Welcome to the Caribbean Trade & Development News Digest for the week of April 28-May 4, 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

This week, the CARICOM Council on Trade and Economic Development (COTED) held its 48th meeting, while the 19th Spe­cial Meet­ing of the CARI­COM Heads of Gov­ern­ment on Se­cu­ri­ty took place in Trinidad later in the week. On May 2, the US began enforcing Title III of the Helms-Burton Act of 1996 allowing US investors to bring claims against those found to be trafficking property confiscated by the Cuban government.

The EU has launched a public consultation as part of its evaluation exercise of the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement. The EU also released their proposal on WTO rules for ecommerce.  Meanwhile, the WTO announced a new fund to assist Least Developed Country members’ participation in fisheries subsidies talks.


REGIONAL NEWS

Cuba Denounces Intensification of US Blockade before WTO

Prensa Latina: Cuba denounced in Geneva before the World Trade Organization (WTO) the intensification of the United States, following the activation of Title III of the Helms Burton Law, diplomatic sources say. Read more 

Carnival hit with Helms-Burton lawsuit for using Havana terminal

Travel Weekly: A company that owned the cruise terminal in Havana prior to its 1960 confiscation by the Castro government has filed suit seeking damages from Carnival Corp. Read more 

Trust Deficit Hurting Agricultural Exports

Jamaica Gleaner: Erasing the trust deficit between local farmers and the exporters who peddle their produce to the Jamaican diaspora in North America and the United Kingdom must be addressed as a matter of priority. Read more

St. Vincent and the Grenadines hit by cattle shortage

St Lucia News Online: Local butchers are scheduled to meet with Saboto Caesar, the minister of agriculture, on Monday, amidst claims that there is a cattle shortage in St Vincent and the Grenadines. Richard Gibson, owner of Midway Butchers, told SEARCHLIGHT this week that this country was experiencing a cattle shortage as a result of exports to Grenada. Read more 

No need for alarm as regional labelling standards

Jamaica Observer: A regional standard for the labelling of pre-packaged foods is currently being revised, and is being led by the Caricom Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) – the regional standards development body. Read more 

Take care of matters that are important to people – COTED Chair, CARICOM SG

CARICOM: Barbados Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, the Hon. Sandra Husbands, wants Trade Ministers to take action on matters that will allow the people of the Region to actively feel the benefit of the CSME. Read more

Regional rum industry looking to increase share of global market

Nation News: CARICOM Trade Ministers approved a range of recommendations aimed at positioning the region’s rum industry to better take advantage of the global market. Read more 

CARICOM urges US to maintain duty-free market access

Dominica News Online: CARICOM Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque has expressed CARICOM’s interest in the renewal of legislation for the extension of the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act (CBTPA) and the WTO waiver beyond December 2019 to allow continued duty-free access to the US market. Read more 

Jamaica PM provides details of meeting with US president 

JIS: Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, says the recent meeting with President of the United States of America (USA), Donald Trump; and several Caribbean leaders provided a direct opportunity for the strengthening of bilateral and regional relationships. Read more 

Trade Ministers support international competitiveness for regional rum industry

Barbados Advocate: CARICOM Trade Ministers who met in Guyana this week, on April 29, approved a range of recommendations aimed at positioning the region’s rum industry to better take advantage of the global market. Read more 

Implementation of CSME cannot be a shifting target- CARICOM Secretary-General warns COTED

Kaieteur News: CARICOM Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque has called for consistent efforts of Regional Heads for the implementation of recommendations, towards the achieving goals set out under the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME). Read more 

Customs and Excise Department holds Asycuda sensitization workshop

Searchlight: Direct trader input, faster clearance time, and increase in revenue collection are just some of the benefits of using ASYCUDA software. That’s the word from ASYCUDA Coordinator at the Customs and Excise Department, Samantha Robinson. Read more

Bim in ‘new’ world battle, says Husbands

Barbados Today: Barbados could soon find itself in another compliance battle with an international body over its trade and taxation practices, Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Trade Sandra Husbands told Parliament today. Read more

Rowley: Robust regional security is essential

Guardian (T&T): Fol­low­ing are the open­ing re­marks de­liv­ered by Prime Min­is­ter Dr Kei­th Row­ley at the 19th Spe­cial Meet­ing of the CARI­COM Heads of Gov­ern­ment on Se­cu­ri­ty cur­rent­ly tak­ing place in Port-of-Spain. Read more 


INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Does China really control Africa’s destiny?

Devex: For decades, development partners from industrialized nations have relied on aid and foreign direct investment to finance infrastructure developments, stimulate economic growth, and build technical capacity. Countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Germany have, for many years, led the way in providing international support to developing economies. Read more 

AU Commission prepares for single market launch in July

The East African: The African Continental Free Trade Area will enter into force during the next African Union Summit slated for Niamey, Niger, in July. Read more 

African countries urged to discuss modalities as AfCFTA edges closer to effect

Xinhua: The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) on Saturday urged African countries and pan-African institutions to prepare modalities as the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) edges closer to entry into force. Read more 

Malaysia: ASEAN’s e-commerce gateway to China

The ASEAN Post: As we enter the Fourth Industrial Revolution and practically everything is moving online, the importance of e-commerce is heightened now more than ever before. E-commerce, in fact, is quickly becoming the primary mode of business and trade around the world – ASEAN included.  Read more 

UN Chief to Address WTO General Council next week

Business Standard: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is to make a historic address to the General Council of the World Trade Organization (WTO) next week, the UN said here on Friday. Read more 

Abe vows to seek WTO reforms at G20 Osaka summit

NHK: Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says he will raise the issue of reforming the World Trade Organization at the Group of 20 nations summit in Osaka in June. Read more 

EU-Brazil trade should be more sustainable, 600 scientists say

Euractiv: In an open letter, 600 European scientists and 300 indigenous groups are calling for the EU to insist on the respect for environmental and human rights standards in its current trade negotiations with Brazil. EURACTIV Germany reports. Read more 

EU vows to respond to US sanctions to protect companies in Cuba

Euractiv: The European Union is ready to counter potential US sanctions against European companies in Cuba, the bloc’s top diplomat said on Thursday (2 May), following Washington’s reactivation of parts of the legislation that would allow US citizens to file lawsuits against investors in the island. Read more 

Ecommerce on agenda at WTO Delhi meet

Economic Times: E-commerce negotiations at the multilateral level will be a key area of talks at the informal World Trade Organization (WTO) ministerial meeting which will take place in Delhi later this month. Read more 

Pence: tariffs part of enforcement in a US-China trade deal

Yahoo News: The removal of tough US tariffs on Chinese goods will be part of enforcing any new trade deal between Beijing and Washington, US Vice President Mike Pence said Friday. Read more 

EU releases proposal on new WTO rules for electronic commerce

EU: The EU has today made public its text proposal on future rules and obligations on e-commerce as part of WTO negotiations on e-commerce endorsed by Ministers in the margins of the Davos World Economic Forum in January 2019. The release of the text proposal is part of the EU’s commitment to transparency and inclusiveness in the development of its trade policy. Read more 

Trump Gave the Japanese Prime Minister a Break on Trade, For Now

TIME: President Donald Trump did Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe a favor last week, delaying the start of negotiations on a tricky trade decision, potentially pushing it past that country’s elections in July, three officials briefed on the talks tell TIME. Read more 

Mexico will not accept more labor enforcement in new NAFTA, top official says

Politico: A top Mexican official delivered an ultimatum to Democrats on Friday, saying the country will not accept a stronger labor enforcement mechanism in the new North American trade pact and will not support reopening the deal to further negotiation. Read more 

US boosts exports to Ghana with new framework agreement

Global Trade Review: The export credit agencies (ECA) of the US and Ghana have signed a US$300mn agreement to support the procurement of US goods and services by Ghanaian SMEs.  Read more 

79-Nation ACP Group Must Guard Against Lack of Unity

IndepthNews: The prospect of Brexit, the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union, continues to loom large over the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group of countries. If a no-deal Brexit happens in October, this could mean severe consequences for the ACP. Read more 

Africa Continental Free Trade Area to enter into force in July

CGTN: The African Continental Free Trade Area will officially enter into force during the next Extra-Ordinary Heads of State and Government summit slated for 7th July 2019 in Niamey, Niger. Read more 

Mexican Congress Passes Labor Law Tied to USMCA Trade Agreement

Bloomberg: Mexico’s Senate approved an overhaul to the country’s labor code, a move that U.S. House Democrats made a pre-condition for debating a successor to the Nafta trade deal. Read more 

‘Productive’ end to latest round of US-China trade talks

South China Morning Post: The latest round of trade negotiations between China and the United States concluded on Wednesday, with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin describing the talks as productive. Read more 

What’s at Stake and at Risk in the U.S.-Japan Trade Talks

Fortune: More than two years after U.S. President Donald Trump walked away from a regional Asia-Pacific trade agreement, the U.S. and Japan — the world’s largest and third-largest economies — are negotiating a deal of their own. Both sides insist they want a “win-win” outcome, but as evidenced by the Trump administration’s tariff battles with China and the European Union, there’s also potential for serious economic damage if things go bad. Read more 

Canadian and Japanese leaders tout benefits of Pacific trade deal that Trump abandoned

Reuters: The leaders of Canada and Japan on Sunday touted the benefits of a Pacific trade deal that U.S. President Donald Trump walked away from and said the pact should serve as a model for future agreements. Read more 

EU belittles U.S. claims as ‘frankly childish’ at WTO Airbus hearing

Reuters: A European Union trade lawyer fired withering put-downs at U.S. claims for damages due to subsidies for European planemaker Airbus in a recording of a dispute hearing made available by the World Trade Organization (WTO) on Tuesday. Read more

Free trade and WTO face tests on many fronts

Asia Times: In the era of Trump, tariff wars and Brexit, a widely-overlooked ruling early this month at the World Trade Organization looks set to place that organization under US threat, at a time when the world is receding ever further into an era of managed trade. Read more 

EU court backs use of trade tribunals to protect foreign investors

Reuters: The European Union won backing from the bloc’s top court on Tuesday for its system to protect foreign companies, which proponents say is essential for future trade agreements but critics say unfairly favors multinationals. Read more 

New NAFTA’s sunset clause is a ticking time bomb

The Hill: The United States, Mexico and Canada just finished renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), but the future of the new NAFTA remains uncertain. Read more 


WTO NEWS

DG Azevêdo announces new fund to help LDCs participate in fisheries subsidies talks

At a meeting of the full WTO membership on 3 May, Director-General Roberto Azevêdo announced that a new WTO trust fund has been established to support least developed countries to take part in negotiations on fisheries subsidies over the coming months, ahead of the end-of-year deadline for this work agreed by members. Read more

Aid for Trade Global Review 2019 registration now open

Registration is now open for the Aid for Trade Global Review 2019, to be held from 3 to 5 July under the theme “Supporting Economic Diversification and Empowerment” at the WTO’s headquarters in Geneva. The Global Review will discuss how Aid for Trade supports economic diversification and empowerment, with a focus on eliminating extreme poverty, particularly through the effective participation of micro, small and medium enterprises, women and youth. Read more

10 years of WTO monitoring — enhancing trade policy transparency and predictability

Following the outbreak of the 2008 global financial crisis, WTO members tasked the WTO Secretariat with the mission to prepare regular updates on the latest trends in the implementation of new trade and trade-related measures and on important developments in trade policy-making. Launched in early 2009, the trade monitoring exercise successfully continues to this day, having delivered 23 WTO-wide and 20 G20 trade monitoring reports over the past decade. Read more 

WTO opens online registration for 2019 Public Forum

Online registration for the 2019 Public Forum is now open. The main theme of this year’s event, to be held at the WTO’s headquarters from 8 to 11 October, is “Trading Forward: Adapting to a Changing World”. Registration closes on 16 September 2019. Read more 

Azevêdo: E-commerce moratorium has long been a feature of the multilateral trading system

Addressing a workshop on the moratorium on customs duties on electronic transmissions on 29 April, Director-General Roberto Azevêdo said the digital economy and the e-commerce moratorium have been an important focus of conversations for many WTO members, particularly since the Buenos Aires Ministerial Conference in 2017.  Read more 

Members adopt national security ruling on Russian Federation’s transit restrictions

The Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) on 26 April formally adopted a panel ruling clarifying the use of national security exceptions to WTO rules as invoked in the trade dispute between the Russian Federation and Ukraine over transit restrictions. 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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