Welcome to the Caribbean Trade & Development News Digest for the week of May 5-11, 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, US-China trade talks came to an end without any agreement. The Trump Administration increased the level of tariffs from 10 percent to 25 percent on approximately $200 billion worth of Chinese imports. Read the statement by USTR Robert Lighthizer here.


REGIONAL NEWS

Cuba to increase rationing amid shortages

BBC: Cuba has announced rationing of more products amid shortages it blames on the US trade embargo and hoarders. Read more 

Fake skills certificates detected in the region

The New Today: Grenada is among six CARICOM countries that have been on the receiving end of fake skills certificates from CARICOM nationals especially Jamaicans who are seeking employment. Read more 

Seprod Drops Case For Evaporated Milk, But Ready For Condensed Market

Jamaica Gleaner: Jamaica need only prove that it can supply three-quarters of the market for condensed and evaporated to gain protection for manufacturers, but a top dairy producer, Seprod Limited, says it already has the capacity to serve 100 per cent of the Caribbean market for one of those commodities. Read more 

Better cocoa – T&T Ministry of Trade & Industry wants improved quality of beans

The Guardian (T&T): Min­is­ter of Trade and In­dus­try, Paula Gopee-Scoon, has pre­sent­ed two new co­coa stan­dards to The Uni­ver­si­ty of the West In­dies (UWI) which were de­vel­oped by the Trinidad and To­ba­go Bu­reau of Stan­dards (TTBS), in­tend­ed to im­prove the qual­i­ty of lo­cal­ly pro­duced co­coa beans. Read more

Exports ‘tun up’ but not enough – Seaga

Jamaica Gleaner: Jamaica’s impressive export performance for 2018 when the country recorded a whopping 37.8 per cent increase over the previous year, the highest growth in 10 years, was dampened by the failure to stem in any substantial way the country’s heavy dependence on imported goods, according to Metry Seaga, president of the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporteers’ Association (JMEA). Read more

Former Barbados Central Bank Governor proposes regional switch to US currency

Barbados Today: According to former Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados Dr DeLisle Worrell switching to the US currency would essentially eliminate the threat of domestic currency depreciation and with it, the resulting possible disruptions to economic stability. The economist said there was no time like the present to switch to US currency and he noted that the process is not as difficult as some people may imagine. Read more

Dominica to get technical assistance from World Bank for international airport says Skerrit

Dominica News Online: Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit has said that the government hopes to access technical assistance from the World Bank in its plans to construct an international airport in Dominica. Read more 


INTERNATIONAL NEWS

WTO meet next week: Appellate body, reforms in focus

Economic Times: A WTO mini-ministerial meeting of 16 developing and six least-developed countries in Delhi next week will take up impasse over the appointment of appellate body members at the World Trade Organisation and reforms at the global trade body. Read more 

The Panama Canal Could Become the Center of the U.S.-China Trade War

Foreign Policy: Following outgoing president Juan Carlos Varela’s unexpected decision to end diplomatic relations with Taiwan in order to establish formal ties with Beijing in June 2017, a tidal wave of Chinese investment is in the works. Read more 

Rick Scott wants the U.S. Navy to block Cuba and Venezuela’s oil trade

Miami Herald: A week after Rick Scott called for the U.S. military to intervene in Venezuela amid Juan Guaidó’s attempt to oust Nicolás Maduro from power, the U.S. Senate’s biggest hawk on Venezuela is calling for more. Read more 

Canada calls out on China at WTO council meeting, demands evidence to back canola ban

Global News: Stephen de Boer, the Canadian ambassador to the world’s leading trade body in Geneva, told the WTO’s general council on Tuesday that Canada wants to meet in China in good faith to hear its science-based concerns that recent Canadian canola shipments were, in fact, tainted. Read more

Time to say goodbye to NAFTA’s replacement?

Toronto Star: Last week, White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney was sanguine about the prospect of Congress rejecting NAFTA’s proposed replacement, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). “You could stay status quo,” Mulvaney told a California business conference. “Your real Plan Bs are either NAFTA or withdraw from NAFTA.” Read more

Trade war and Brexit pose mounting risk to EU economy, says EC

The Guardian: The threat of a full-blown trade war between the US and China and Brexit uncertainty are posing mounting risks to the EU economy, the European commission has warned, after downgrading its growth outlook for 2019. Read more 

Canada’s trade deficit shrank to $3.2 billion in March, StatsCan reports

CBC: Statistics Canada says the country’s merchandise trade deficit shrank in March as exports — led by the energy sector — rose faster than imports. The agency says the deficit for March amounted to $3.2 billion compared with $3.4 billion in February. Read more

A defence of the beleaguered WTO Appellate Body

IELP blog: See blog post by Prof. Steve Charvonitz.  Read here.

