Welcome to the Caribbean Trade & Development News Digest for the week of April 26 – May 2, 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

A possible flattening of the COVID-19 curve in Caribbean? After weeks of shutdowns in most Caribbean countries, some countries are experiencing a slowdown in the new COVID-19 cases and have cautiously embarked on phased re-opening. However, ECLAC has projected the pandemic to lead to the ‘biggest economic contraction’ in Latin America and Caribbean history. Read my article on this here.

In multilateral trade news, the Multi-party interim appeal arbitration arrangement (MPIA) has been notified to the WTO General Council. The Agreement is a temporary workaround by a group of WTO members to preserve the two-tier dispute settlement system following the demise of the Appellate Body in December 2019. The notification document may be accessed here.

The EU and Mexico have concluded negotiations for a new trade agreement. Read more here.

My interview with UWITV’s Devaron Bruce on contemporary Caribbean trade issues begun airing this week. If you have access to the UWITV channel as part of your cable subscription, please feel free to check it out!

REGIONAL NEWS

Dominican exporters ask Senate to pass ambitious free trade pact

Dominican Today: Dominican Exporters Association (Adoexpo) president, Luis Concepción on Wed. asked the Senate to ratify the free trade agreement between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and the members of the Caribbean Forum of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (Cariforum), before 31 December, the date that the benefits granted by that nation under the agreement of the Dominican Republic and the European Union will be repealed. Read more

BVI to begin exporting fish to the region

BVI News: Premier Andrew Fahie has said government has started plans to export fish regionally. Speaking in the House of Assembly recently, Premier Fahie said the export initiative will seek to boost the fishing industry in the British Virgin Islands. Read more

Beans and banana revenues contribute to the first export increase of 2020

Breaking Belize News: Whіlе Веlіzе’ѕ ехроrtѕ wеrе dоwn fоr thе fіrѕt twо mоnthѕ оf 2020, thе Ѕtаtіѕtісаl Іnѕtіtutе оf Веlіzе (ЅІВ) rероrtѕ thаt thе mоnth оf Маrсh ѕаw аn іnсrеаѕе оf 2.6 реrсеnt duе lаrgеlу tо іnсrеаѕеd ѕаlеѕ оf rеd kіdnеу bеаnѕ аnd bаnаnаѕ. Read more

Borrowing Not an Option for Caribbean Countries; Access to Concessional Funding, Debt Relief Urgently Needed to Face COVID-19 Crisis

CARICOM: Prime Ministers, Premiers, Finance Ministers, Financial Secretaries, and other high-level government representatives from 15 Caribbean countries held yesterday a virtual meeting with ECLAC, heads of Caribbean regional organizations and representatives of other UN agencies in the subregion to discuss the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their economies, already besieged by both climatic and economic shocks, including heavy indebtedness and high exposure to natural disasters. Read more

COVID-19 and climate change: two sides of the same coin

Tristan Ward of Caribbean Climate Watch: For many people around the world, 2020 was intended to be a year of clearer vision and progress. However, months into this new decade, the world is at a standstill and its future remains largely uncertain due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Such uncertainty is compounded by the fact that the relationship between COVID-19 and other global challenges such as Climate Change is not inversely proportional. Read more

Caribbean states urged to step up exports

Loop Jamaica: Caribbean Export is urging Caribbean countries to step up on exports as a means of supporting local economies amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Read more

Realising untapped export potential

Jamaica Observer: President of Jamaica Promotions Corporation (Jampro) Diane Edwards says there is more than US$61 million in untapped international export opportunities across the main metropolitan markets for Jamaican businesses. Read more

JAMPRO supports Global Services Association efforts to protect BPO employees, industry during COVID-19

Jamaica Observer: Jamaica Promotions (JAMPRO) President, Diane Edwards, says the agency supports Global Services Association of Jamaica (GSAJ) efforts in working with operators in the industry to protect employees in the outsourcing sector and to prevent major long-term disturbances in services for the industry due to COVID-19. Read more

COVID-19 Pandemic and the Caribbean: Navigating Uncharted Waters

IMG Blog: As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread across the globe—bringing severe human and economic costs—the Caribbean is no exception. With over 1,000 confirmed cases, many countries have taken strong containment measures, such as border closures and lockdowns, to “flatten the curve.” Read more

The Caribbean could face a potential shortage in meat protein

Loop Cayman: According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, the Caribbean imported $220.2 million US dollars worth of meat and poultry, representing 5 per cent of all agricultural imports into the Caribbean in 2011. Red meat and poultry accounted for 39 per cent of US exports to the Caribbean of consumer-oriented products in 2011 (USDA). Read more

IMF sees Caribbean economy shrinking 6.2% in 2020 due to pandemic

Reuters: A sudden stop in tourism caused by border closures and lockdowns aimed at containing the coronavirus pandemic will cause a 6.2% contraction of the Caribbean economy in 2020, the deepest recession in over half a century, the IMF said on Wednesday. Read more

Rice production so far unaffected by COVID-19 – GRDB

Stabroek: The Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) has expressed confidence that rice production this year would be “excellent” despite the novel coronavirus pandemic fallout and assures that that there will be adequate supplies for local, regional, and extra-regional markets. Read more

SM Jaleel cuts wages, work hours as COVID hits exports

Trinidad Guardian: Soft drink manufacturer SM Jaleel has reduced the salaries and hours of work of some employees at its plant at the Otaheite Industrial Estate in South Oropouche as it makes adjustments during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more

First Tobago enterprise to secure grant for business expansion

Trinidad Guardian: J Mac Industries Limited is the first Tobago company to receive funding from Government’s Grant Fund Facility (GFF). Entrepreneurs, Mr. Edward Jones and Ms. Glewis Jones, Managing Directors of J Mac Industries Limited, received funding for their company’s business operations and export expansion. Read more

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Ten-point plan to bolster global transport, ease trade during COVID-19

UNCTAD: UNCTAD issues an action plan to tear down barriers to trade and transport and ensure the free flow of goods, food and essential supplies. Read more

ICC and the World Customs Organization (WCO) have issued a joint statement calling for increased action on customs and trade facilitation to ensure an effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

ICC: In a joint statement, issued today, ICC Secretary General John W.H. Denton AO and WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya say effective trade facilitation – based on international standards – will play a central role in enabling business continuity and renewed economic growth. Read more

U.S. trade authorities keeping tabs on Canada’s coming changes to drug prices

CTV: The United States is keeping Canada on its “watch list” of countries where policies and practices could pose a threat to American intellectual property rights. Read more

Is the global trading system unravelling before our eyes? Here is where things stand

CBC Canada: The modern history of global trade is being written at warp speed, with a dizzying series of developments now testing the international trading system. Read more

S.Korea’s exports suffer worst slump in 11 years as pandemic shatters world trade

Financial Post: The coronavirus crisis sent South Korean exports plunging in April at their sharpest pace since the global financial crisis, signaling a bleak outlook for international trade as the pandemic paralyzes the world economy and shatters demand. Read more

Electronics lift ASEAN to China’s top trade partner in Q1

CGTN: In the first quarter of this year, ASEAN surpassed the EU to become China’s biggest trading partner, accounting for 15 percent of China’s trade in the first three months. Read more

Joint statement by WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo and WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

WHO: COVID-19 has rapidly progressed to become a global pandemic, causing unprecedented, far-reaching impact on the health, social and economic well-being of communities around the world. Read more

AfCFTA and the Upcoming Protocol on Investment: What Can Investors Expect?

Global Arbitration Review: In 2012, African states set out with the ambition to establish an unprecedented ‘Continental Free Trade Area’. Read more

E-Commerce protocol incorporated into AfCFTA phase III

Ghanaweb: Despite a potential delay regarding Phase I implementation of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the African Union Commission has incorporated an Electronic Commerce (e-commerce) protocol into the pan African trade agreement. Read more

India weighing RCEP’s fresh proposal to re-join talks

Hindu Business Line: India is considering a fresh proposal sent by the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) members, that include the ASEAN, China, South Korea and Japan, asking it to re-join the negotiations and also indicating that some of the terms laid down by the country when it quit the talks last year may be met, an official has said. Read more

How global trade will fare post-Covid

Hindu Business Line: Global supply chains supporting manufactured products in developed countries have taken deep roots over the last couple of decades, leveraging the lower cost of labour in China and other Asian countries. Read more

Fears Brexit talks could collapse in June but UK still optimistic

The Guardian: The UK is still optimistic about striking a trade deal with the EU but has warned that talks could collapse in June unless Brussels abandons its demands for a common fisheries policy and a level playing field, a source close to the UK’s negotiating team has said. Read more

The Pacific Aid For Trade Strategy (PAfTS 2020-2025) Development Partners’ Roundtable

Scoop NZ: The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and development partners are mobilising support for the Pacific Aid for Trade Strategy (PAfTS) 2020-2025. A consultative virtual teleconference roundtable with development partners was held on 22 April 2020 as an initial step. Read more

US Cuts to Thailand’s Free-Trade Benefits Take Effect

VoA: Thailand is set to lose duty-free access for $1.3 billion in exports to the U.S. market today, six months after Washington warned it would pull back on trade privileges unless the country committed to more labor rights reforms. Read more

Boris gives ‘green light’ for Brexit Britain to start formal US trade talks next week

Express UK: Britain is set to start trade talks with the US next week, according to reports. Read more

More flexible trade rules await Mercosur after Argentina pullout

Buenos Aires Times: Argentina’s controversial decision to pull out of new trade negotiations involving the Mercosur bloc is a move that could pave the way for the largest transformation of the regional trade grouping since its foundation 25 years ago. Read more

Uruguay and Argentina presidents discuss the future of Mercosur

Mercopress: Uruguayan president Luis Alberto Lacalle Pou and his Argentine peer, Alberto Fernandez held a half-hour video conference Tuesday mid-morning to address the recent decision by the current Argentine administration to freeze Mercosur free trade negotiations with potential new partners and instead concentrate efforts in overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic and its sanitary, social, economic and employment consequences. Read more

Russia Cuts Off Wheat, Other Grain Exports

VoA: The Russian Agriculture Ministry announced Sunday that it was suspending its export of most grains until July 1, seemingly ignoring warnings from international organizations who are asking countries not to disrupt global food supply chains during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Read more

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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: