Welcome to the Caribbean Trade & Development News Digest for the week of March 8-14, 2020! 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

The COVID-19 outbreak has this week been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation. Globally, reported infections are now over 150,000 with deaths at nearly 6,000. The outbreak continues to have a negative impact on stock markets, commodities prices and global supply chains. Businesses worldwide have begun restricting employees’ travel and implementing work from home policies.

According to an UNCTAD report published this week, the outbreak could cause global foreign direct investment (FDI) to shrink by 5%-15%.

World services trade growth continued to weaken toward the end of 2019 and into the first quarter of 2020 according to the World Trade Organisation’s Services Trade Barometer, released on 11 March 2020. The indicator does not yet fully capture the economic impact of the COVID-19 virus and is likely to decline further in the coming months, according to the WTO.

The WTO became one of several organisations which has cancelled all meetings in light of COVID-19. The Government of Kazakhstan has cancelled the WTO’s Ministerial Conference that was scheduled to be held there June 8-11 in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the Caribbean, several English-speaking Caribbean countries have now announced cases. This is in addition to several other non-English speaking Caribbean countries which reported cases earlier.

See my articles on : The possible economic and trade impacts of COVID-19 on the Caribbean here and on small businesses/MSMEs here.

REGIONAL NEWS

‘More trade coming’ with Suriname

Barbados Today: With expected disruptions in global trade as a result of the COVID-19, Government officials are working around the clock to ensure that new opportunities are in place for Barbados to source some items from the region. Read more

A WTO Investment Facilitation Agreement: Any added value for the Caribbean?

Guyana Chronicle: With regional governments already undertaking reforms, would a WTO Multilateral Investment Facilitation for Development Agreement add value for the Caribbean or would the legal burdens of signing a multilateral agreement outweigh any potential benefits? Should the Caribbean seize this opportunity to be among the rule-makers in an area of development-interest to the region or should we sit this one out? Read more

American firms, US revive ‘AmCham’ biz body

Barbados Today: American business figures are seeking to re-establish a link with firms here and throughout the Eastern Caribbean in a bid to leverage new exports to the region. Read more

All cruise lines cancel cruises over the next 30-60 days

Barbados Today: Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) has announced that all member ocean cruise lines are pausing sailings over the next 30-60 days. For most cruise lines, the cancellations will span the next 30 days. Read more

Coronavirus shuts down Guyana-Suriname ferry crossing

Demerara Waves: The Guyana-Suriname ferry service has suspended operations because that neighbouring country on Friday registered its first case of the novel coronavirus. Read more

Barbados hosts successful consultations on CARICOM Strategic Plan

Barbados Advocate: National consultations held in Barbados this week to help map the way forward for the results-focused new ten-year Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Strategic Plan, have been described as “rich and fruitful”. Read more

Implementation of the Extended Article 164 Regime of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas

St Lucia News Online: The Ministry of Commerce, International Trade, Investment, Enterprise Development and Consumer Affairs wishes to advise members of the general public of the impending implementation of a CARICOM wide initiative to enable the growth and development of the Less Developed Countries of CARICOM. Read more

How will COVID-19 affect the economies of Latin America and the Caribbean?

UNDP: The COVID-19 outbreak is a new potential source of volatility and a threat to the macroeconomic stability of Latin America and the Caribbean. While it is still too early to fully understand its impact on China’s growth, and how it will result in a slowdown in our region, what we know so far is that COVID-19 is spreading at an accelerated rate and has caused a disruption to China’s economy. Read more

Belize and Florida continue to strengthen Bilateral Trade and Investment relationship

Breaking Belize News: Тhе Веlіzе Тrаdе аnd Іnvеѕtmеnt Dеvеlорmеnt Ѕеrvісе (ВЕLТRАІDЕ), а ѕtаtutоrу bоdу undеr thе Міnіѕtrу оf Есоnоmіс Dеvеlорmеnt, Реtrоlеum, Іnvеѕtmеnt, Тrаdе аnd Соmmеrсе оf thе Gоvеrnmеnt оf Веlіzе (GОВ), wеrе hоѕtеd аt а twо-dау оutbоund Веlіzе Вuѕіnеѕѕ Міѕѕіоn іn Таllаhаѕѕее, Flоrіdа UЅА. Read more

Jamaican businesses seek spin-offs from booming Guyanese economy

Jamaica Observer: The massive oil discovery in Guyana will have a dramatic effect on driving its developing economy, with a growth rate of 85 per cent recently predicted by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Read more

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Coronavirus could shrink global FDI by 5% to 15%

UNCTAD: The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak could cause global foreign direct investment (FDI) to shrink by 5%-15%, according to an UNCTAD report published on 8 March. Read more

Global Diplomacy Grinds to a Halt on Infection Fears

Foreign Policy: One by one, the U.N., WTO, and other major international players are canceling regular gatherings. Read more

COVID-19 Survey: Impacts on Global Supply Chains

Business Facilities: Nearly 75 percent of companies report supply chain disruptions in some capacity due to coronavirus-related transportation restrictions, according to the newly released results of a survey focused on coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) business and supply chain impacts. Read more

Coronavirus: US travel ban on 26 European countries comes into force

BBC: President Donald Trump’s travel ban on 26 European nations has come into force in the US, as part of a contingency plan to tackle the coronavirus crisis. Read more

COVID-19-hit Iran asks IMF for aid amid US sanctions

Deutsche Welle: For the first time in six decades, Iran has requested a loan from the IMF to fight the coronavirus outbreak. US sanctions have isolated the country from the global financial system. They could also stop IMF assistance. Read more

Brexit: coronavirus sparks calls to extend EU transition period

The Guardian: Britain and the EU are facing calls to back away from a “game of chicken” and extend the Brexit transition period immediately, as both respond to the coronavirus pandemic. Read more

Brexit: EU drafts trade deal ahead of talks with UK

BBC: The EU has drafted a post-Brexit trade deal proposal, covering areas such as security, foreign policy and fisheries. The 441-page draft legal text, seen by the BBC, was sent to the 27 EU states on Thursday night, ahead of being presented to the UK next week. Read more

African Free-Trade Deal on Track Despite Coronavirus

Bloomberg: The coronavirus pandemic is unlikely to scupper a July 1 target for the first commerce under an African-wide free-trade deal, even if meetings to iron out details are being canceled, according to the zone’s most senior official. Read more

Global business travel could suffer $820bn virus hit, says group

Al Jazeera: The global spread of the coronavirus is increasingly affecting business travelers, an industry body said. Read more

STRAIGHT FROM THE WTO

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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: