Monthly Archives: November 2018

Have Caribbean Citizenship by Investment Programmes Run Their Course?

Alicia Nicholls

Caribbean Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programmes, and to a lesser but growing extent, residence by investment (RBI) programmes, are facing a rough ride. The latest blow came when the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) deemed CBI/RBI programmes operated by 21 jurisdictions, including those in the Caribbean, as “high risk to the integrity of the Common Reporting Standard”. While the OECD has clarified that this was not a blacklist, the list puts another glaring spotlight on Caribbean CBI/RBI programmes which are already battling to justify their existence to an increasing choir of skeptics.  In October, the European Union (EU) released a report analysing the state of play, issues and impacts of its own members’ programmes. With the mounting scrutiny being placed on Caribbean countries’ CBI/RBI programmes and stiffened competition from other investment migration programmes globally, have Caribbean countries’ CBI programmes run their course?

What are CBI Programmes?

CBI programmes are one of the two main types of investment migration programme – programmes which offer high net worth (HNW) investors accelerated citizenship or residence of the host country in exchange for a pecuniary contribution. Unlike RBI programmes which only confer accelerated permanent residence status, CBI programmes grant a qualifying investor, upon making a specified economic contribution to the host country (usually in real estate, investment in a business or in a specified government fund), accelerated citizenship for himself/herself and his/her qualifying spouse and/or dependents, once all relevant fees are paid and due diligence requirements are met. It means that a person can acquire citizenship or residence of another country in just a few months, compared to several years under regular naturalisation procedures.

Five Caribbean countries currently operate CBI programmes: St. Kitts & Nevis (the world’s oldest CBI programme), Dominica, Grenada, Antigua & Barbuda and St. Lucia. International examples include the EU member states of Austria, Cyprus and Malta, and the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu.

Second citizenship is a booming international industry reportedly worth US $3 billion, according to Citizenship by Investment.ch. There are now over one hundred CBI/RBI programmes worldwide, which seek to lure an expanding and highly mobile class of global High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs) seeking the advantages a more favourable second passport could bring for themselves and their families. These advantages include greater mobility and security, tax planning advantages, and business opportunities.

The British Overseas Territory of Anguilla is the most recent Caribbean jurisdiction to commence a RBI programme, but versions of these programmes are also operated in the Bahamas, Barbados, Montserrat and Turks & Caicos, for example. Examples of RBI programmes in developed countries include the United States’ EB-5 programme and the United Kingdom’s Tier 1 Visa.

Challenges to Caribbean CBI/RBI programmes

Those Caribbean countries which operate them view these programmes as a pathway for economic diversification and development, bringing greatly needed foreign exchange and foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows, infrastructure development, and employment opportunities. In its Article IV Report on Dominica, which had been badly affected by category five Hurricane Maria in September 2017, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) noted that “fiscal performance deteriorated sharply due to the fall in tax revenue after the hurricane, but was partially offset by a surge in grants and buoyant Citizenship-by-Investment (CBI) sales revenues.”

Despite their economic benefits, CBI programmes have always been controversial due to some governments’ philosophical aversion to what many have called the “commodification of citizenship” or “selling of passports”. Indeed, CARICOM Member States remain philosophically divided on the desirability of CBI programmes.

There have also been, in some cases, legitimate concerns about the efficacy of the due diligence procedures, the perceived absence of a ‘genuine link’ between recipients of citizenship under CBI programmes and the host country, and reports of alleged instances of misuse of passports obtained under CBI programmes, which have brought increased international scrutiny of Caribbean countries’ CBI programmes.

One of the pull factors of Caribbean countries’ CBI programmes is the visa free access. For example, on the Henley & Partners Passport Index published by the world’s leading investment migration firm, Henley & Partners, St. Kitts and Nevis ranked the highest among Caribbean CBI countries in the strength of its passport,  providing visa-free access to 151 countries. Unfortunately, this advantage may be undermined if third countries, as is their right, decide to revoke visa-free access to citizens originating from countries offering CBI programmes, due to national security concerns. For example, Canada imposed visa requirements for citizens from St. Kitts & Nevis in 2014 and from Antigua & Barbuda in 2017 over similar concerns. Both countries have subsequently made changes to their programmes, but their citizens have not yet regained visa-free access to Canada.

The US Government has also repeatedly flagged Caribbean CBI programmes as possibly being used for financial crime, including in its International Narcotics Control Strategy Report 2017. With the current US administration taking an even tougher stance on national security,  US scrutiny of Caribbean CBI programmes is likely to continue or even intensify.

The European Commission has already sounded the alarm about the potential security risks that golden passport programmes operated by its own members could pose to the bloc. It reiterated this in its recently released report on those programmes operated in the EU.  But this scrutiny is not limited to EU CBI/RBI programmes. In a recently released report, global NGOs, Transparency International and Global Witness, also recently called on the EU to review its visa waiver schemes with those Caribbean countries operating CBI programmes.

In light of this scrutiny, other CARICOM Member States which do not operate programmes have feared that they themselves may suffer reputational and security risks due to the CBI programmes of other Member States. The CARICOM Secretariat has been examining the issue of CBI programmes operated by member states, but there appears to be no public information on what have been the outcomes of this examination thus far.

The other risk comes from increased global competition. The list of countries offering some kind of CBI or RBI programme has grown exponentially in the years since the global economic and financial crisis. For instance, this year Moldova started its own CBI. Moreover, while St. Vincent & the Grenadines is currently the only independent member of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) to not offer a CBI programme due to the current government’s philosophical opposition to these programmes, the leader of St. Vincent & the Grenadines’ opposition party recently reaffirmed his support for launching a CBI programme there. What this shows is that countries around the world still see the economic potential of these programmes and it also means that competition is increasing.

Caribbean countries’ CBI programmes have ranked high on the Professional Wealth Management (PWM) Index. Regrettably, the increased competition between Caribbean CBI programmes both inter se and with other CBI programmes internationally has led to an apparent ‘race to the bottom’ among Caribbean CBI programmes in the form of price competition.

The OECD Challenge to CBI/RBI programmes

In early 2018, the OECD announced that it was examining CBI/RBI programmes as part of its Common Reporting Standard (CRS) loophole strategy and requested public input into the misuse of these programmes and effective ways of preventing abuse. The CRS is an information standard approved by the OECD Council in 2014 for the automatic exchange of tax information among tax authorities of countries which are signatories. CRS jurisdictions are required to obtain certain financial account information of their tax residents from their financial institutions and automatically share this information with other CRS jurisdictions on an annual basis. Most Caribbean IFCs are early adopters of the CRS.

While noting that CBI/RBI programmes may have legitimate uses, the OECD stated that CBI/RBI programmes are a risk to the CRS because they can be misused by persons to hide their assets offshore and because the documentation (such as ID cards) obtained through these programmes could be used to misrepresent an individual’s jurisdiction of tax residence. This, the OECD noted, could occur when persons fail to report all the jurisdictions in which they are resident for tax purposes.

In April 2018, the OECD published a compilation of the responses it had received, which also included responses by countries in the Caribbean offering CBI programmes. In its list of ‘high risk CBI/RBI” programmes to the integrity of the CRS” published in October 2018,  the OECD focused on those CBI/RBI programmes which gave access to a lower personal income tax rate on offshore financial assets and those which did not require an individual to spend a significant amount of time in the host jurisdiction.

It should be noted that reporting for CRS purposes is based on tax residence and that just because an investor has obtained citizenship of a country under a CBI programme, does not mean that he or she is automatically deemed to be a tax resident of the country. For example, a person may obtain St Lucian citizenship under St. Lucia’s CBI programme pursuant to the Citizenship by Investment Act and regulations, but under the St. Lucia Income Tax Act, he or she is only deemed to be resident for income tax purposes in St. Lucia for a given income year if he/she has been physically present there for not less than 183 days in that income year.

While the OECD has clarified that the list of ‘high risk CBI/RBI programmes’ was not a blacklist, there is concern about what reputational impact this list may have on the countries whose programmes were named. Financial institutions have been told by the OECD to bear in mind its analysis of high-risk CBI/RBI schemes when performing their CRS due diligence, which potentially brings increased scrutiny for Caribbean countries, which are already suffering the loss of correspondent banking relationships due to de-risking practices by risk-averse global banks.

Have CBI programmes run their course?

Given the growing array of challenges outlined, have CBI programmes run their course? While I do not think Caribbean CBI programmes have run their course, I think that there needs to be strong consideration by each of the countries concerned, and their citizens, of whether the economic benefits justify the increasing reputational and security risks, and to consider what further changes could be made to make their programmes more sustainable.

Caribbean countries are well aware that it is not in their interest for their CBI/RBI programmes to be perceived as loopholes for tax evasion or other criminal activity. It is, therefore, in their interest to work with the OECD to address the concerns raised about the potential for misuse of their CBI programmes.

According to the communique released at the 66th Meeting of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Authority, that organisation’s highest body, it was noted  as follows:

“The Heads engaged in extensive discussions on the matter, noting the unreasonableness of the OECD position, and resolved to undertake comprehensive reviews of the respective CBI and RBI Programmes to ensure that areas where they may be limitations are identified and strengthened.”

This is a promising development and it is hoped that these reviews will be conducted in a timely manner, that the results will be made public in the spirit of transparency and that the recommendations made will be implemented.

To their credit, there already exists cooperation among the Citizenship by Investment Units or equivalents of the Caribbean CIP countries through the Association of the Citizenship By Investment (CIPA). They have also been receiving the assistance of  the Joint Regional Control Centre arm of the CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS).

There is the real risk that countries may become overly dependent on CBI programme revenues for their fiscal and macroeconomic stability during boom times, leaving them vulnerable during periods of leaner revenue inflows. Since 2010, revenues from its programme have buoyed St. Kitts & Nevis’ economy, but the IMF in its Article IV Report of 2017 warned that “ the recent slowdown in CBI-related inflows and the ending of the five-year holding period for CBI properties call for close monitoring of the implications for the financial sector through the real estate market and banks’ exposure to real-estate-related activities.”

On a broader note, a comprehensive study of the economic contribution these CBI programmes have made and are making to the economies and societies of these Caribbean countries is recommended. This would provide empirical evidence of whether the macroeconomic benefits outweigh the reputational and national security risks. In this regard, the recent EU study on its own programmes could provide a good model for CARICOM or the OECS in terms of analysing the state of play and the impacts of Caribbean countries’ CBI/RBI programmes and making recommendations for mitigating the risks identified.

Such a study will require sound data. This brings me to another problem with these programmes – the transparency deficit, which was also highlighted by Transparency International and Global Witness in their report. Obtaining data on these programmes remains regrettably difficult due to the unfortunate reluctance by some authorities to share data publicly, even with researchers. Though some data on the macroeconomic contribution of these programmes may be obtained from those countries’ IMF Article IV reports, other data, such as employment generated by these programmes, are not.

Making data on these programmes publicly available will not only negate the perceived opacity of these programmes’ operation, but facilitate evidence-based planning, monitoring and evaluation of these programmes.

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 and Development Digest – November 18 – 24, 2018

Welcome to the Caribbean Trade & Development Digest for the week of November 18-24, 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

This was another busy week in trade news! The WTO published its report on G20 trade measures showing that trade restrictive measures have increased significantly. The EU Summit saw the approval by EU leaders of the UK-EU Brexit Withdrawal Agreement but the agreement still has several other hurdles to overcome, including approval by the UK parliament where it remains deeply unpopular.

