Welcome to the Caribbean Trade & Development Digest for the week of March 31- April 6, 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.

HIGHLIGHTS

With the new Brexit deadline of April 12, 2019 fast approaching and no sign that British MPs are any closer to backing the Draft Withdrawal Agreement negotiated by the Theresa May Government with the EU, which they already rejected three times, the UK Government has asked for a further extension until June 30, 2019.

The WTO released its April outlook for global trade growth, revising downward its forecast for 2019 amidst rising trade tensions. Read more here: WTO: Trade tensions pose greatest risk to trade growth

Meanwhile regionally, the CARICOM Competition Commission (CCC) has warned that the sale of Scotia Bank could have anti-competitive effects in three countries. Read the statement from the CCC here.

The text of the CARIFORUM-UK Economic Partnership Agreement has been released. Read more here: UK-CARIFORUM Economic Partnership Agreement: What does it all mean?

REGIONAL NEWS

Local manufacturers told to explore extra regional markets

LoopTT: Local manufacturers are being urged to seek out and penetrate new markets beyond CARICOM.  Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon made the comment while speaking at the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers’ Association’s (TTMA) 63rd Annual General Meeting on Tuesday. Read more 

Towards a Transparent and Effective Management of Guyana’s Oil and Gas Sector

Modern Diplomacy: The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved a US$20 million credit from the International Development Association (IDA) to strengthen institutions, laws and regulations to promote good governance and a prudent management of Guyana’s oil and gas sector. Read more 

CARICOM body warns sale of Scotiabank could have anti-competitive effect

Nation News: The Suriname-based Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Competition Commission (CCC) says the intended sale of Scotiabank’s assets in nine Caribbean countries could have anti-competitive effects in at least three CARICOM member states. Read more 

Imbert: US lobbyist seeking opportunities for Govt

Guardian (TT): The Group DC LLC, the US lob­by­ist firm, which un­der­took sev­er­al trade and in­vest­ment pro­mo­tion ini­tia­tives for the T&T Gov­ern­ment last year, iden­ti­fied op­por­tu­ni­ties and strate­gies to en­gage multi­na­tion­al cor­po­ra­tions to po­ten­tial­ly in­crease com­mer­cial ship­ping and dry­dock con­struc­tion here. Read more 

Take Trade Matters Seriously

Barbados Today: Former Barbados Government Minister, Ms. Lynette Eastmond wants to see a different approach by the Barbados private sector to the issue of the country negotiating trade agreements. Read more 

CDB grant to help CARICOM investigate suitability of plantation white sugar for regional manufacturing

Caribbean News Now: A collaboration between the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) aims to improve the availability of data to guide evidence-based decisions about the future of sugar in CARICOM. Read more 

Guyana part of regional study on substituting refined sugar with “plantation white”

Demerara Waves: Guyana is among four sugar-producing Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member nations that will be the focus of a regional study on the prospects of substituting imported refined sugar with plantation white, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) said Tuesday. Read more 

CSME: The principle, process and progress

Newsday (Trinidad): Gracia Whyte a Jamaican, made sure she had all her documents in order when she began the process of applying for a Caricom Single Market Economy (CSME) skills certificate. She even had her employer, Digicel, to help ease her through the transition during her application process. Bureaucracy, however, still held her back. Read more 

Wto ‘No Silver Bullet’ For Gdp Growth Woes

Tribune242: Full World Trade Organisation (WTO) membership “is not a silver bullet” for solving The Bahamas’ economic growth woes, a Chamber of Commerce executive argued yesterday. Read more 

Aruba Extends Airbnb Agreement

Travel Pulse: Aruba’s government has extended its 2016 agreement with home-stay provider Airbnb to “continue with the promotion of sustainable tourism in Aruba through home sharing,” said Aruba Tourism Authority (ATA) officials in a statement. Read more 

Belize Imports up 6.8% in February 2019

Amandala: Latest statistics released by the Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB) say that Belize imported nearly $146 million worth of goods in February 2019, an increase of $9.2 million (6.8%) over the $136.8 million worth of goods we imported in February 2018. Read more 

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Brexit chaos leaves dismay in Asia-Pacific

Asia Times: Britain’s failure to acyhieve a withdrawal agreement with the EU has had a very negative impact on the UK’s relationships in Asia and it could deal a serious blow to its trade with the region. Read more 

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow says US-China trade deal ‘closer and closer’

South China Morning Post: US President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser says the US and China are “closer and closer” to a trade deal, and that top-tier officials would be talking again this week via “a lot of teleconferencing”. Read more

A swashbuckling global Britain free to do its own trade deals? It’s a mirage

The Guardian: Whatever happens in the Brexit negotiations, the question of the UK’s future trade relations with countries outside the European Union will become acute for businesses, investors, workers and citizens. Read more 

Chile Lawmakers Delay Vote Again on Pacific Trade Deal

Bloomberg: Chilean lawmakers have once again delayed voting on a major Pacific trade deal, heightening concerns that they could reject the treaty. Read more 

Major New UN Report Calls for Overhaul of Global Financial System

UNDP: Sixty-plus international organizations, led by the United Nations and including the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank Group and World Trade Organization, jointly sounded the alarm Thursday in a new report, warning that unless national and international financial systems are revamped, the world’s governments will fail to keep their promises on such critical issues as combatting climate change and eradicating poverty by 2030. Read more 

Moving the ACP Group to Centre Stage of Multilateralism

IndepthNews: In today’s global situation that bears the features of turbulence, fragility and an increasingly precarious balance between peace and possible nuclear annihilation, the role and relevance of the United Nations Organisation has assumed unparalleled importance. Read more 

Brexit extension veto by EU unlikely, says Leo Varadkar

BBC: It is unlikely an EU 27 country will veto a UK request for a delay to Brexit, the Irish prime minister has said. Read more 

May asks for Brexit extension to 30 June as Tusk offers up to a year

The Guardian: Rather than the year-long flexible extension to article 50 recommended by the European council president, the prime minister suggested 30 June as the new departure date, but with an option to leave earlier if the necessary legislation has been passed. Read more 

The African Continental Free Trade Area – More Hills To Climb

East African Business Week: The African Continental Free Trade Area (AFTA) has garnered the required 22 ratifications for it to enter into force, the latest ratification coming in on April 1, 2019, from The Gambia. Read more 

Trade agreement bolsters South Africa exports into Brazil

African daily voice: According to South African Foreign Economic Representative in Brazil, Shanaaz Ebrahim, the preferential trade agreement between the Southern African Customs Unions (SACU) and the Southern Common Market (Mercosur) trade blocs has led to a steady increase of South African exports into Brazil. Read more

After China, the US will ratchet up trade tensions with the EU, OECD chief economist warns

CNBC: Once the U.S. and China have reached a trade deal, the world’s largest economy will amplify tensions with the European Union, according to the chief economist of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Read more 

The Risk of E-Commerce Provisions in the RCEP

The Diplomat: The world of digital economies, innovation, and global value chains (GVCs) is changing rapidly. Every day there are stories about new technologies, services, and products that present unexpected possibilities and unforeseen challenges. Read more 

RCEP trade pact likely to be concluded in November: ASEAN chief Lim Jock Hoi

Japan Times: An Asiawide free trade deal involving 16 countries will likely be concluded in November at a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to be held in Thailand, ASEAN Secretary-General Lim Jock Hoi has said. Read more 

Pelosi: No vote on new NAFTA until Mexico changes labor laws

Politico: Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated on Tuesday the House will not consider President Donald Trump’s new North American trade pact until after Mexico has passed and implemented its major labor law reforms. Read more 

Canada says reopening USMCA trade pact could be a ‘Pandora’s box’

Reuters: Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland on Thursday cautioned against the idea of reopening a new continental trade pact with the United States and Mexico, saying it could be a “Pandora’s box.” Read more 

U.S., China to Keep Working on Trade Deal After Latest Talks

Bloomberg: China and the U.S. made progress toward a much-anticipated trade deal in their latest meetings and will keep talking on the remaining issues, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported. Read more 

Why the Kenya-Uganda trade agreement over SGR is a raw deal for Kenya

CFM (Kenya): Last week President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni struck a wide ranging trade agreement that basically removes existing trade barriers and commits Uganda to connect to Kenya its component of the SGR under the broader Chinese belt and road initiative (BRI). Read more

WTO NEWS

WTO issues panel report regarding Russian restrictions on traffic in transit

On 5 April the WTO circulated the panel report in the case brought by Ukraine in “Russia — Measures Concerning Traffic in Transit” (DS512). Read more 

Australia ratifies WTO procurement pact

Australia has ratified the WTO’s Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA), submitting its instrument of accession to the WTO Secretariat on 5 April. Starting next month, the country will benefit from new market access opportunities and other provisions under the pact. Read more 

Members advance work on new import licensing website and database

As part of overall efforts to improve transparency, WTO members advanced work to put into place a new import licensing website and database expected to be launched in late 2019 or early 2020. Read more 

DG Azevêdo praises Mexico’s support for a strong and effective rules-based system

Director-General Roberto Azevêdo welcomed Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s strong support for the WTO on 4 April, when they met in Mexico City. Their discussions included the importance of international trade and of a strong and effective rules-based system and the emerging debate on how to strengthen the WTO and global trade cooperation. Read more

Trade Policy Review: Bangladesh

The fifth review of the trade policies and practices of Bangladesh takes place on 3 and 5 April 2019. The basis for the review is a report by the WTO Secretariat and a report by the Government of Bangladesh. Read more 

Egypt launches safeguard investigation on semi-finished products of iron or non-alloy steel and steel rebar for construction purposes

On 2 April 2019, Egypt notified the WTO’s Committee on Safeguards that it initiated on 31 March 2019 a safeguard investigation on semi-finished products of iron or non-alloy steel and steel rebar (bars, rods and coils) for construction purposes. Read more 

Global trade growth loses momentum as trade tensions persist

World trade will continue to face strong headwinds in 2019 and 2020 after growing more slowly than expected in 2018 due to rising trade tensions and increased economic uncertainty. WTO economists expect merchandise trade volume growth to fall to 2.6% in 2019 — down from 3.0% in 2018. Trade growth could then rebound to 3.0% in 2020; however, this is dependent on an easing of trade tensions. Read more 

CTLD BLOG NEWS

The Caribbean Trade Law & Development (CTLD) Blog has been rated number 10 on Feedspot‘s Top 30 Caribbean Blogs, News Websites & Newsletters To Follow in 2019.

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.