Welcome to the Caribbean Trade & Development Digest for the week of March 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 HEADLINES

With just two weeks to go before Brexit Day (March 29, 2019), the UK House of Commons has for the second time rejected the Draft Withdrawal Agreement negotiated by Prime Minister Theresa May’s government with the European Union (EU), this time by a margin of 391 votes to 242 votes. A third vote is expected to be held this upcoming week. The Commons also voted against a no-deal Brexit in a non-binding vote, as well as in favour of an extension under Article 50.

The UK Government has also published details on a temporary tariff regime which it would implement in the case of a no-deal Brexit. The major proposal is to temporarily slash tariffs on 87% of imports into the UK in order to cushion the impact on businesses and consumers. Tariffs will remain for certain sensitive industries. Details have been published here.

Turning regionally, the French Overseas Territory of Guadeloupe has acceded to the Organisaton of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) as an Associate Member, making it the second French Overseas Territory to join that organisation. A Special Meeting of the OECS Authority of Accession of Guadeloupe was held on March 14th and 15th 2019 in Guadeloupe. Read the communique here.

REGIONAL

Label worry

Barbados Today: Barbados’ expanding trade with Latin America has started to create some headaches for the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, as that organisation is witnessing substantial breaches in standardization laws relating to labels in a foreign language. Read more 

Belize among regional sugar producers disenfranchised on the CARICOM market

LoveFM: The movement of sugar in the CARICOM market continues to disenfranchise regional sugar producers. That is what a press release issued today by the Sugar Association of the Caribbean, SAC, is saying. Read more 

GO-Invest facilitated $89.4B in investments last year – CEO

Stabroek: The Guyana Office for Investment (GO-Invest) facilitated approximately $89.4 billion in investments last year and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Owen Verwey yesterday said there have been no negative indications from businesses and investors stemming from the recent political developments. Read more 

GO-Invest developing plan to revamp operations

Stabroek: The Guyana Office for Investment (GO-Invest) will be developing a strategic plan to overhaul its operations and refine its investment promotion, according to Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Owen Verwey. Read more 

Wto Tariff Cut Fears For ‘40,000 Bahamian Jobs’

Tribune 242: Local contractors have voiced mixed reactions to fears that a WTO-induced 50 percent tariff rate cut on pre-fabricated buildings “puts 40,000 Bahamian construction jobs at risk”. Read more 

Puerto Rico Trade & Export Co. launches support program for women

Caribbean Business: The Puerto Rico government awarded six food trucks to women from various parts of the island, with which they will be able to run, expand and even export their services in the future. Read more

T&T paint company penetrates Cuban market

Loop T&T: Trinidad and Tobago paint manufacturers, ANSA Coatings Limited, on Wednesday loaded a container with over €500,000 worth of product bound for Cuba, the company’s newest export market. Read more 

Energy Exports To Keep T&T’s Current Account In Surplus

Fitch Solutions: Fitch Solutions forecast that Trinidad and Tobago’s (T&T) current account surplus will widen in 2019 due to an expanded traded goods surplus. Read more

EU adds more Caribbean countries to money laundering blacklist

Caribbean News Now: Less than a month after the European Union (EU) blacklisted several jurisdictions worldwide including several Caribbean countries, the EU Commission has added more jurisdictions to its tax-haven and money laundering blacklist. Read more 

Export Saint Lucia anticipates export of mangoes, golden apples to US market

St Lucia News Online: Export Saint Lucia is expressing confidence that some fruits from the island will soon hit the United States (US) market. Read more 

Jamaica Customs On Track To Open Electronic Single Window For Trade In 2021

Jamaica Gleaner: The Jamaica Customs Agency said it is on track to roll out the electronic single-window system for trade in 2021. Read more

OECS welcomes Guadeloupe into fold in a changing regional environment

ST Lucia News Online: Guadeloupe on Wednesday night became the second French-speaking Caribbean country to be associated with the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) in an environment that St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves dubbed as “as a variable explanation of regional integration”. Read more 

Cemented

Barbados Today: Rock Hard Cement, owned by Barbadian construction magnate Mark Maloney, has won round one of a trade dispute with the Arawak Cement Company. Read more 

CARICOM leaders committed to delivering competitive transportation industry

Caribbean News Now: Heads of government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) are committed to deliver a competitive transportation industry, and are looking for the right model that would be fiscally appropriate for the provision of air transportation services in the region. Read more 

‘Open amnesty to Caricom nationals’

The Guardian (T&T): Cen­tre for Jus­tice chair­man Har­vey Bor­ris is lend­ing his sup­port to the Min­is­ter of Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty, Stu­art Young for his pro­pos­al of a one-year amnesty for Venezue­lan refugees who are cur­rent­ly re­sid­ing in T&T. How­ev­er, he be­lieves this op­por­tu­ni­ty should al­so be ex­tend­ed to oth­er Cari­com na­tion­als fac­ing a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion. Read more

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

How Chinese Investment in Latin America Is Changing

Americas Quarterly: Chinese financing in Latin America is changing. After becoming a major source of capital flows to Latin America and the Caribbean over the past 15 years, a more diverse range of investors has surfaced, interested in more than simply channeling resources towards infrastructure, governments and state companies. Read more 

Trump’s trade war cost U.S. economy $7.8 billion in 2018: study

Hellenic Shipping: President Donald Trump’s trade battles cost the U.S. economy $7.8 billion in lost gross domestic product in 2018, a study by a team of economists at leading American universities published this week showed. Read more 

What to expect from WTO’s 2019 Global Review of Aid for Trade

Devex: The world’s least developed countries have the smallest share of the global trade market, but highest reliance on a small number of commodities to support their economic growth — a key topic on the agenda at the World Trade Organization’s Global Review of Aid for Trade in July. Read more 

U.S. considers sanctions on firms facilitating Venezuelan oil shipments to Cuba

Miami Herald: The Trump administration is considering imposing sanctions on companies from third countries that facilitate the shipment of Venezuelan oil to Cuba, a senior administration official told the Miami Herald. Read more 

Canada open to seamless transition in trade with Britain after Brexit

iPolitics: Tuesday’s massive rejection by the British House of Commons of Prime Minister Theresa May’s eleventh-hour bid for Brexit on her terms leaves Britain’s future relations with the European Union up in the air. Read more 

Gender and trade spotlighted at UN Commission on Status of Women

UNCTAD: Trade policies are not gender neutral and can affect men and women differently due to the distinct roles each plays in our economies and societies, UNCTAD Deputy Secretary-General Isabelle Durant said on 13 March at the United Nations headquarters in New York City. Read more 

Trade wars are growing over the digital economy – and developing countries are shaping the agenda

The Conversation: At the heart of the current US trade war with China is tariffs on imports like steel, sorghum and silicon chips. But, with the growing role of data and digital technology in the world economy, a new arena of digital trade conflict is on the cards. Read more 

Brazil Reportedly Weighing Import Quota for US Wheat

VoA: Brazil is considering granting an import quota of 750,000 metric tons of U.S. wheat per year without tariffs in exchange for other trade concessions, according to a Brazilian official with knowledge of the negotiations ahead of President Jair Bolsonaro’s visit to Washington. Read more

WTO: India pushes for simpler qualification, licensing norms for foreign workers

Hindu Business Line: India has pushed for more transparent and simpler qualification and licensing norms at the World Trade Organization for workers and professionals seeking to work in another country and has circulated a draft paper for consideration of other members. Read more 

As US tightens sanctions, India cuts down oil imports from Venezuela blaming poor infrastructure

Financial Express: India’s import of oil from Venezuela is almost nil since the country’s infrastructure is not up to the mark, say sources. The bilateral trade between the two countries is at $ 6 billion and is in the favour of Venezuela due to oil imports by India. Read more 

UK will cut most tariffs to zero in event of no-deal Brexit

The Guardian: Tariffs will be cut to zero on 87% of imports to the UK as part of a temporary no-deal plan, but prices of some imports including meat, shoes, underpants and cars will go up. Read more 

Brexit: Does NI tariffs plan violate WTO law?

BBC: The UK government’s strategy for the Irish border if there’s a no deal Brexit will mean no tariffs on Irish goods going to Northern Ireland, but some Irish food products entering Great Britain will face high tariffs. Read more 

US trade rep says WTO playbook is outdated, needs reforms 

Reuters: The World Trade Organization is using an “out of date” playbook despite dramatic changes including the rise of China and the evolution of the internet, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in testimony to Congress on Tuesday. Read more 

Trump seeks to change free-trade agreements with Israel

Israel Hayom: U.S. trade negotiators will travel to Israel this week for advanced talks to rework the countries’ 1985 free-trade accord, upgrade their agricultural trade pact and reduce barriers for American farm exports to the Jewish state, Bloomberg reported. Read more 

Malaysia threatens WTO challenge to EU’s move to drop palm biofuel

New Strait Times: Malaysia on Saturday threatened to bring a World Trade Organisation (WTO) challenge if the European Union goes ahead with recommendations to phase out palm oil from transport fuel used in the bloc. Read more 

UN’s Asia-Pacific Trade And Investment Committee Convenes Amid Global Trade Uncertainty

Eurasia Review: Against the backdrop of uncertain trade relations between the United States and China, senior government officials from across Asia and the Pacific gathered in Bangkok this week to re-iterate their commitment to strengthening regional trade and investment. Read more 

