Welcome to the Caribbean Trade & Development Digest for the week of January 13-19, 2019! 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

Brexit turbulence has dominated the headlines for yet another week. British MPs, as expected, voted against the current Withdrawal Agreement negotiated by Prime Minister Theresa May’s government with the EU. With 432 votes against, versus just 202 in favour of the deal, it was the biggest legislative loss for a British Government in modern British history. Coupled with narrowly surviving a no confidence motion brought by the Leader of the main opposition, Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn, Prime Minister May now has three days  (until Monday) to bring a ‘Brexit Plan B’ to Parliament.

On January 19, 2018, the eleven parties to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) held their first ministerial meeting since its entry into force on December 30, 2018, in Japan this week.

Below are the other major trade and development headlines from across the Caribbean region and the world for last week:

REGIONAL

Trump weighs dramatic tightening of embargo on Cuba

Associated Press: The Trump administration is weighing what could become the most serious tightening of the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba in more than two decades — a move that could unleash a flurry of lawsuits against foreign companies that have invested on the island. Read more 

Shaw wants more aggressive approach to trade facilitation programme

Jamaica Observer: Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Audley Shaw has called on Government agencies and departments to move with a greater sense of urgency to facilitate trade and the private sector’s need for a more responsive Government. Read more

Cuba, Iran to improve trade relations

Prensa Latina: The 17th Session of the Cuba-Iran Intergovernmental Commission, whose main goal is to expand collaboration on various economic and social areas, has concluded on Wednesday in Havana. Read more 

Antigua & Barbuda hit visitor arrival record 

Caribbean360: Antigua and Barbuda welcomed over one million visitors to the destination in 2018, topping 2017 figures and leading Antigua and Barbuda Minister of Tourism Charles Fernandez to call 2018, “a record-setting year” for the twin-island nation. Read more

Correspondent banking still an issue for CARICOM

Love FM (Belize): Plaguing Belize and other Caribbean countries is the issue of correspondent banking, CARICOM along with groups have been lobbying for restored relations. Read more

Jamaica says buy-back of Petrojam shares not a CARICOM issue

Jamaica Observer: Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Senator Kamina Johnson Smith has dismissed Opposition criticisms that the Government has not involved the Caribbean Community (Caricom) in its negotiation of a buy-back of the 49 per cent shares in Petrojam from Venezuela. Read more 

Gopee-Scoon: TT preparing for Brexit

Newsday: Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon on Wednesday said TT was doing what it could to deal with the outcome of the Brexit process in the UK. Read more

PM: OAS vote on Venezuela was in Trinidad’s interest

Newsday: The Prime Minister says the decision to abstain on a vote by the Organisation of American States to not recognise the legitimacy of the presidency of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was done in the country’s interest. Read more 

Trinidad & Tobago Rice production plummets 97%

Newsday: LOCAL rice production has plummeted about 97 per cent in the past 26 years and 95 per cent of what is currently produced is used as input for animal feed. Read more

Jamaica exports grew 17.6% in Q1 2018

Jamaica Gleaner: Exports of Jamaica increased 17.6 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2018, according to an Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) report which said that sales from Latin America and the Caribbean to overseas markets were the highest in six years. Read more

Arley Gill to be Grenada’s new ambassador to CARICOM

Now Grenada: Arley Gill is nominated to be Grenada’s new ambassador to CARICOM. Read more

IDB: Latin America, Caribbean register highest exports in six years 

Jamaica Gleaner: The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) says exports from Latin America and the Caribbean, including Jamaica, hit their highest level in six years as a result of a 9.9 per cent increase in 2018, albeit amid growing downside risks in the future. Read more 

INTERNATIONAL

These are the biggest risks to the global economy in 2019

World Economic Forum: Major risks include a growth recession in China, a rise in global long-term real interest rates, and a crescendo of populist economic policies that undermine the credibility of central bank independence, resulting in higher interest rates on safe, advanced-country government bonds. Read more 

Expansion of Pacific trade deal discussed at ministerial meeting in Tokyo

Japan Times: The 11 members of a trans-Pacific free trade agreement on Saturday held their first ministerial meeting since the pact entered into force, discussing its future expansion as well as how to counter the rise of protectionism. Read more 

China Offers a Path to Eliminate U.S. Trade Imbalance, Sources Say

Bloomberg: China has offered to go on a six-year buying spree to ramp up imports from the U.S., in a move that would reconfigure the relationship between the world’s two largest economies, according to officials familiar with the negotiations. Read more 

Malaysia hopes for RCEP to finalise by end-2019

New Strait Times: Malaysia hopes to conclude talks with other Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) member countries by the end of this year. Read more 

CPTPP members signal intent to expand the agreement

Strait Times: Members of a landmark 11-nation Pacific Rim trade deal have signalled their openness to expand the agreement by taking in new members to form a stronger united front against the rise of protectionism. Read more 

Climate change clouds Australia’s Pacific charm offensive 

ABS-CBN: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s Pacific charm offensive went off course on Friday when he was forced to defend Fiji’s accusations of inaction over climate change.  Read more

India keen on closer trade ties with neighbours

Daily Star: India is keenly promoting the trade potential of its northeastern states because it would not only give an economic boost to the region but also enable closer engagement with Bangladesh, Myanmar and Bhutan. Read more

Can ASEAN cope with the trade war?

Strait Times: Asean is facing a prolonged period of heightened United States-China competition and, hence, of greater uncertainty. The most obvious manifestation of this new phase in relations between the two nations is the so-called “trade war”. Read more

Trudeau’s U.S. Envoy Confident on USMCA Passage, Tariff Relief

Bloomberg: Canada’s ambassador to Washington is confident that the U.S. will both pass the revised North American trade deal and lift tariffs on steel and aluminum. Read more 

New trade agreements secure Australian exports to Britain post-Brexit

Sydney Morning Herald: Australia and Britain have signed a new bilateral Wine Agreement and Mutual Recognition Agreement overnight in London, which will help ensure the continued flow of trade post-Brexit. Read more 

Lifting trade barriers key to Africa’s economic emergence, DP World chairman says

The National: DP World’s chairman urged African leaders to lift barriers on trade after the global ports operator last year pushed to expand its footprint in the continent where it faces some opposition to its operations. Read more 

AfCFTA seeks to increase intra-Africa trade

KBC (Kenya): African states are nearing the threshold of 22 countries to help operationalise the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). Read more 

Vietnam-Africa trade reaches US$6.6 million in 2018

Nhan Dan Online: Bilateral trade between Vietnam and African nations hit US$6.6 billion in 2018, with Vietnam’s exports worth US$3 billion, up 10% from the previous year. Read more 

Voters would back remaining in EU over May’s Brexit deal

The Guardian: Opinium poll for the Observer finds only 35% of voters would back Theresa May’s deal if remain was an option. Read more 

Brexit; Theresa May’s deal is voted down in historic defeat 

BBC: Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal has been rejected by 230 votes – the largest defeat for a sitting government in history. MPs voted by 432 votes to 202 to reject the deal, which sets out the terms of Britain’s exit from the EU on 29 March. Read more

Theresa May survives vote, Britain remains in Brexit deadlock

The Guardian: Theresa May has survived as prime minister after weathering a dramatic no-confidence vote in her government, but was left scrambling to strike a Brexit compromise that could secure the backing of parliament. Read more 

May scrambles to agree plan B for Brexit ahead of deadline

Sky News: The PM will meet with cabinet ministers at her Chequers retreat but has until Monday to come up with a new plan for Brexit. Read more

Amazon warns UK sellers to prepare for no-deal Brexit disruption to deliveries

Independent: Amazon has warned UK businesses trading through its online marketplace to prepare for a no-deal Brexit or risk not being able to sell to customers in the EU. Read more 

Brexit: Liam Fox yet to seal no-deal trade agreements

BBC: The UK has yet to finalise agreements to replace existing free trade deals the EU has with 40 big economies if there is a no-deal Brexit. Read more 

The EU moves forward efforts at UN on multilateral reform of ISDS

EU: Today, the EU and its Member States submitted two papers to the UN Working Group under the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL). The Working Group has been tasked with examining reform of investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS). Read more 

EU-US Trade Talks: European Commission presents draft negotiating mandates

EU: The European Commission has today adopted proposals for negotiating directives for its trade talks with the United States: one on conformity assessment, and one on the elimination of tariffs for industrial goods. Read more 

EU imposes safeguard measures on rice from Cambodia and Myanmar

EU: An investigation has confirmed a significant increase of imports of Indica rice from Cambodia and Myanmar into the European Union that has caused economic damage to European producers. The European Commission has therefore decided today to re-introduce import duties that will be steadily reduced over a period of three years. Read more

EU Chief Negotiator updates civil society on the state of play of negotiations with Mercosur

EU: On Tuesday 15 January the European Commission held a meeting with civil society representatives on the state of play of trade negotiations between the EU and Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay). Read more 

EU requests bilateral dispute settlement consultations with Ukraine over wood export ban

EU: The EU has formally requested consultations with Ukraine under the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement on Ukraine’s export ban on unprocessed wood. Read more 

European Commission set to adopt definitive safeguard measures on imports of steel

EU: The European Commission welcomes the support received yesterday from Member States to its plan to impose definitive safeguard measures on imports of steel. Read more 

WTO NEWS 

General Council Chair appoints facilitator to address disagreement on Appellate Body

WTO: General Council Chair Junichi Ihara of Japan has appointed Amb. David Walker of New Zealand to assist him in working with WTO members to resolve differences on the urgent matter of the functioning of the organization’s Appellate Body. Read more

Venezuela initiates WTO dispute case against Colombia regarding liquid fuel restrictions

WTO: Venezuela has requested WTO dispute consultations with Colombia regarding certain Colombian measures affecting the distribution of liquid fuels. Venezuela’s request was circulated to WTO members on 14 January. Read more 

Members review US request for panel on Turkish duties, adopt rulings on Brazil tax, US tuna

WTO: At a meeting of the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) on 11 January, WTO members considered a request from the United States for the establishment of a panel to rule on additional duties levied by Turkey on certain US imports. WTO members also formally adopted panel and Appellate Body rulings concerning tax measures in Brazil used to promote domestic production of automotive and high-tech goods as well as revised US “dolphin-safe” tuna labelling requirements. 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.

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