On Tuesday, November 26th, the Barbados House of Assembly at its 57th sitting debated and passed the Economic Partnership Agreement Bill, 2019. Barbados signed the UK-CARIFORUM EPA in March 2019, and this week’s debate was part of the domestic ratification process. The bill is now before the Senate – the Upper Chamber of the country’s bicameral legislature. Once the bill is passed by the Senate and assented to by the Governor-General, it will have the force of law domestically in Barbados.
The UK-CARIFORUM EPA was the result of technical discussions entered into between the UK Government and CARIFORUM (CARICOM plus the Dominican Republic) countries to roll over the provisions of the EU-CARIFORUM EPA. This was to ensure that CARIFORUM goods and services would continue to benefit from preferential access to the UK market once the UK formally leaves the EU and the EU-CARIFORUM EPA no longer applies to UK-CARIFORUM trade. To date, the UK has completed 19 similar ‘continuity’ agreements cover 49 countries and territories, and accounting for just over 8% of its total trade.
Leading off the debate, Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Trade, the Hon. Sandra Husbands, M.P., noted that the loss of preferential access to the UK market post-Brexit would have negatively impacted Barbados’ exports to the UK – one of Barbados’ top trading partners. She highlighted that Barbados’ major exports to the UK were sugar and rum, optical parts, condiments, mauby and biscuits. She drew attention to the important role played by the Barbadian diaspora in the UK. She also highlighted that preserving UK-Barbados trade was key to ensuring continued employment in these sectors in Barbados.
Minister Husbands further lamented the very modest impact the EU-CARIFORUM EPA has had on UK-CARIFORUM trade, and UK-Barbados trade in particular. She contrasted Barbados and CARICOM’s limited performance with that of the Dominican Republic which has seen much greater trade and investment flows with the EU following the EPA.
The presentation by Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Trade, the Hon. Sandra Husbands, MP. and the ensuing debate may be watched here:
Alicia Nicholls, B.Sc., M.Sc., LL.B., is an international trade and development consultant with a keen interest in sustainable development, international law and trade. You can also read more of her commentaries and follow her on Twitter @LicyLaw.
DISCLAIMER: All views expressed herein are her personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of any institution or entity with which she may be affiliated from time to time.