UK, EU to agree free-trade deal, October 31 Brexit date in doubt – Reuters poll

The Hill: Britain will eventually leave the European Union and agree a free-trade deal with the bloc, according to the vast majority of economists polled by Reuters who were, however, split on whether the two sides would divorce on Oct. 31. Read more

As Europe grapples with Brexit, the African Union seeks a more United States of Africa

CNN: While debates about the unpredictability of economic and political relationships between the EU and Britain continue to linger, thousands of miles away, the African Union (AU) is creating a close-knit relationship among its own 55 member nations. Read more

US imposes sanctions on shipping firms, tankers tied to Venezuela

The Hill: The Treasury Department on Friday said it is slapping new sanctions on companies involved in shipping oil from Venezuela to Cuba, marking the latest move by the U.S. to clamp down on embattled President Nicolás Maduro. Read more 

New FinCEN Guidance on Virtual Currencies

FinCEN: To provide regulatory certainty for businesses and individuals engaged in expanding fields of financial activity, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) today issued the following guidance, Application of FinCEN’s Regulations to Certain Business Models Involving Convertible Virtual Currencies (CVC). Read more 

Why the New U.S.-EU Trade Talks May Be Doomed Before They Even Start

Fortune: By the middle of last year, the U.S. had hit the European Union with steel and aluminum tariffs, the EU had responded with counter-tariffs on American goods, and some feared the situation could escalate into a full-blown trade war. Read more 

EU commissioner says agriculture not on agenda for US talks

Euractiv: The European Union intends to keep agriculture off the agenda in its trade talks with the United States and continues to support rules-based, open and predictable international commerce, the EU’s agriculture commissioner said on Friday (10 May). Read more 

USMCA trade deal could cost Georgia produce growers nearly $900 million, report says

CNBC: Unless the proposed U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) is changed, it could “cause extensive economic damage to Georgia” and its fresh produce industry, according to economists at the University of Georgia. Read more 

China says ‘fed up’ with hearing U.S. complaints on Belt and Road

Reuters: China is “fed up” with hearing complaints from the United States about its Belt and Road program to re-create the old Silk Road, the government said on Thursday, following stinging criticism from U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Read more 

Italy could become Belt and Road terminal in southern Europe: officials

Xinhua: A conference entitled “Italy-China Partnership in the New Silk Road” was held Friday here, at which Italian government officials and experts voiced their support for the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), discussing the possibility of Italy becoming the BRI’s terminal in southern Europe. Read more 

Trade facilitation reforms spur development, experts say

UNCTAD: Effective implementation of reforms to trade facilitation in developing countries can catalyse progress towards meeting development goals, attendees at an UNCTAD expert meeting heard on 7 May. Read more 

Canada reveals final trade safeguards for heavy plate, stainless steel wire

CBC: The Canadian Border Services Agency announced Friday the final ‘safeguard’ surtaxes meant to shield the domestic steel industry from competition from cheaper foreign imports of heavy plate and stainless steel wire. Read more 


WTO NEWS

UN’s Guterres underscores importance of revitalizing multilateral trade cooperation

A rules-based, non-discriminatory and equitable trading system is not only in the interest of all trading partners but is essential to preserving the interests of the poorest and most vulnerable economies, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres told WTO members on 10 May. Speaking at a special session of the WTO’s General Council, Secretary-General Guterres, alongside Director-General Roberto Azevêdo and General Council Chair Sunanta Kangvalkulkij, said members need to work to restore the spirit of international cooperation and “buttress this unique institution that has safeguarded international trading relationships over the past 70 years”. Read more

WTO launches updated profiles on trade in value-added terms and global value chains

The WTO released on 9 May an updated set of profiles for 64 WTO members, revealing the share of domestic and foreign components in the exports of these economies and their participation in global value chains (GVCs). The profiles also shed light on the contribution of the services sector to trade and the value of trade in intermediate products for each of the economies covered by the profiles. Read more 

DG Azevêdo meets with participants of Geneva Week for non-resident members and observers

Director-General Roberto Azevêdo met with participants in the Geneva Week for non-resident members and observers, taking place at the WTO from 6 to 10 May 2019. Participants had the opportunity to interact with the Director-General, who informed them about current issues in the WTO and the wider trading system. Read more 

Trade Policy Review: Papua New Guinea

The third review of the trade policies and practices of Papua New Guinea takes place on 8 May and 10 May 2019. The basis for the review is a report by the WTO Secretariat and a report by the Government of Papua New Guinea. Read more 

Summary of WTO General Council Meeting

A WTO General Council Meeting was held on May 7, 2019. The summary of the meeting is available here.

Philippines submits request for observer status in WTO Committee on Government Procurement

Ambassador Manuel A. J. Teehankee, Philippine Permanent Representative to the WTO, delivered to WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo on 6 May the request of the Philippine government to become an observer in the Committee on Government Procurement. Read more 

Consumer groups express support for multilateral trade, stress priorities for e-commerce

Senior representatives of consumer organizations meeting today (6 May 2019) at the WTO headquarters sent a strong message of support for the WTO and the multilateral trading system. They stressed the importance of ensuring consumers’ concerns are taken into account in trade negotiations and policy-making and presented their priorities for e-commerce along with recommendations on how these priorities should be addressed at the WTO. Read more 

Applications open for WTO workshop on public health, global trade and intellectual property

The WTO, in close collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), will hold its 6th annual Workshop on Trade and Public Health in Geneva from 11 to 15 November 2019. The deadline to submit applications is 14 June 2019. Read more 


BLOG NEWS

59967901_10156350648221687_2425942741625077760_o (2)This week I presented a paper at the 20th Annual SALISES Conference on “Rethinking Caribbean Futures: New Paradigms, Possibilities and Policies” held at the Hilton Hotel, Barbados, May 8-10, 2019.

The topic of my paper was on rethinking the eligibility model for Special and Differential Treatment (S&DT) in the World Trade Organization (WTO).

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.