the Caribbean and the EU

WTO: WTO members reviewed Seychelles’ accession to the South African Development Community (SADC) trade protocol and the economic partnership agreement between the European Union and Cariforum states at the 18 September meeting of the Committee on Regional Trade Agreements. Members welcomed progress being made in the economic integration of the African region. Read more 

Barbados welcomes skilled CARICOM nationals

CaribbeanLife: While moving to tighten immigration security by introducing a state-of-the-art travel document, Barbados is opening its arms to Caribbean Community nationals who can help further develop the island. Read more 

Wang Yi: CARICOM and China share extensive interests

CGTN: Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi has called for closer cooperation between China and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to further build a community of shared future between the two. Read more 

UWI a CARICOM integration leader

Barbados Today: In order to assert themselves in the forefront of CARICOM integration, University of the West Indies academics must make their messages clear and easily understandable for both regional decision-makers and ordinary Caribbean citizens. Read more 

INTERNATIONAL

Theresa May sticks by Chequers plan for Brexit despite EU warning it ‘will not work’

Sky News: Theresa May is defiantly sticking by her Chequers strategy for Brexit, despite the EU insisting a key element of her plan “will not work” and issuing a four-week deadline to agree a deal. Read more

‘Majority of Cabinet’ now supports move towards Canada-style Brexit deal

The Telegraph: A majority of the Cabinet now supports moving towards a Canada-style trade deal with the EU following the outright rejection of PM Theresa May’s Chequers Plan. Read more 

US-China trade talks stall amid tariff standoff

CNN: Negotiations between the United States and China have stalled after President Donald Trump ordered new tariffs on Chinese goods. Read more 

European Commission presents comprehensive approach for the modernisation of the World Trade Organisation

EU: The EU’s approach to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) reform outlined in a document published today will be presented to EU partners in Geneva on 20 September during a meeting on that subject convened by Canada. Read more

Mauritania signs the Regional Economic Partnership agreement between West Africa and the EU

European Commission: Mauritania today became the 15th West African country to have signed the region-to-region Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union, an agreement negotiated with 16 countries of the region. Read more 

EU-India “fully committed” to move forward on free trade pact: Official 

Economic Times: The European Union and India are “fully committed” to moving forward on the proposed free trade agreement and discussions are on between the two sides on the much-delayed pact, according to an EU official. Read more 

USTR Finalizes Tariffs on $200 Billion of Chinese Imports in Response to China’s Unfair Trade Practices

USTR: As part of the United States’ continuing response to China’s theft of American intellectual property and forced transfer of American technology, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) today released a list of approximately $200 billion worth of Chinese imports that will be subject to additional tariffs. Read more 

One year on, EU-Canada trade agreement delivers positive results

European Commission: Friday 21 September will mark the first anniversary of the provisional entry into force of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada. Early signs show that the agreement is already starting to deliver for EU exporters. Read more 

 

China-Singapore trade agreement upgrade to be concluded by year-end

Channel News Asia: Singapore and China will conclude a substantive upgrade of their free trade agreement, which first came into effect in 2009, by the end of this year, said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean on Thursday (Sep 20). Read more 

South Korean Finance Minister Optimistic About Revised U.S. Trade Deal

Wall Street Journal: South Korean Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon expressed optimism about signing a revised U.S. free-trade pact into law, though lawmakers in Seoul have threatened to block the deal if Washington imposes new tariffs on Korean autos and auto parts. Read more 

Japan mulls bilateral trade deal with US: Nikkei

Reuters: Japan is mulling a bilateral trade agreement with the United States that would lower tariffs on U.S. agriculture imports in exchange for avoiding higher tariffs on Japanese autos, the Nikkei newspaper said on Saturday. Read more 

US very very close to Mexico-US only deal: White House

Global News: The United States is getting “very, very close” to having to move forward on its trade deal with Mexico without Canada, White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett said on Friday. Read more 

Mexico will seek deal with Canada if NAFTA talks fail: Lopez Obrador

Reuters: Mexico’s incoming government will pursue a bilateral deal with Canada if talks to overhaul the North American Free Trade Agreement falter, Mexican president-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Friday. Read more 

Mercosur Holds First Negotiating Round for Korea Trade Deal, Looks to EU Next Steps

ICTSD: Officials from the South American customs bloc Mercosur held negotiating meetings last week with South Korea and the European Union, respectively, as the coalition looks to cement trade ties with new partners. Read more 

Global Trade is thriving (for some)

Bloomberg: The West has turned hostile to open markets, but trade isn’t in retreat everywhere. In other parts of the world, it’s flourishing. Read more 

The Global Trade System could break down

Project Syndicate:  Ten years after the failure of Lehman Brothers, we know that multilateral action was crucial in preventing the so-called Great Recession from becoming even worse than it was. Back then, it was the global financial system that was tottering. Today, it is the global trade system that is in jeopardy. Read more 

NEW ON CTLD BLOG

This week, we were honoured to have our frequent guest author, Javier Spencer, return to give a critical analysis of what the Trump administration may mean for the WTO in this piece: Trump ‘trumps’ the WTO. You can also follow Javier on Twitter at @jav_d_spencer

The following other articles were posted:

EU makes initial proposals for WTO modernization

Urgent WTO reform needed, says G20 Trade and Investment ministers

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.

EU makes initial proposals for WTO modernization

Alicia Nicholls

The European Commission has released a concept paper outlining its initial proposals for making the WTO more relevant and adaptive to current global realities and for strengthening its effectiveness.

The paper originates from a mandate given by the European Council to the European Commission. It was published days after G20 trade and investment ministers called for urgent WTO reform and a month after United States’ President Donald Trump renewed his desire to withdraw the US from the WTO. It also comes against the backdrop of an escalation in unilateralism as Washington readies to impose a further $200 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods imports.

In the paper, the Commission reiterates the EU’s “staunch” support of the multilateral trading system, noting that the 164-member WTO was “indispensable in ensuring free and fair trade”. It warns, however, that the WTO is under threat. It notes that the organisation’s current marginalisation by some of its key members stem from its failure to “adapt sufficiently to the rapidly changing global economy”.

The 17-page concept paper offers proposals under three key areas and is in effect three papers in one. These areas are: rulemaking and development, regular work and transparency and dispute settlement.

The Commission recommends that the EU continue to the work on the issues under the existing Doha mandate, but also states there is urgent need to broaden the negotiating agenda, building on several initiatives launched at the Buenos Aires Ministerial held in December 2017. Lamenting the current inadequacy of the WTO’s Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures (SCM), the Commission calls for improved transparency and subsidy notifications, rules which better capture subsidies granted by state-owned enterprises and stricter rules for the most trade-distortive types of subsidies.

The Commission recommends updating current trade rules on services and investment, and further reduce existing market access barriers and discriminatory treatment of foreign investors. One issue of which the Commission was particularly critical was the need to tighten rules on forced technology transfer – practices by some States which force foreign investors to directly or indirectly share their technological innovations with the State or domestic investors. Indeed, intellectual property rights issues are a major sore point between US and China trade relations.

The Commission also sounds the alarm about the “grave danger” to the WTO’s dispute settlement system posed by the US’ blocking of Appellate Body judge appointments. By end of September, the Appellate Body would have only the minimum (just three judges on its roster) and by December 2019 will have less than the minimum required to hear an appeal as two more retire. As such, the Commission has made some initial proposals for amendments which would take into account many of the US’ concerns with the WTO dispute settlement system which had been outlined in the President’s Trade Policy Agenda for 2018. For example, the Commission has suggested amending the 90-days rule contained in Article 17.5 of the Dispute Settlement Understanding to provide for more transparency and consultation.

The Commission has made clear that the proposals were meant to be a basis for discussion with the EU Parliament, the Council and other WTO members, and did not prejudice the EU’s final positions on the matters.

The concept paper makes for an interesting read and 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.

Trump ‘trumps’ the WTO

Javier D. Spencer, Guest Contributor 

Javier

THE WTO

The 1995 organization has done considerably well to date as an arbiter of international trade. The organization was created as a response to the economic situation in the 1930’s that resulted in global tensions. Its predecessor, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), was ostensibly limited in scope and so, the consensual demand was for an inclusive and comprehensive institution to govern and promote international trade.

Achieving inclusive and comprehensive trade was daunting; nevertheless, the organization has attained the aforementioned buzzwords and continues along this trajectory. For instance, the WTO started with only 123 signatories under the Marrakesh Agreement in 1994 and today has over 160 members, with pending ascensions. Additionally, it is remarkable to note that the WTO agreements are comprehensive. They cover trade in goods, services, agriculture, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, intellectual property, rules of origin, subsidies, dispute settlement, and many more.

The WTO rests on its founding principles of non-discrimination, reciprocity, transparency, safety values, and binding and enforceable commitments such as the tariffs commitments in order to liberalize and promulgate free trade as a global public good. With these at its core, it is fair to say that the organization has lived up to its core function and objective.

Having regard to the organization’s core functions and objectives, governing global trade is no easy feat, especially taking into consideration competing political and economic interests among WTO member . The organization is a rules-based organization and these rules are agreed upon by consensus of member states. In this regard, the organization’s Dispute Settlement system remains a feather in the cap and its prized arm. The Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) has provided stability to the global economy by ensuring that agreed rules are enforced. Since its existence, the DSB has successfully deliberated on many cases that have maintained the integrity of the WTO rules.

Despite its successes, the future of the WTO remains vulnerable. At present, it is on the receiving end of dire threats from one of its founding members – the United States (US). Interestingly, the US led the global effort to establish the machinery to manage global trade. However, the present President of the United States (POTUS) lashes the organization as the worse deal for the US. POTUS’ actions to date are alarming – from delaying the appointment of members to the WTO Appellate body to dusting off Section 301 of the Trade Act to a brewing trade war with China and other countries to the burial of the NAFTA to public statements of leaving the WTO and much more. We should be worried about the future of the WTO.

TRUMP

The WTO is lauded by many countries as a fair and just organization that seeks to level the playing field and as much as possible promulgate all-inclusivity. However, not all world leaders share these sentiments. One example is the President of the United States, Donald Trump. Trump was elected as the 45th President of the United States and has been in office since January 2017. He triumphed over his opponent with his patented and infamous campaign slogan, “Make American Great Again”, a slogan that is purported to usher in better economic times for the United States of America. It was envisioned to focus on military operations and to focus on implementing mechanisms to fillip the job market and ailing industries in the US. The implication of this, of course, is that Trump’s actions would focus on US’ external trade policy. However, at what cost is Trump willing to “Make America Great Again?” Does he mean to make America great again by ruffling the feathers of a peaceful, collaborative, rules-based multilateral trading system?

It is without a doubt that Trump has very little faith in multilateral organizations. To date, the POTUS has adopted many controversial positions in global affairs, with harsh jabs towards the WTO. He has aired that the WTO does not serve the interest of the US and as such, the organization is biased and unfair to the country. He has further iterated that the WTO and the EU are collaborating against the US and as a result, transactions by these organizations are very ‘bad’ for the United States. These sentiments all lead to a threat to withdraw the US from the organization – much like the US withdrawal from the UN Human Rights body. The threats and dire warning aimed at the multilateral organization from the POTUS show isolationism, protectionism, nationalism, and I even dare say reverse globalization.

The stance on global trade, in particular, and actions that are taken show that POTUS’  external trade policy remains a mystery. One thing is for certain, he strives to deliver on his campaign promise of remedying the trade [im] balances that the US has with other countries, in an effort to “Make America Great Again”. The achievement of this infamous slogan has led to a trade war with China, sanctions against Turkey, a failed trilateral negotiation of NAFTA and other trade turbulences – with surely more to follow.

In early July, in a claim to fix the unfairness in trade, the US imposed 25% tariffs on $34 billion worth of Chinese goods. This then extended to steel and aluminium imports from Canada and the European Union. (The move to extend the imposed tariffs to the other countries could be looked at from the lens of ensuring that Chinese firms do not engage in deflective trade strategies by establishing firms in these territories and export under the guise of these territories.) As the US imposed these tariffs on Chinese goods, China returned the favour by imposing tariffs on US goods and as such, a tit-for-tat trade war ensued. For Trump, he deemed that the imposition of tariffs was necessary and served as “national security” interest of the United States. This exemption clause is enshrined in the 1994 GATT Article XXI of the WTO agreement and is certainly one loophole of which the POTUS will take full advantage.

The example of the US-China brewing trade war definitely puts the global rules-based system in peril. It brings into question the authority or jurisdiction of the WTO to advise the US of the legitimacy of “essential” or national security claims. However, on the other hand, supporting Trump will legitimize a major loophole in the global trade rules. At this crossroads, the WTO faces an uphill battle with a world leader’s determination to dismantle decades of the global trade order.

The POTUS’ actions to weaken the organization goes beyond Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, which was the US domestic legislation used to spur the trade war. In fact, there is a draft a bill that the POTUS has advanced that would have dire consequences for the WTO and the global trading system. The Fair and Reciprocal Tariff Act (FART Act) is de facto a mechanism for the POTUS to completely disregard the WTO rules. In other words, the Act confers rights on the POTUS to adjust tariffs rates with countries outside of the WTO jurisdiction, without much red tape and authorization of Congress.

 WHAT WILL HAPPEN?

With all that is happening now in the global trade environment, the brewing question is what would happen if the WTO were dismantled by the US. As a global hegemon, the US’ exit of the WTO will certainly cause a domino effect. Other countries will follow and move to impose tariffs to their absolute advantage – making the rules-based organization and its decades of work useless.

POTUS certainly has no faith in the multilateral trading system and is reshaping the US’ external trade policy by striving for bilateral trade agreements with countries. There is nothing inherently wrong with negotiating bilateral agreements with third-party states. In fact, there are provisions made within the WTO rules-based system that enables countries to create regional trade agreements. However, it would seem that POTUS’ aim is to completely ignore the rules and create his own rules. Rules that would only advance the economic interest of the US, which may not maintain the integrity and ethos of free and fair global trade. This form of trade policy is one where we will see that the US will use economic pressure to its whims and fancy.

Many cases have proved the WTO’s worth in regulating global trade so that there is an equal opportunity available to all member states. Developing countries and countries of the Global South should make it a priority to save the WTO. In particular, the Caribbean Small Vulnerable Economies (SVEs) should focus on the future of the WTO against the backdrop of POTUS’ withdrawal threat. The US remains the Caribbean’s largest trading partner for both imports and exports.  So, what would a US withdrawal mean for these Member States? An appropriate question considering US-Antigua Gambling Case. Antigua is yet to be compensated and the possibility of the US complying with the WTO’s ruling is unpromising. With the US’ pronounced economic influence on the region, its withdrawal would further subject the Caribbean SVE’s to the US “beggar-thy-neighbour” trade policy.

It would be unfortunate for all if the actions of one President collapse a just and fair trading system.

Javier Spencer, B.Sc., M.Sc., is an International Business & Trade Professional with a B.Sc. in International Business and a M.Sc. in International Trade Policy. His professional interests include Regional Integration, International Business, Global Diplomacy and International Trade & Development. He may be contacted at javier.spencer at gmail.com.

Urgent WTO reform needed, says G20 Trade and Investment ministers

Alicia Nicholls

Trade and investment ministers of the world’s twenty leading industrialised economies (G20) have called for urgent reform of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to ensure its ability to “face current and future challenges”. This is according to the Ministerial Statement released following the G20 Trade and Investment Ministerial Meeting held on September 14, 2018 in Mar del Plata, Argentina.

The 164-member WTO serves not just as the only multilateral forum for the negotiation of global trading rules, but is a forum for the orderly and peaceful resolution of trade disputes amongst WTO member countries. While the Ministerial Statement does not detail what specific reforms the G20 Ministers deem necessary, it implores all G20 member countries and other interested parties to explore ideas to safeguard the continued relevancy of the multilateral trade governance organisation. G20 member countries have also ‘stepped up’ dialogue on current international trade developments.

The statement comes in the wake of increased threats to the multilateral rules-based trading system. The most recent are the current escalating trade tensions between the US and China manifested in the imposition of billions of dollars’ worth of tariffs on goods by both sides. It also comes  amidst new threats by United States’ President, Donald Trump, to withdraw the US from the WTO, which he perceives to be inherently biased towards the US. This is, despite independent research showing that the US, which is the most litigious of the WTO member countries, wins about 91% of the trade disputes in which it was the complainant, and 89% of cases as respondent. Despite this positive track record, the Trump administration continues to block Appellate Body judge selections, which threatens to grind the WTO’s once vaunted dispute settlement body system to a halt.

Concerns about the relevance of the WTO predate the Trump administration, with a major concern being the WTO’s consensus-based decision making model which requires agreement by all member countries for progress to be made. Out of frustration with the slow pace of the Doha negotiations and the refusal to include new emerging issues into negotiations, there was a marked shift in the US focus during the Obama Administration from the now defunct Doha Development Round negotiations towards the negotiation of mega regional trade agreements. However, the Trump administration marks the first time a US administration has openly threatened to withdraw from the WTO, an organisation it was instrumental in pushing for and forming.

One positive aspect to the Trump administration’s anti-WTO stance and actions is that they have given new urgency to the need to reform the WTO to secure its relevance, efficiency and effectiveness for all members, including small vulnerable economies (SVEs). SVEs account for only a tiny fraction of world trade, but generally have high levels of trade openness and a narrow range of exports and export partners. As such, any unfair trade practices by one of their major trading partners which prejudices an SVE’s exports, could have a deleterious impact on its economy and development prospects.

Despite the problems inherent with the consensus-based decision making model, the removal of such a system would likely undermine the WTO’s legitimacy and disenfranchise less powerful member countries, such as SVEs. The WTO is of particular importance to SVEs because it is one international organisation in which they have equal voice, and because, at least in theory, it provides a mechanism for small States to hold hegemons to account when they engage in unfair trade practices. This, however, has not always been the case. For instance, Antigua & Barbuda’s inability to receive compensation from the United States following the rulings in the US-Antigua Gambling case is the most glaring example of how power asymmetries affect small States’ ability to hold powerful States to account, even where rulings have been made in their favour.

There have been numerous calls for reform of the WTO over the years, as well as several studies, including this one by Bertelsmann Stiftung, which have posited recommendations. Encouragingly, current Director General of the WTO has expressed support and willingness for reform of the organisation, noting that some countries have already begun talks. It is hoped that CARICOM countries, as well as other SVEs, will demand a voice in these discussions and offer their ideas for reforming the WTO to ensure it meets their needs. The presence of CARICOM at the G20 Trade and Investment Ministers meeting, represented by Jamaica, is a good start.

Despite the WTO’s shortcomings, the fact that non-Members continue to pursue accession to the WTO show that countries generally still see value in the organisation.

In essence, the G20 Statement shows support in principle, at least from a majority of the world’s largest economies, for the continuation of the rules-based multilateral trading system which the WTO affords and states commitment towards making the reform of the WTO an urgent priority. Now these words must be translated into action.

The full G20 Trade and Investment Ministers’ Ministerial Statement may be read 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.

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