Malaysia is cautiously optimistic on conclusion of RCEP by year end

New Strait Times: Despite some details that need to be ironed out, the government is optimistic on the conclusion of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) by year end. Read more 

Commentary: Concluding the high-stakes RCEP in 2019 will need a different approach

Channel News Asia: It’s useful to consider alternative approaches for facilitating the conclusion of the negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), says ISEAS-Yusof Ishak’s Tham Siew Yean. Read more 

EU tax blacklist could block Pacific trade – expert

Radio New Zealand: A Vanuatu-based business adviser is warning Pacific nations caught on a new EU tax blacklist could get locked out of trade in Europe. Read more 

EU leaders seek clarity from UK before possible Brexit delay

Deutsche Welle: European Union leaders say if Theresa May’s Brexit deal is rejected again, a clearer plan must be put forward. The UK is seeking a three-month extension to the current March 29 deadline in order to come to an agreement. Read more 

European parliament deals setback to EU-US trade talks

France24: The European Parliament on Thursday failed to back the launch of trade talks between the EU and the United States, dealing an unexpected blow to efforts to avert a transatlantic trade war. Read more 

EU Foreign direct investment report: continuous rise of foreign ownership of European companies in key sectors

EU: The report is the first of its kind in terms of the detailed company level data used. It confirms a continuous rise in foreign company ownership in key sectors in the EU and an increase in investments from emerging economies, such as China. It illustrates the need for effective implementation of the freshly adopted EU investment screening framework. Read more 

Commerce Sec Anup Wadhawan: India Looks For Better Deal For Exporters Under Free Trade Agreement

Techgraph: India is in discussions with its key trading partners to expand preferential duties under free trade agreements (FTAs) even as the government is streamlining procedures for exporters to avail benefits from such trade pacts, Commerce Secretary Anup Wadhawan has said. Read more 

Taiwan-El Salvador FTA still effective: MOEA

Focus Taiwan: El Salvador has never asked to cancel a free trade agreement (FTA) with Taiwan so the deal remains in place, even though the Central American country switched diplomatic recognition to China last year, Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) said Thursday. Read more 

Mnuchin: Lifting tariffs part of plan for USMCA passage

Politico: The Trump administration will work out a solution on steel and aluminum tariffs with Mexico and Canada as part of its efforts to get the new North American trade pact through Congress, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told lawmakers Thursday. Read more

African finance ministers set to examine fiscal policies key to AfCFTA implementation

The New Times: The 52nd session of the Economic Commission for Africa’s (ECA) Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, will be held in Marrakech, Morocco, next week under the theme; Fiscal policy, trade and the private sector in the digital era: A strategy for Africa. Read more 

Quality Research Needed to Help Implement the Afcfta

AllAfrica: With a few more ratifications needed for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to become effective, scholars meeting for the Economic Research Conference in Kigali pledged to produce good high-quality research papers to inform policymakers and help move the agreement forward. Read more 

AfCFTA – What Next After Ratifications?

All Africa: The African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) could soon gather the minimum required ratifications to put it into effect. Read more 

US requests consultations with South Korea under the free trade pact

Business Standard: The Trump administration has requested consultations with South Korea under the two nations’ free trade pact to try to resolve US concerns about procedures in competition hearings held by a South Korean trade commission. Read more 

UK signs post-Brexit trade deal with Fiji and Papua New Guinea

The Guardian: Ministers rush to do deals with countries UK trades with under EU free trade arrangements. Read more 

China Upbeat on Trade Talks, Denies Huawei Spying Allegations

VoA: China used the closing of its annual top-level political meetings, or “Two Sessions,” to send positive signals about its commitment to resolve trade tensions with Washington and push forward economic reforms. Read more 

China Aims to Placate U.S. With Law Banning Theft of Foreign Trade Secrets

Wall Street Journal: China made last-minute changes to a proposed foreign-investment law, trying to address U.S. complaints about forced technology transfer and bolster a compromise seen as crucial to striking a trade deal with Washington. Read more

WTO NEWS

WTO 2019 Public Forum theme to be ‘Trading Forward: Adapting to a Changing World’

The WTO’s 2019 Public Forum, to be held on 8-11 October, will consider how trade and the trading system can adapt to a changing world. Read more 

The Philippines launches safeguard investigation on clear and tinted float glass

On 13 March 2019, the Philippines notified the WTO’s Committee on Safeguards that it initiated on 19 February 2019 a safeguard investigation on clear and tinted float glass. Read more 

DDG Wolff: Eight reasons for optimism about the future of the multilateral trading system

Despite being tested “as never before” in its 80-year history, the multilateral trading system will endure, improve and survive, Deputy Director-General Alan Wolff predicted in a speech to the Harvard Law School on 12 March. DDG Wolff said there were eight “sound reasons for optimism” about the system’s future. 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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