Please see below some of the other major headlines:

REGIONAL

Barbados overhauls corporate tax regime, slashes tax rate on local companies more than 20 per cent

Caribbean360: Barbados will harmonise its domestic and international corporation tax regimes by December 31, 2018, slashing the tax burden for some local companies by up to 29 per cent. Read more

Guyana and the EU reach an agreement to promote trade in legal timber products and improve forest governance

Antigua Observer: Guyana and the European Union (EU) have concluded a six-year process of negotiations towards a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA), which aims to improve the application of forest laws, strengthen forest governance and promote trade in legal wood products. Read more 

Glasgow University To Pay Reparations For £200m Extracted From Region

Jamaica Gleaner: Vice Chancellor of The University of the West Indies (UWI) Sir Hilary Beckles has reported that The University of Glasgow in the United Kingdom (UK) has agreed to pay reparations for £200 million (approximately J$34 billion) taken from the Caribbean. Read more 

Bahamas’ WTO membership is no “fait accompli”

Tribune 242: The Government’s chief World Trade Organisation (WTO) negotiator yesterday said The Bahamas’ accession was no “fait accompli”, telling accountants: “I’m not tied to any outcome.” Read more 

Bahamas Chamber hires consultant for WTO Impact analysis

Tribune 242: The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce has hired Oxford Economics to study the likely economic impact of this nation’s accession to full World Trade Organisation (WTO) membership. Read more 

UK Hydrographic Office presents Guyana with marine geospatial data

Government of the UK: UKHO presents Guyanese Government with findings from a recent seabed mapping campaign to support the sustainable growth of its blue economy. Read more 

Full CSME implementation needs to be advanced in light of global trade wars – CARICOM

CARICOM: The CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) could be used to insulate the region from the fallout of escalating global trade wars suggests the CARICOM Secretary-General. Read more

CARICOM Development funds must be replenished soon 

Loop News Barbados: The CARICOM Development Fund (CDF) has stimulated higher incomes and expanded trade for the Caribbean region. However, you cannot pour from an empty cup, therefore members states are being urged to put their monies forward to ensure the Fund can continue to deliver for the islands, and can look into forging partnerships to garner more benefits for small and medium enterprises as well. Read more 

CARICOM Looking To Re-Introduce Single Security Check

St Lucia Times: The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is seeking to re-introduce the single security check for direct transit passengers on multi-stop intra-community flights. Read more 

 

INTERNATIONAL 

EU leaders agree UK’s Brexit deal

BBC: EU leaders have approved an agreement on the UK’s withdrawal and future relations – insisting it is the “best and only deal possible”. Read more 

China is paying for Most of Trump’sTrade War, Research says 

Bloomberg: President Donald Trump is succeeding in making China pay most of the cost of his trade war.That’s the conclusion of a new paper from EconPol Europe, a network of researchers in the European Union. Read more

Africa-China trade hits $230bn

Business Report: Over the past decade China’s trade with Africa increased from $100 billion (R1.4 trillion) in 2007 to $230bn by the end of 2017. Read more 

Africa: Trade Misinvoicing Costs South Africa U.S.$7.4 Billion in Tax a Year

All Africa: While SARS is scrambling to meet collection targets, a new report estimates the country lost $37-billion in revenue to trade misinvoicing in five years. Trade misinvoicing is thought to be the largest component of illicit financial flows, draining developing countries of much-needed finances. Read more 

Trudeau meets key trade partners to talk about future of Pacific trade deal

Toronto City News: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is spending his last day at a major economic summit meeting with two key trading allies across the Pacific in the shadow of an ongoing trade war between the world’s two biggest economies. Read more 

Investors hope for trade war ceasefire at G20 summit

The Guardian: There are hopes, however limited, that the meeting between the two leaders in Buenos Aires will result in a calming of tensions which have so far resulted in huge share price drops, most notably in US tech stocks. Read more 

India seeks binding commitments to simplify services trade in RCEP 
Economic Times: India has asked 15 Asia-Pacific countries to make “binding and commercially meaningful” commitments to simplify trade in information technology and business services aimed at easing movement of skilled professionals in the proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement being negotiated. Read more

Panels established to review US steel and aluminium tariffs, countermeasures on US imports

WTO: At its meeting on 21 November, the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) agreed to requests from seven members for the establishment of panels to examine tariffs imposed by the United States on steel and aluminium imports. Read more 

WTO report shows sharp rise in trade-restrictive measures from G20 economies

WTO: The WTO’s 20th monitoring report on Group of 20 (G20) trade measures issued on 22 November shows that the amount of trade covered by new import-restrictive measures hit a new high during the current reporting period.  Read more 

WTO, UNCTAD, ITC sign MoU to provide businesses with better access to trade data

WTO: The WTO, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the International Trade Centre (ITC) signed today (23 November) a Memorandum of Understanding to advance the development of an online platform — the Global Trade Helpdesk — aimed at providing businesses, and particularly small businesses, with faster and easier access to trade data and information on potential export markets. Read more 

Items proposed for consideration at the next meeting of the Dispute Settlement Body

WTO: The WTO Secretariat has circulated a meeting notice and list of items proposed for the next meeting, on 4 December 2018, of the Dispute Settlement Body, which consists of all WTO members and oversees legal disputes among them. Read more 

Morocco files appeal against panel ruling in dispute with Turkey over steel duties

WTO: Morocco filed an appeal on 20 November concerning the WTO panel report in the case brought by Turkey in “Morocco — Anti-dumping Measures on Certain Hot-Rolled Steel from Turkey” (DS513). The panel report was circulated to WTO members on 31 October. Read more

Panama files appeal against compliance panel ruling in dispute with Colombia over import measures

WTO: Panama filed an appeal on 20 November concerning the WTO compliance panel report in the case “Colombia — Measures Relating to the Importation of Textiles, Apparel and Footwear (Recourse to Article 21.5 of the DSU by Colombia and Panama)” (DS461). The compliance panel report was circulated to WTO members on 5 October. Read more

WTO members review regional trade agreements covering EU, Ghana and EAEU

WTO: WTO members reviewed the interim Economic Partnership Agreement between the European Union and Ghana at the 19 November meeting of the Committee on Regional Trade Agreements. Members also considered the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) treaty and EAEU accessions of Armenia and the Kyrgyz Republic. Read more

The Caribbean Trade & Development Digest is a weekly trade news digest published by the Caribbean Trade Law & Development Blog. Liked this issue? To read past issues, please visit here. To receive these mailings directly to your inbox, please follow our blog.

G20 Trade Restrictive Measures Increase Significantly, WTO reports

Alicia Nicholls

The world’s twenty most economically powerful countries, the Group of 20 (G20), imposed a record number of trade restrictive measures between mid-May to mid-October 2018. This is according to the World Trade Organisation’s just released Report on G-20 Trade Measures, which  revealed that G20 countries’ trade-restrictive measures, estimated at US$481 billion, covered six times more trade than in the previous reporting period and were the biggest since this measure was first calculated in 2012.

According to the WTO’s report which was released on November 22nd, G20 economies applied a total of 40 trade-restrictive measures during the review period (May 16 to October 15, 2018) or about eight such measures per month, on average. These measures included tariff increases, import bans and export duties. According to the WTO, “about 79% of the current import-restrictive coverage is associated with bilateral measures between U.S. and China”.

G20 countries also implemented a higher number of trade remedy investigations than they terminated, but the gap between initiations and terminations has narrowed. Initiations of anti-dumping investigations accounted for three-fourths of all initiations during the review period. The WTO noted that iron and steel and products of iron and steel, furniture, bedding, mattresses and electrical machinery and parts thereof were the main sectors affected by trade remedy initiations.

On the flip side, G20 countries applied a total of 33 trade-facilitative measures, or seven trade-facilitative measures per month. These included eliminating or reducing import tariffs and export duties. The trade coverage of import-facilitating measures was US$ 216 billion. One silver lining is the WTO’s Information Technology Agreement which liberalized an additional US$541 billion of trade and has been an important trade liberalization measure.

Another nugget of good news is that despite the current crisis facing the WTO’s Appellate Body, the report noted that WTO members’ use of the WTO’s dispute settlement system remained high, which shows that WTO members still value the dispute settlement system.

The report presents the first concrete evidence of trade restrictive measures implemented during the current period of escalating trade tensions among the world’s major trading powers, most notably the US and China. It also comes on the heels of the just released report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) which warned that global economic growth had peaked on the back of the slowdown in global trade and investment flows and appealing to the global policymakers to increase cooperation on matters of trade and the multilateral trading system.

In his statement on the report, WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo warned that “the report’s findings should be of serious concern for G20 governments and the whole international community.” He further warned that “further escalation remains a real threat” and that “if we continue along the current course, the economic risks will increase, with potential effects for growth, jobs and consumer prices around the world.” As a result, he noted that while the WTO was doing all it could to support efforts to de-escalate the situation, he called on political will and leadership from the G20 to find solutions.

The full WTO Report on G20 Trade Measures (mid-May 2018 to mid-October 2018) may be accessed 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.

Why WTO Reform Matters for Caribbean Small States

Alicia Nicholls

At the conclusion of its 47th Meeting this week, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) released a statement in support of the multilateral trading system and its guardian, the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which are currently under threat. All independent CARICOM member States, with the exception of the Bahamas which is currently in the process of accession, are WTO members and have a rich history of engagement in the WTO. WTO reform is more than a moot point for the Caribbean, but a question of economic and sustainable development importance for the region.

What is the Multilateral Trading System and the WTO?

The multilateral trading system was formed at the end of the Second World War with the creation of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), the progenitor to the WTO, in 1947. This rules-based system has provided for the predictable and peaceful conduct of global trade for more than a half century to the benefit of the global economy.

Since its inception in 1995, the WTO has been the guardian of the multilateral trading system. Its 164 members account for over 97% of global trade, with 22 other countries currently in the accession process. Despite its flaws, some of which I will come to shortly, the WTO has been an important building block in the global economic governance structure. Among its functions, the organisation serves not just as a permanent forum for negotiation of global trading rules among its members, but its dispute settlement system provides to WTO members an exclusive and compulsory system for the timely and orderly settlement of trade disputes.

Why the need for reform?

The core functions of the WTO have become increasingly under strain. Calls for reform are not new, but have intensified in recent years. Without doubt, the United States’ threat of withdrawal unless its own demands are met, has invigorated political will for reform of the WTO.

Firstly, the negotiation function of the WTO is in a paralytic state given the inability of member states to conclude the Doha Development Agenda – the latest round of trade negotiations which were launched at the Doha Ministerial in 2001 and whose only major agreement so far is the Trade Facilitation Agreement. The paralysis has been due largely to current decision-making procedures and the increased number of members which has made multilateral rule-making on ever more complex trade issues difficult. Secondly, the US has been blocking the appointment of judges to the WTO’s Appellate Body, which means there are currently only three judges, the minimum needed to hear a dispute. The once vaunted system will grind to a halt by December 2019 when two other judges’ terms are up for renewal. Thirdly, there are concerns with the lack of compliance by some States with notification and transparency requirements which impacts on the WTO’s monitoring function.

In response, many countries have not just pivoted their attention away from the multilateral table towards the regional arena, but there is growing protectionism and resort to unilateral measures. In its latest economic outlook released November 21st , the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) warned that global GDP growth has peaked on the back of a slowdown in global trade and investment flows owing to current trade tensions. The OECD has, therefore, called for renewed international cooperation and dialogue to tackle global trade issues and reform of the global trading system. Similar warnings have been made by other multilateral institutions and bring into sharp focus the importance of the stability of the multilateral trading system for the global economy in general, and for Caribbean small states, in particular, whose small open economies are susceptible to global economic shocks.

These systemic risks suggest that the WTO requires more than superficial tinkering, but comprehensive, inclusive and transparent reform. The challenge is making the WTO, an institution born in a different era and different economic landscape, “fit for purpose” for twenty-first century global trading realities, and in a way that caters to the unique needs of its smallest and most vulnerable members.

Why does WTO reform matter to Caribbean small States?

Caribbean small states, and small States in general, comprise only a tiny fraction of world trade, but their equitable integration into the global economy is essential for their economic survival. These States comprise primarily small island States, but also some small continental States. Compromised by limited bargaining power and inherent economic and other vulnerabilities, they depend on the certainty and predictability of the rules-based multilateral trading system not just to ensure that their traders face fair trading conditions in external markets, but that they could hold (at least in theory) larger states to account through the WTO’s dispute settlement body when they do not play by the rules.

