Welcome to the Caribbean Trade & Development Digest for the week of October 14-20, 2018! We are happy to bring you the major trade and development headlines and analysis from across the Caribbean Region and the world from the past week.
THIS WEEK’S HIGHLIGHTS
In its latest Investment Trends Monitor, UNCTAD has reported that global FDI fell by 41% in the first half of 2018 due primarily to the large repatriations by US parent companies of accumulated foreign earnings from their foreign affiliates due to US government tax reforms. The full report may be found here.
The OECD has published a list of citizenship and residence by investment programmes which it deems “high risk” to the Common Reporting Standard, and names several programmes operated by Caribbean countries.
Nearly 700,000 protesters in London participated in the People’s March calling for a referendum on the UK’s final Brexit deal with the EU. Closer to home, in Haiti, President Moise has agreed to protesters’ calls for an investigation into the alleged misuse of funds received by Haiti under the PetroCaribe Agreement with Venezuela. Venezuela has announced it will replace the US dollar for the euro for use in international payments.
Please see further headlines below:
Jamaica Prime Minister wants Spanish to be second language
Magnetic Media: Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, says it is of strategic importance that the appropriate programmes be put in place, making Spanish a second language in Jamaica. Read more
Support grows for marijuana decriminalisation across the region
Jamaica Observer: The chairperson of the Caricom Regional Commission on Marijuana Professor Rose-Marie Belle Antoine says there’s much support across the region for the decriminalisation of marijuana. Read more
Haiti’s President Launches Petrocaribe probe
VoA: Responding to protester demands to “tell us where the PetroCaribe money is” Moise tweeted Thursday that his administration would investigate the allegations of misuse of funds and would hold all those responsible accountable. Read more
Haiti protests over politicians’ misuse of Petrocaribe funds
Al Jazeera: Protests in Haiti have turned violent as anger grows over billions of dollars of missing funds that were meant to provide social care and improve public services. Read more
IMF Outlook for Latin America and the Caribbean
IMF: Amid escalating trade tensions, tighter financial conditions, and volatile commodity markets, economic recovery in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) has both moderated and become more uneven. However, activity is recovering in the Caribbean, reflecting the uptick in tourism owing to robust US and global growth. Read more
Is the Caribbean becoming a junkyard for Japanese excesses? (Commentary)
St Lucia News Now: Statistics from the islands show that thousands of cars are imported into the Caribbean from Japan annually. Eight of every ten cars imported have or are nearing the age of serviceability. Many of these vehicles will retire after a few years of use with the stark reality being that they will need to be disposed of. Read more
Caribbean countries set to reduce trade hurdles
UNCTAD: Senior trade officials from the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) have met with UNCTAD experts to discuss a new drive to help them improve the efficiency of their cross-border trade. Read more
Will Mexico’s free zones affect Belize?
LoveFM: Tracy Taeger-Panton, the Minister of State Responsible for Investment, Trade and Commerce says it is still unclear what Mexico’s plans are but the Government is looking at ways to develop the economy of the northern districts. Read more
Bahamas elected to UN Human Rights Council
Magnetic Media: The Bahamas was elected by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), on 12 October 2018 to serve on the Human Rights Council (HRC). The HRC was created by the UNGA in 2006, replacing the former UN Human Rights Commission, and is the UN organ responsible for promoting and protecting human rights worldwide. Read more
WHO removes Caribbean from Zika classification
Jamaica Observer: The World Health Organisation (WHO) has removed its Zika virus country classification scheme from countries in the region. The scheme had categorised most of the Caribbean territories as having active Zika virus transmission. Read more
Overseas investment failing, developing countries largely unscathed: UNCTAD
UN: Foreign direct investment (FDI) has dropped 40 per cent year-on-year so far, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said on Monday, but the $470 million decline is happening mainly in wealthy, industrialized nations, especially in North America and Western Europe. Read more
Venezuela ditching US dollar for euros in international trade
Caribbean360: Venezuela will drop the US dollar from its exchange market in favour of the Euro, in reaction to crippling sanctions imposed by the United States. Read more
Canada launches safeguard investigation on certain steel products
WTO: On 12 October 2018, Canada notified the WTO’s Committee on Safeguards that it initiated on 11 October 2018 a safeguard investigation on certain steel products. Read more
WTO members review use, application of preferential rules of origin for LDCs
WTO: At a meeting of the Committee on Rules of Origin on 15-16 October, WTO members further reviewed the use and application of preferential rules of origin programmes for least developed countries (LDCs) in line with commitments made at the WTO’s 2013 Bali and 2015 Nairobi ministerial conferences. Read more
DG Azevêdo: Debate on WTO reform should reflect all perspectives
WTO: At a meeting of the full WTO membership today (16 October), Director-General Roberto Azevêdo noted the emerging debate on ‘WTO reform’ and highlighted the importance that this discussion is inclusive. Read more
Australia accepted as new party to government procurement pact
WTO: On 17 October 2018, parties to the WTO plurilateral Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) unanimously approved a decision to welcome Australia as the 48th WTO member to be covered by the Agreement. Read more
WTO members fix dates for Astana Ministerial Conference
WTO: WTO members have agreed that the organization’s next Ministerial Conference will take place from 8 to 11 June 2020 in Astana, Kazakhstan. The dates were endorsed at an 18 October meeting of the WTO’s General Council. Read more
670,000 march to demand final say on Brexit
The Independent: Masses overflowed through the streets of London for more than a mile, from Hyde Park Corner to Parliament Square, as an estimated 670,000 protesters took their demand for a fresh Brexit referendum right to Theresa May’s doorstep. Read more
Singapore, EU ink landmark free trade agreement
ChannelNewsAsia: Singapore and the European Union (EU) on Friday (Oct 19) inked a landmark trade deal that will eliminate tariffs and give businesses across various sectors, especially small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), better market access.
Trump embarks on bilateral trade talks to pressure China
New York Times: Fresh off securing trade agreements with South Korea, Canada and Mexico, President Trump is embarking on a new plan: refashioning the Trans-Pacific Partnership to his liking through a flurry of bilateral trade deals. Read more
Australia insists trade agreement with Indonesia on track despite Israel comments
Channel News Asia: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Wednesday a billion-dollar free trade agreement with Indonesia will be signed this year despite a furious reaction to Canberra’s potential move to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
2018 Update of the EU Control List of Dual-Use Items
EU: On 10 October 2018, the Commission adopted the annual Delegated Regulation that updates the EU dual-use export control list in Annex I to Regulation (EC) No 428/2009 and brings it in line with the decisions taken within the framework of the international non-proliferation regimes and export control arrangements in 2017. Read more
EU completes second round of negotiations with New Zealand
EU: EU negotiators were in Wellington, New Zealand from 8 to 12 October 2018 for the second round of negotiations for a trade agreement. Read more
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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.