Caribbean Trade & Development Digest – February 10-16, 2019

Welcome to the Caribbean Trade & Development Digest for the week of February 10-16, 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

Nine countries, including the US, Russia and the EU, approved an international agreement banning commercial vessels from fishing in the Arctic Sea for sixteen years in an effort to preserve the environment of the Arctic Sea.

The US-China trade talks continued this week. Meanwhile, US President Trump may possibly be considering an extension to the 90-day truce agreed by the two behemoths in December 2018, which is supposed to end March 1.

With Brexit only a month or so away,  UK Prime Minister Theresa May suffered yet another defeat in parliament when MPs voted 303 to 258 against endorsing her government’s Brexit negotiating strategy. While not binding, it is a further sign of declining confidence in the May Government’s handling of Brexit.

Turning regionally, IMF Deputy Managing Director Tao Zhang gave a speech in Grenada entitled “Building Resilience to Natural Disasters and Climate Change in Grenada and the Caribbean”. Have a read here.

REGIONAL

T&T Ministry working with USDA to stop inferior chicken imports

LoopTT: Government is now working with the US Department of Agriculture to stop the importation old, inferior chicken into Trinidad and Tobago, after reports that old, substandard chicken was being sold locally.  Read more 

Guyana: No foreign exchange shortage but fewer US notes in circulation

Demerara Waves: The Governor of the Bank of Guyana, Dr. Gobin Ganga, has assured that there is no shortage of foreign currency to transact international business such as wire transfers, but there are fewer United States (US) notes circulating at cambios and commercial banks partly because the increasing number of foreign workers are buying up the bills. Read more

Republic of China (Taiwan) donates to trade development in Belize

LoveFM: The Republic of China (Taiwan) is one of the country’s staunch allies that continues to contribute to Belize’s development. Their latest contribution comes in the form of sixty thousand US dollars earmarked for trade development. Read more 

BNSI proposes introduction of front-of-pack labelling standard 

Barbados Advocate: The Barbados National Standards Institution (BNSI) hosted a national consultation recently to get feedback from consumers on a new, compulsory standard they sought to introduce. Fabian Scott, Chief Technical Officer at the BNSI, explained that they were seeking to update the current requirements for the food labelling standard. Read more 

Jamaica Government to Leverage New Opportunities in Partner Countries to Support Trade

JIS: The Government, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, will work assiduously to leverage new opportunities in both traditional and non-traditional partner countries to support trade, investment and technical cooperation pursuits. Read more 

Caribbean tourism on the upswing

CTO: The Caribbean tourism sector is projected to record strong growth in 2019 on the heels of a stronger-than-expected performance last year. Read more 

Major oil find excites southern Caribbean

Amsterdam News: U.S. supermajor ExxonMobil announced two major oil finds offshore Guyana in the past week, and the discovery has raised the hopes for similar massive oil discoveries in two of its neighbors that incidentally already produce oil and gas. Read more 

Spotlight on Statistics Strategy – PM Mitchell to address High Level Forum in Grenada next week

CARICOM: A High Level Advocacy Forum on Statistics will be held next week as the Region continues to place more emphasis on the production and use of quality statistics. Read more

Youth Bridge Gap Between Climate Change, Climate Awareness in Guyana

CARICOM: A group of youngsters in the Caribbean who promote environmental protection in the region is on a drive to empower other youth to address some of the big issues facing their generation. Read more 

Guyanese American Chamber of Commerce Recommends Extension of CBERA

South Florida Morning News: The Guyanese American Chamber of Commerce (GCAA) wishes to draw to the attention of the  business community in the United States and Guyana the fact that the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act (CBERA) will expire on September 30, 2020 and to urge the private sector at home and in the US, as well as the Government of Guyana in collaboration with its CARICOM partners to embark on efforts to ensure that this Act is extended by the US Congress for at least another 10 years. Read more

Guyana denies shipping ‘bad’ rice to Jamaica

TV6 T&T: Guyana says it has not shipped any rice to Jamaica under the “Cinderella” brand for the year after media reports in Kingston said that 70 metric tonnes of White Cinderella rice, had been confiscated by Jamaican authorities. Read more

Jamaica confiscates 70 tonnes of Guyanese rice

Demerara Waves: The Food Storage and Prevention of Infestation Division (FSPID), in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries (MICAF) says it has confiscated 70 metric tonnes (1,575 bags) of White Cinderella rice from Guyana due to high microbial content. Read more

INTERNATIONAL

US, Canada accuse India of underreporting support for lentils, chickpeas; approach WTO 

Economic Times: The United States and Canada have moved the World Trade Organization (WTO) accusing India of underreporting its market price support for five pulses. Read more 

Tariffs Take Toll On American Whisky Exports

Jamaica Gleaner: Retaliatory tariffs caused a sharp downturn in American whisky exports in the last half of 2018 as distillers started feeling the pain from global trade disputes, an industry trade group said Tuesday. Read more 

German discounters’ banana tactics irk Ecuador

Deutsche Welle: Ecuador is the world’s largest exporter of bananas. The fruit plays just as big a role as oil for the country’s economy and its fight against poverty. Some German discounters seem to care little about that. Read more 

Indian Commerce ministry to notify WTO regarding revoking MFN status to Pakistan

Economic Times: The commerce ministry would soon notify to the World Trade Organization (WTO) its decision to revoke the most-favoured nation (MFN) status to Pakistan on security grounds, an official said Friday. Read more 

Record EU Trade Surplus With U.S. Could Put Trump Truce at Risk

Bloomberg: The European Union’s trade surplus with the the U.S. jumped 17 percent last year to the highest on record, potentially putting at risk ongoing negotiations just as President Donald Trump is gearing up to decide whether to hit the 28-nation bloc with a new set of tariffs. Read more

European Commission welcomes European Parliament’s support for investment screening framework

EU: Following today’s vote, the EU is one step closer to putting in place a Europe-wide framework for screening foreign direct investment. Read more 

Commission puts in place duties on subsidised biodiesel from Argentina

EU: Today, the Commission imposed definitive anti-subsidy measures on imports of biodiesel from Argentina. In parallel, the Commission adopted a decision accepting sustainable price commitments (known as undertakings) from eight Argentine producers and the Argentinian Chamber of Biofuels (CARBIO) that will exempt the exporting producers from the duties within an agreed import limit. Read more 

Israel, Iran to join Russian-led free trade agreement

JNS: However, the two nations will sign their own free-trade accord with the bloc, meaning the adversaries could not trade freely with one another. Read more 

U.S. drafts WTO reform to halt handouts for big and rich states

Reuters: The United States proposed a reform of the World Trade Organization on Friday that would slash the number of countries that are eligible for “special and differential treatment”, a plan likely to be resisted by China, India and other countries. Read more 

New treaty bans commercial fishing in the Arctic for 16 years

Euractiv: The European Union and nine other countries, including the US and Russia, approved an international agreement on Thursday (14 February) that will prohibit commercial vessels from fishing in the Arctic in order to preserve the region’s fragile ecosystem. Read more 

The EU’s Dirty Money Blacklist: North Korea, Syria, and… Puerto Rico?

Foreign Policy: The U.S. Treasury Department scolded the European Union for including U.S. territories on a list of dirty money hotspots around the world, telling American banks to ignore EU directives in an unusual technocratic spat that highlights continued friction between Washington and Brussels. Read more 

New Caledonia and Vanuatu sign free trade agreement

Radio New Zealand: The leaders of New Caledonia and Vanuatu have signed an agreement to free up trade for a range of products. It will apply to about 50 products, with Vanuatu being able to export agricultural products including coffee without duties or quantity restrictions. Read more 

No-deal Brexit: UK exporters risk being locked out of world’s harbours

The Guardian: British exporters sending goods to far-flung destinations in the coming days risk being locked out of harbours around the world as a no-deal Brexit looms, business leaders have warned. Read more 

US-China trade talks break up without a deal

BBC: Trade talks between the US and China have broken up without a deal, with the US warning that “very difficult issues” remain unresolved. The talks in China this week were aimed at securing a new deal before further US tariffs are imposed on 1 March. Read more

Australia-Indonesia free trade agreement to be signed before election

Australian Financial Review: The on again, off again free trade deal between Australia and Indonesia has been salvaged after both governments said it would be signed in March, before both nations hold their federal elections. Read more 

EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement Signed

ASEAN Briefing: On February 13, 2019, the European Parliament approved the EUSFTA by a majority vote. The stage is now set for the final ratification and entry into force of the trade pact between the two jurisdictions. Read more 

USMCA Coalition Formed during 116th Congress 

Global Trade Magazine: In an effort to support fastidious implementation of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, a group consisting of trade associations, businesses, and other advocacy groups joined forces to create what is now known as the “Pass USMCA Coalition.” Read more

Canada won’t ratify new NAFTA until steel and aluminum tariffs lifted, warns key U.S. Senator

Financial Post: Canada and Mexico won’t consider ratifying the revised North American Free Trade Agreement unless the United States lifts its tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley said Tuesday. Read more

WTO’s Potential Game-Changer: Global E-Commerce Rules? – Analysis

Eurasia Review: The recently launched WTO negotiations on e-commerce seeks to establish a new rulebook for e-commerce trade, and could be a potential game-changer for the global economy. Read more

Traditional Knowledge, Cheaper Drugs on India’s Agenda for the WTO

The Economic Times: India wants the World Trade Organization (WTO) to address issues related to exploitation of traditional knowledge, food security and access to affordable medicine going ahead. Read more 

WTO NEWS

DG Azevêdo in Mozambique: the trading system must support LDCs

WTO: Director-General Roberto Azevêdo was in Maputo, Mozambique, today (14 February), where he met President Filipe Nyusi. They discussed how to strengthen global trade cooperation for the future, through the WTO, so it can keep supporting the integration of Mozambique and other least developed countries (LDCs) into the global economy. Read more

Members discuss progress and assistance on Trade Facilitation Agreement’s 2nd year

WTO: WTO members took stock of progress in implementing the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) at the 12-13 February meeting of the Committee on Trade Facilitation a week before the second anniversary of the Agreement’s entry into force. Members called for the timely fulfilment of commitments and discussed efforts to help each other carry out the Agreement. Read more

CLTD BLOG NEWS

Have a read of my latest article with Dr. Jan Yves Remy, Deputy Director of the University of the West Indies’ Shridath Ramphal Centre for International Trade Law, Policy & Services entitled “Can CARICOM Countries Afford to Miss the WTO E-Commerce Train”? published here.

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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