It is of importance to Caribbean small States that updated trade rules for the twenty-first century not be made in negotiation theatres to which they are often not party (such as in Regional Trade Agreements and Mega-Regional Trade Agreements), but in the multilateral system where they have an equal seat at the table.

What proposals are on the table?

Thankfully, the silver lining to this story is that most WTO members have thus far expressed continued support for the multilateral trading system and have exhibited interest in WTO reform. The EU and Canada have both publicly shared their initial reform proposals and Canada held a meeting with thirteen other ‘like-minded’ governments in Ottawa to discuss WTO reform. The proposals have touched, for example, on decision and rule-making, improving the dispute settlement function and improving transparency and notification requirements.

In November 2018, the US, EU, Japan, Argentina and Costa Rica laid a proposal for tightening transparency and notification requirements under the WTO agreements. Among the recommendations were changes to the current Trade Policy Review mechanism, special consideration for developing countries and penalties for non-compliance by members.

Many of the proposals currently on the table have direct implications for Caribbean small States. For example, the EU and Canadian proposals evince growing appetite by the more advanced economies to change the current model of decision-making, that is, the consensus-based approach which requires absence of any formal objection to the decision. This approach has made the WTO one of the most democratic of the multilateral economic institutions. It allows small States to have bargaining power they otherwise would not have had and by mere numbers has led to a shift in the balance of bargaining power in favour of developing countries in the WTO. Though this approach has accounted for some of the stalemate, the wholesale move to a less democratic form of decision making would be disadvantageous to small States beset by limited negotiation might.

There are also calls for reforming the application of special and differential treatment (SDT) since currently any WTO member can self-designate as a developing country, entitling it to the flexibilities under the Agreements. This concern is due to the inclusion of large emerging economies such as China, India and Brazil in particular as developing countries. While not specifically supporting the creation of special categories, the EU concept paper notes the lack of nuance in the concept of a ‘developing country’. This is a good reason why small States should redouble their advocacy efforts for the translation of the Small Vulnerable Economy (SVE) informal group into a formal sub-category of developing countries.

What should we do?

The current crisis in the multilateral trading system has implications for Caribbean small states which rely on the certainty of the multilateral trading system and on the health of the global economy. It, however, also opens the door for our States to advocate for reforms as well. CARICOM countries have always played an active role in WTO negotiations, including pushing for the SVE grouping. For this reason, the COTED statement supporting the multilateral trading system and the WTO, and demanding a space for small States in the negotiations, was a good initial step.

The next step should entail formulating our own carefully considered responses to the proposals already on the table and advancing our own concrete proposals where we deem necessary. For instance, as noted before, given the dissatisfaction by advanced economies with the current carte blanche approach to SDT, this may be the opportune time to raise the reconsideration of making the SVE category a formal category. Additionally, as the on-going US-Antigua Gambling dispute shows, even though a small State may win a dispute, obtaining compliance is another matter. For this reason, dispute settlement reform is another area on which Caribbean small States should take particular interest.

Indeed, CARICOM governments will not have to depend solely on the vast knowledge and experience of their technocrats, but there are an increasing number of regional scholars and academic institutions, such as the University of the West Indies’ Shridath Ramphal Centre for International Trade Law, Policy & Services, which are pro-actively considering these issues, and whose technical expertise and research capacity could be drawn upon. There is also no need to reinvent the wheel given the growing corpus of literature, developed by the Commonwealth Secretariat for example, which has analysed the drawbacks of the WTO for small States and making proposals for reform. This work can be drawn upon in the formulation of our own proposals.

The Caribbean has a strong history of multilateral engagement within the WTO. The current situation gives us an appropriate moment to contribute to the comprehensive reform of the guardian of the multilateral trading system to ensure it remains fit for purpose for 21st century trading realities and for the global economy, and that it better serves its smallest and most vulnerable members. Caribbean small States can ill-afford to be perceived as backseat participants, but must be fully engaged and mobilized in this critical moment.

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 – November 13 – 17, 2018

Welcome to the Caribbean Trade & Development Digest for the week of November 13-17, 2018! We do apologise for the delay in this week’s Caribbean Trade and Development Digest, but 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

Last week was quite a busy week in trade policy news on the regional and international fronts! There was the announcement and release of the draft Brexit withdrawal agreement between the UK and EU. The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, ended with no joint statement amidst disagreement between the US and China. On the regional front, the CARICOM Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) held its 47th meeting and released a statement  in support of the WTO.

REGIONAL

COTED Statement on WTO

CARICOM: CARICOM Trade Ministers, meeting in Georgetown, Guyana, on 15 and 16 November 2018, at the Forty-Seventh Meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED), re-iterated the Caribbean Community’s support for the rules-based, multilateral trading system embodied in the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Read more 

Dubai-Caribbean non-oil trade hits $273 million in 2017

Khaleej Times: The value of non-oil trade between Dubai and Caribbean countries totalled $273 million in 2017, according to new data released by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry ahead of the first UAE-Caribbean Cooperation Forum in Dubai. Read more

St Lucia set to launch import substitution programme

St Lucia Times: The Ministry of Agriculture, with the support of the government of Taiwan, will next year begin implementing an import substitution programme for a range of crops in an effort to reduce Saint Lucia’s food import bill. Read more

Guyana, EU to sign pact on forest governance

Stabroek: After around six years of engagements, Guyana and the European Union (EU) are to sign an agreement that will bolster forest governance and address issues such as illegal logging. Read more 

China eyes US$10 trillion in imports from Latin America, Caribbean

Stabroek: The Government of the People’s Republic of China is looking to import some US$10 trillion in goods and services from Latin America and the Caribbean over the next five years, China’s Ambassador to Jamaica Tian Qi has disclosed. Read more 

Advancing Single Market and Economy pivotal to CARICOM’s future – LaRocque

Stabroek: If CARICOM is to safeguard the region’s interests in the global arena and achieve the objective of improving the lives of its citizens, its most important immediate task is to advance the implementation of the Single Market and Economy (CSME), Secretary General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque says. Read more 

INTERNATIONAL

APEC summit wraps with no joint statement amid US-China discord

CNN: For the first time in its 25-year history, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit ended Sunday with its leaders failing to agree on a formal joint statement.

All 21 APEC leaders at the annual meeting in Papua New Guinea were in agreement except China, a source within the meeting told CNN. Read more
European Commission welcomes agreement on foreign investment screening framework
EU: Today the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission reached a political agreement on an EU framework for screening foreign direct investment. Read more

Japan initiates WTO dispute complaint against Korean support for shipbuilders

WTO: Japan has requested WTO dispute consultations with Korea concerning alleged subsidies provided by the Korean government to its shipbuilding industry. Japan’s request was circulated to WTO members on 13 November. Read more

WTO Members Prepare to Shift Gears in Fisheries Negotiations

ICTSD: WTO members negotiating a proposed agreement to tackle harmful fisheries subsidies held a second cluster of meetings last week as part of their September-December work programme, hearing reports about brainstorming sessions in “incubator groups” the week before and completing the streamlining of a document consolidating all existing proposals.  Read more 

Kenya Eyes High Table Seat At Inaugural Intra-Africa Trade Talks

AllAfrica: Kenya is keen to play a lead role in steering intra-Africa trade as the continent meet for the Inaugural Intra-Africa Trade Fair (IATF) in Cairo, Egypt, next month. Read more

May sticks to Brexit deal as opponents seek formal challenge

Reuters: British Prime Minister Theresa May vowed on Monday to stick to her draft European Union divorce deal as dissenting lawmakers in her own party tried to trigger a leadership challenge. Read more 

Vice president Pence pushes Japan for free trade agreement

Reuters:  U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, keeping up pressure on Japan to cut its trade surplus with the United States, said on Tuesday American goods and services too often faced barriers in Japan and a bilateral trade agreement offered the best way forward. Read more 

Singapore, China sign several agreements, including free trade agreement upgrade

ChannelNewsAsia: China and Singapore have signed a slew of agreements, including the upgrade of a bilateral free trade pact, which will allow greater market access for Singapore companies. Read more

China, Spain, Latin America: A New Growth Axis in Global Trade

World Crunch: Spain, an industralized EU member with close ties to Latin America, could profit from easing the entry of Chinese firms keen to invest in and export to the Americas. Read more

How news media can boost China-Latin America relations

Xinhua: There’s no doubt of the news media’s impact across borders and in fostering relations between countries and entire regions. Nowhere is this more true than in the relationship between China and Latin American and the Caribbean (LAC). Read more 

WTO working more closely with UK on Brexit

RTE: A senior World Trade Organization (WTO) representative has said the body is watching Brexit negotiations between the European Union and the UK “very closely”. Read more 

Trump’s protectionism might just save the WTO

The Washington Post: President Trump is right that the World Trade Organization badly needs reform.Keeping the United States within the WTO should obviously be Plan A. But it would be prudent for other members to start thinking about devising a new international trade organization minus the United States in order to avoid the “my way or the highway” blackmail that has become the American president’s signature negotiating style. Read more 

WTO members adopt roadmap for reducing technical barriers to trade

WTO: WTO members achieved a breakthrough at a 14-15 November meeting of the Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) by agreeing on a list of recommendations that aim at reducing obstacles to trade and improving implementation of the WTO’s TBT Agreement.  Read more 

Launch of WTO Data Portal

WTO: The WTO launched on Friday 16th November its new online database. The WTO Data portal brings together a wide range of statistical indicators on international trade and other WTO-related information. Read more 

US-China Discord Dominates APEC Summit

Jakarta Globe: The United States and China swapped barbs over trade, investment and regional security at an Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation, or Apec, summit on Saturday, as growing fault lines among members suggested little prospect of consensus at the weekend meeting. Read more 

India to adopt new approach toward free trade agreements

Japan Times: India is planning to adopt a new strategy toward negotiating free trade agreements even as the country is engaged in talks with members of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, the proposed ASEAN-focused regional free trade area. Read more 

Egypt, Eurasian Union to start negotiating free trade agreement

Egypt Today: Egypt and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) signed a framework document for negotiations on the free trade agreement between the two sides, as they both decided to hold the first tournament of negotiations in mid- January in Cairo. Read more 

India, Mauritius likely to sign free trade pact in January

Hindu Business Line: The proposed India-Mauritius free trade agreement,being given the final touches by negotiators this week, is likely to be signed in January during Mauritius PM Pravind Kumar Jugnauth’s India visit, a government official has said. Read more 

The Caribbean Trade & Development Digest is a weekly trade news digest published by the Caribbean Trade Law & Development Blog. Liked this issue? To read past issues, please visit here. To receive these mailings directly to your inbox, please follow our blog.

Caribbean Trade & Development Digest – November 4-12, 2018

Welcome to the Caribbean Trade & Development Digest for the week of November 4-12, 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.

REGIONAL

CARICOM finalising trade arrangements post- Brexit

RJR News: Minister of  Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Kamina Johnson Smith, says the technical work for the rollover of  the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) into a new CARIFORUM-United Kingdom trade arrangement post-Brexit is close to being finalised. Read more

CARICOM trade ministers meet next week; officials begin preparatory work

Caribbean News Now: Caribbean Community (CARICOM) trade officials on Wednesday began preparations for the 47th meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED), which will be held in Georgetown, Guyana, November 15-16. The two-day preparatory meeting is being held at the CARICOM Secretariat. Read more

INTERNATIONAL

Trump’s trade war could dent China’s domestic consumption, dragging down the rest of Asia

CNBC: Asian countries’ exports are potentially vulnerable to the U.S.-China trade war on two fronts: changes to global supply chains and slowing Chinese domestic demand. Read more

Don’t expect quick end to U.S.-China trade war, top White House official warns

Washington Post: Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro said Friday that “trust issues” with China are responsible for the lack of progress in trade negotiations, tamping down hope for progress in resolving the trade war when President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping meet later this month at the G-20 summit in Argentina. Read more

Trump’s trade war may have helped the Democrats win the House

Washington Post: Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District, which runs along the U.S.-Canada border, has one of the highest concentrations of iron miners in the country. Republicans took it from Democrats in Tuesday’s midterm election amid a surge in the industry propelled in part by President Trump’s tariffs on China. Read more

Commission reports on latest negotiating rounds with Indonesia and New Zealand

EU: The Commission today published two reports summarising the progress made during the latest negotiating rounds for the EU-Indonesia and EU-New Zealand trade agreements. Read more

Aid for Trade monitoring exercise to review economic diversification and empowerment

WTO: The Aid for Trade monitoring and evaluation exercise was launched at a meeting of the WTO Committee on Trade and Development on 6 November 2018. WTO members and Aid for Trade partners may submit self-assessment questionnaires up to 31 December 2018 to assist preparations for the 2019 Aid for Trade Global Review. Read more

DG Azevêdo and Premier Li Keqiang discuss how to safeguard the WTO

WTO: Director-General Roberto Azevêdo visited Beijing, China, on 6 November to participate in the “1+6” roundtable meeting hosted by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, together with five other heads of major international economic organizations and financial institutions (the IMF, World Bank, ILO, OECD and the Financial Stability Board). Read more

WTO issues panel report on Indian safeguard duties on steel products

WTO: On 6 November the WTO circulated the panel report in the case brought by Japan in “India — Certain Measures on Imports of Iron and Steel Products” (DS518). Read more 

Registration opens for screening of “US — Softwood Lumber Pricing Methodology” second hearing

WTO: At the request of the parties in the dispute “US — Anti-Dumping Measures Applying Differential Pricing Methodology to Softwood Lumber from Canada” (DS534), the panel has decided to open its second substantive meeting to public observation on 4 December 2018 (and on 5 December, if necessary). The live screening will take place at the WTO’s headquarters in Geneva. Read more

IP seminar addresses how technological changes have transformed trade and knowledge flows

WTO: Government officials from 29 developing and least developed countries and 13 Geneva-based delegates from around the world took part in the Seminar on Intellectual Property and Knowledge Flows in a Digital Era, which took place at the WTO on 5-6 November 2018. Read more 

The Caribbean Trade & Development Digest is a weekly trade news digest published by the Caribbean Trade Law & Development Blog. Liked this issue? To read past issues, please visit here. To receive these mailings directly to your inbox, please follow our blog.

Caribbean Trade & Development Digest – October 28 – November 3, 2018

Welcome to the Caribbean Trade & Development Digest for the week of October 28-November 3, 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

Caribbean trade officials and experts met in Guyana this week to discuss emerging trade issues, while Barbados hosted Africa, Caribbean, Pacific (ACP) private sector consultations.  On the Brexit front, business leaders in the UK are calling for a new EU referendum. The EU is reportedly revising its WTO reform proposals released in September in order to gain US support.

Please have a read of the week’s other headlines below:

REGIONAL

What’s at stake as EU, Africa, Caribbean, Pacific, negotiate new accord

Devex: After years of preparation and posturing, negotiations on the new relationship between the European Union and 79 African, Caribbean, and Pacific states are finally underway. Read more 

OECD support on economic citizenship programmes unreasonable, says OECS

Caribbean News Now: The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Authority, the highest decision-making body of the nine-member sub-regional bloc, has responded to the recent Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) report that listed five of its members for tax evasion concerns with regard their citizenship by investment (CBI) programmes. Read more 

OECS to establish a diplomatic presence in Africa

Searchlight: Eastern Caribbean States will soon have a strong diplomatic presence on the world’s second largest continent, Africa. This decision was made on Tuesday, during the 66th meeting of the OECS Authority, which took place in St Vincent and the Grenadines at Beachcombers Hotel. Read more 

OECS to hold Blue Economy Seminars in Member States

St Lucia Online: Transitioning to a Blue Economy is critical to ensuring continued economic growth in the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), given that the marine space of small island states is significantly larger than their land mass and clearly a substantial asset. Read more 

TCI needs UK letter of approval to start APIS with CARICOM

Magnetic Media: The United Kingdom has to give the Turks and Caicos permission to continue on its path to having APIS or the Advanced Passenger Information System with its country partners in CARICOM. Read more 

Caribbean countries discuss global trade challenges

Commonwealth: Caribbean countries of the Commonwealth met in Georgetown, Guyana this week to deliberate on how to respond to major shifts in the global trade landscape. Read more 

Guyana trade mission jets into Aberdeen

Energy Voice: A trade mission from Guyana will visit Aberdeen later this month to foster business links with north-east oil and gas companies. Read more 

Guyana/China MOU signals “unfettered” partnership in every possible area

Kaieteur News: Finally, the APNU+AFC Government has released the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge, signed with China to facilitate the infamous Belt and Road Initiative. The MOU was signed on July 27, last. Read more 

CARICOM countries join call for US to lift embargo against Cuba

RJR: Two days after the House of Representatives in Jamaica approved a resolution calling for the lifting of the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed on Cuba by the US, other CARICOM countries have taken a similar stance. Read more 

INTERNATIONAL

Vietnam is winning the US-China trade war

Foreign Policy: The facts on the ground are clear; Vietnam, once dependent on garments and other cheap exports, has begun to rival China’s tech sector. And with Asian businesspeople increasingly resigned to a protracted trade war between Washington and Beijing, firms are more eager than ever to escape tariffs by relocating to China’s smaller southern neighbor. Read more

Pacific-Rim trade deal to kick in December

CBC (Canada): U.S. President Donald Trump tried to kill it, but the Trans-Pacific Partnership wouldn’t stay dead. Less than two years after the U.S. withdrew from the landmark Pacific Rim trade deal it once saw as key to an Asian trade strategy, six of the remaining countries have ratified it. Read more 

Future economy minister says Mercosur is not a priority for Bolsonaro

Mercopress: Mercosur is not a priority, and Argentina is not a priority for the new government of Brazil, the priority is to trade with all the world. The strong statement came from Paulo Guedes, signaled as the next Finance minister of president elect Jair Bolsonaro’s cabinet and a crucial player in that team since the newly elected leader has admitted a limited knowledge of economics. Read more 

US attacks UK plan for digital services tax on tech giants 

BBC: The US has hit back against a UK plan to impose a new tax on sales by technology giants. Read more

US, China ‘not on the cusp of’ trade deal: White House advisor

Reuters: The United States and China are not close to a deal to resolve their trade differences, the White House’s top economic adviser said on Friday, adding that he was less optimistic than previously that such an agreement would come together. Read more

USTR to hold hearing in December over trade talks with Japan

Japan Times: The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative will hold a hearing on Dec. 10 regarding bilateral trade negotiations with Japan that Washington plans to launch in mid-January, according to the Federal Register. Read more

Trump vows close ties with Brazil’s Bolsonaro on trade, military

Reuters: The United States will work closely with Brazil on trade and military issues following Jair Bolsonaro’s presidential election victory, U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday. Read more 

Alibaba launched Africa’s first electronic trade platform

Africa News: Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba on Wednesday launched Africa’s first Electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP) at a special ceremony in Kigali, Rwanda. Read more 

Critics of EU-Mercosur deal name conditions for support

Swissinfo.ch: A coalition of Swiss farming organisations, consumers and NGOs says it is in favour of a free trade agreement between Switzerland and the four Mercosur countries: Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay. But it is demanding binding criteria concerning sustainability.  Read more 

Continental free trade agreement bodes well for future of trade policy across Africa

Business Day: On March 21 2018, 44 African countries signed the African Union’s continental free trade agreement (Acfta). The AU aims to use the agreement as a conduit for the creation of a single market and customs union on the continent, akin to the trade blocs established by the EU. Read more 

EU-Africa trade will only blossom when all are treated as equals

The East African: China’s use of trade and investment links to expand its influence in Africa is fuelling growing concern in some European capitals. But, instead of complaining about China’s activities, the European Union should be deepening its own engagement with the continent. Read more 

Nigeria is set to host Africa Trade Forum 2018

African Review: The Africa Trade Forum 2018, set to take place on 2-3 November 2018 in Lagos, will discuss the process for realising the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). Read more 

Dairy farmers ‘very disappointed’ with USMCA

South Western Ontario:  Very disappointing was how Dairy Farmers of Ontario spokesperson Ralph Dietrich described the pending United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement. Read more 

Commonwealth concerned at technological gap in trade

St. Lucia Online: A senior official of the London-based Commonwealth Secretariat says efforts are being made to bridge the technological gap in trade. Read more

RP-US bilateral trade agreement

Manila Standard: As the Philippines is about to renew its bilateral trade agreement with the US, President Duterte has expressed concern that concluding a free trade agreement with the US might jeopardize our bilateral relations with China and with the Asean where we currently enjoy robust trade relations. Read more 

India, China to undertake joint research on WTO reforms

Economic Times: India and China Thursday agreed to undertake joint research in the areas of WTO reforms, urbanisation and frontier technologies with a view to enhancing economic cooperation between the countries, an official statement said. Read more

Report: EU trade agreements deliver on growth and jobs, support sustainable development

EU: According to the second annual report about the implementation of trade agreements issued today, these agreements – covering nearly 70 markets all over the world – are proving effective in removing barriers to trade and promoting high standards of labour and environment protection. Read more 

Brexit: Relations ‘fraying’ between Britain and Ireland

BBC: The Irish prime minister says Brexit is fraying relations between Ireland and Britain. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said it had also “undermined” the Good Friday Agreement (GFA). Read more 

Brexit: Business leaders call for new EU referendum

BBC: More than 70 business leaders have signed a letter to the Sunday Times calling for a public vote on the UK’s Brexit deal. Read more 

Minister Pato signs ACP administrative cooperative agreement

ACP Secretariat: Papua New Guinea has taken steps to strengthen and deepen its Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the EU and other ACP states that have similar trading arrangements. Read more 

EU Revises Plan to Fix WTO in Bid to Get U.S. on Board

Bloomberg: The European Union is revamping its plan to reform the World Trade Organization in an effort to win support from the U.S., according to two people briefed on the process. Read more 

Women-supporting trade policies need better data, experts say

UNCTAD: The idea that governments around the world must support women as traders, workers and entrepreneurs to drive international commerce has been recognized in several multilateral agendas in recent years, but experts say that a data gap needs to be filled before the most effective policies can be designed. Read more 

WTO members discuss implementation of the Information Technology Agreement

WTO: Implementation issues concerning India and China were flagged once more at the Committee meeting. WTO members raised concerns about the import duties that India has introduced on mobile phones and their parts, which members consider to be covered by the ITA. Read more

Panels established to examine Pakistani duties on film, Korean duties on steel

WTO: At a meeting of the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) on 29 October, WTO members agreed to a request from the United Arab Emirates for the establishment of a panel to examine anti-dumping duties imposed by Pakistan on biaxially oriented polypropylene from the UAE as well as a request from Japan for a panel to examine anti-dumping duties imposed on stainless steel bar from Japan. Read more

White House officials are pushing back on the idea that a trade deal with China is imminent

CNBC: For a brief moment Friday, there was optimism in the market that the Trump administration was getting closer to a trade deal with China. But administration officials are telling CNBC that there is no indication of an imminent agreement. Read more 

RCEP nations unlikely to reach agreement this year

Japan Times: The 16 mostly Asian countries negotiating what will be the world’s largest free trade area might not be able to achieve their target of a substantive deal by the year’s end, an official source familiar with the talks has said. Read more

Philippines, Japan eye inclusion of e-commerce

Business Inquirer: Japan might include e-commerce under its free trade deal with the Philippines as both sides review the merits of the nearly decade-old agreement. Read more

NEW ON CTLD BLOG

Jamaica remains easiest place in CARICOM to do business, according to World Bank Doing Business Report 2019

Could Promoting Bilingualism Give Caribbean Countries a Trade and Investment Advantage?

The Caribbean Trade & Development Digest is a weekly trade news digest published by the Caribbean Trade Law & Development Blog. Liked this issue? To read past issues, please visit here. To receive these mailings directly to your inbox, please follow our blog.