Happy New Year! Welcome to our first Caribbean Trade & Development News Digest for the year 2020! We trust you all had an enjoyable holiday season! We are happy to bring you the major trade and development headlines and analysis from across the Caribbean Region and the world for the first two weeks of 2020!

There will be much to watch in trade this year so we look forward to you following the developments with us from week to week.

HIGHLIGHTS

The beginning of the year saw US-Iran tensions hit a boiling point. These tensions have simmered somewhat, and oil prices, which rose but not as high as expected, have since lowered in light of the ease in tensions.

Global growth is set to rise by 2.5% this year, a small increase from 2.4% in 2019, as trade and investment gradually recover. This is according to the World Bank’s semi-annual Global Economic Prospects released January 2020.

Regionally, on January 1, 2020, Barbados’ Prime Minister the Hon. Mia Amor Mottley took over the chairmanship of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) under that organisation’s rotating chairmanship system. Read more here.

A three-day CARICOM workshop was held this to discuss World Trade Organization (WTO) issues. It was hosted by the SRC and WTI in Barbados and attended by ambassadors, technocrats and other high-level trade professionals.

A significant oil discovery has been made offshore another CARICOM Member State. This time, it is Suriname. Read here. Also recall that Guyana is now an oil producing nation.

REGIONAL NEWS

Caricom raises external tariffs on pasta, cement

Newsday TT: CARICOM’s Council for the Trade and Economic Development (COTED) has increased the common external tariff (CET) on pasta and cement for one year. It came into effect on January 1. Read more

Food, drink labelling to change

Barbados Today: Makers of packaged food and drink products may be required to have front-of-package nutrition labels by year end, Barbados TODAY has learned. But manufacturers are said to be concerned that having to revamp their labels could come at a major cost with business still slow in a tight economy. Read more

Two faces of WTO emerge at meeting

Barbados Today: Even as the world’s major economic powers abandon the global rules-based system in ongoing trade feuds, an international think tank’s advisor has urged officials here and in the region not to give up on the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Read more

Walcott insists multilateral trade must benefit all

Barbados Today: Multilateral trade must redound to the benefit of all, regardless of size. Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Dr Jerome Walcott, made this declaration at a three-day CARICOM workshop held to discuss World Trade Organization (WTO) issues at the Savannah Beach Hotel, recently. Read more

Poultry investor halts $7-$8 million investment over WTO uncertainty

Eyewitness News (Bahamas): A poultry investor said yesterday it has put ‘on hold’ its $7-$8 million investment until the government makes clear its position going forward on the World Trade Organization (WTO). Read more

Guyana rice exports valued at more than US$200 million

Jamaica Observer: The Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) said it recorded a 20 per cent increase in revenue after exporting more than half a million tonnes of paddy, rice and rice by-products last year. Read more

CARICOM needs united voice on global issues

Barbados Advocate: If it has not been done already, the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) states have to devise a strategy for the global political and economic tensions and developments which continue to characterize the world in which we live. Read more

CARICOM countries need to prepare for fallout of US and Iran situation

St Lucia News Online: A sug­ges­tion that CARI­COM heads meet as soon as pos­si­ble, and come up with a strat­e­gy to deal with any pos­si­ble fall­out or dan­ger­ous sce­nar­ios, re­sult­ing from the re­cent dé­tente be­tween the Unit­ed States and Iran. Read more

CARICOM heads chided for lack of sports investment

Caribbean Life News: Caribbean heads of governments have been accused of not keeping pace with their sportsmen and women because the politicians are failing to provide facilities to support athletes consistent with their worldwide successes. Read more

Will the EU care about the Caribbean after Brexit?

The Voice: It’s not just Britain’s attitude towards its former colonies that may change with its geopolitical divorce. Lyndon Mukasa says the European Union’s position is also of growing interest. Read more

UK expands its presence in Commonwealth countries

Barbados Advocate: THE United Kingdom’s representation in the Commonwealth countries of the Eastern Caribbean has expanded over the last year. Read more

Venezuela remains one of Guyana’s biggest rice buyers, despite no PetroCaribe deal

Demerara Waves: Venezuela is Guyana’s biggest rice market, accounting for 34 percent or 177,682 tonnes of all that grain exported to several Latin American countries the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) said in a statement. Read more

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Oil rises as US-Iran conflict eases, focus turns to trade deal

CNBC: Oil prices rose slightly on Monday as investors shift their focus away from easing Mideast tensions to this week’s scheduled signing of an initial U.S.-China trade deal which could boost economic growth and demand. Read more

Brexit: MPs give final backing to Withdrawal Agreement Bill

BBC: MPs have given their final backing to the bill that will implement the UK government’s Brexit deal. The Commons voted 330 to 231 in favour of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill and it will now pass to the House of Lords for further scrutiny next week. Read more

Grassley pins blame for USMCA holdup on impeachment

Politico: Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley on Friday blamed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for holding up passage of the new North American trade pact after she held off sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate. Read more

IMO 2020: New Shipping Fuel Requirements Enter Into Force

Hellenic shipping news: January 1, 2020 marked the implementation of the new sulphur oxide limit for shipping fuel imposed by the International Maritime Organisation under the MARPOL Convention, often referred to as IMO 2020. Read more

US-China Trade War Seen as Boosting Vietnam Growth

VoA: Vietnam has been a beneficiary of the China-U.S. trade war, enjoying a boost in services and exports that should drive economic growth to 7% this year, HSBC economist Yun Liu said last week. But she said the country remains vulnerable to economic risks including trade protection and inflation. Read more

Brexit: EU ‘won’t be rushed’ on trade deal, says Simon Coveney

BBC: The EU “will not be rushed” on a trade deal with the UK after Brexit, according to Ireland’s deputy PM. Boris Johnson says a deal can be agreed by the end of 2020 and has included a pledge in his Brexit bill not to extend any transition period to secure one. Read more

Europe, Scotland and Brexit – what next?

EU Observer: Last month’s UK general election will undoubtedly be remembered for the Conservative Party’s historic victory and the long-awaited clarity on Brexit. Yet the vote was not uniform across the UK. In Scotland, the Scottish National Party (SNP) secured an even more emphatic result, taking 47 of the nation’s 59 Westminster seats. Read more

Here’s how the WTO can help address plastic pollution

World Economic Forum: Trade plays a central role in plastic pollution and in the global plastics economy. Amid impressive and multiplying efforts across the globe to address plastic pollution, however, the relevance of trade to the production, consumption and disposal of plastics has been underestimated. Read more

What to Expect in the January 2020 Session of UNCITRAL Working Group III on ISDS Reform

IISD: In January 2020, Working Group III (WG III) of UNCITRAL will convene in Vienna to work on possible ISDS reform. Read more

STRAIGHT FROM THE WTO

NEW ON THE CTLD BLOG

The Caribbean Trade & Development Digest is a weekly trade news digest produced and 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 subscribe to our Blog below: