Welcome to the Caribbean Trade & Development News Digest for the week of June 7-13, 2020! And a Happy Father’s Day to all readers who are fathers, fathers-to-be or father figures! 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 World Trade Organization’s beleaguered Appellate Body (AB) delivered its final reports in the cases brought by Honduras and the Dominican Republic in “Australia — Certain Measures Concerning Trademarks, Geographical Indications and Other Plain Packaging Requirements Applicable to Tobacco Products and Packaging” (DS435 and DS441). Read the AB summary and report here.

In the meantime, the race for the next WTO Director General is heating up as at least three WTO Members (Mexico, Egypt, Nigeria) have already nominated candidates to be a successor of incumbent Mr. Roberto Acevedo who announced last month that he would step down a year before his term expires.

New UNCTAD data published on 11 June show that merchandise trade fell by 5% in the first quarter of the year and point to a 27% drop for the second quarter and a 20% annual decline for 2020. Access the report here.

This week’s article by guest contributor Sandiford Edwards looks at building climate resilience in the Caribbean agricultural sector. Have a read here.

On a final editorial note, this publication announces its solidarity with the movements currently taking place across the US and the world for racial equality and justice #blacklivesmatter.

REGIONAL NEWS

CCJ Upholds COTED Decision on Cement Tariff Increase

CCJ: In a judgment released Wednesday, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) upheld the decision of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) to raise the tariff on “other hydraulic cement” imported into Barbados. Read more

Belize signs revised Georgetown agreement for Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States

Breaking Belize News: Belize officially signed the revised Georgetown Agreement today June 9, 2020 in Brussels, Belgium. Read more

“Major decline in imports, slight decline in exports,” says Statistical Institute of Belize

Breaking Belize News: Веlіzе’ѕ ехреndіturе оn іmроrtѕ drорреd bу оvеr 30 реrсеnt whіlе rеvеnuеѕ frоm ехроrtѕ wеrе dоwn bу 2.7 реrсеnt fоr thе mоnth оf Арrіl, ассоrdіng tо thе Ѕtаtіѕtісаl Іnѕtіtutе оf Веlіzе (ЅІВ). Read more

No hindrance to commercial exports — CLA

Jamaica Observer: The Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA) says licence holders are not hindered in their ability to export products from Jamaica due to the non-passage of import/export legislation. Read more

MICAF Celebrates Increase in Exports

JIS: A number of Jamaican companies are experiencing a rise in the exportation of their products amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries (MICAF) congratulates manufacturers and exporters who have seized the opportunities that have arisen. Read more

We are ready for regional exports — JMEA president

Jamaica Observer: The Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA) says based on the growing need for more exports across the Caribbean, the productive sector stands ready to supply outside markets and replace imports where necessary. Read more

UK aid to boost Caribbean trade

Jamaica Observer: A plan of action to support trade in several Caribbean states was launched last week. Read more

Economic Diplomacy Programme launched

Jamaica Observer: JAMAICA Promotions Corporation (Jampro) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade (MFAFT) have officially launched a new Economic Diplomacy Programme (EDP) aimed at aggressively promoting Jamaica as the ideal country for investment and trade opportunities. Read more

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

NZ signs first digital trade agreement

Stuff.co.nz: New Zealand has signed the first trade agreement to focus on issues solely relating to the digital economy. The Digital Economy Partnership Agreement (DEPA) with Chile and Singapore facilitates trade by encouraging paperless trading, e-invoicing and payments, and streamlined customs procedures for parcels. Read more

Singapore, Chile, NZ ink deal to boost digital economy cooperation

The Straits Times: Singapore, Chile and New Zealand have signed an agreement that will bolster cooperation on issues in the digital economy. Read more

Trade Minister ‘very disappointed’ with EU’s first offer on free trade deal

Radio New Zealand: The first formal offer on the table from the European Union on a free trade agreement is a far cry from what New Zealand wants, but talks will continue with both parties appearing willing to strike a deal. Read more

China Trade Surplus Surges to Record as Medical Exports Jump

Bloomberg: China’s trade surplus surged to a record in May as exports fell less than expected, helped by an increase in medical-related sales, and imports slumped along with commodity prices. Read more

China exports protective materials to 200 countries, regions: white paper

XinhuaNet: China exported protective materials to 200 countries and regions from March 1 to May 31 to help them fight against COVID-19, said a white paper released Sunday by China’s State Council Information Office. Read more

UK says intensified timetable for free trade talks agreed with EU

Reuters: Britain said it had agreed an intensified timetable for free trade negotiations with the European Union in July as both sides try to strike an agreement by the end of the year. Read more

UK Statement to the WTO Council for Trade in Goods – Item 9

Gov.uk: The UK’s Ambassador to the WTO and UN in Geneva, Julian Braithwaite, delivered this statement at a meeting of the WTO’s Council for Trade in Goods on 10 June 2020. Read more

Factbox: Who’s bidding to be next World Trade Organization chief?

Reuters: The World Trade Organization (WTO) began the process on Monday of selecting a new director-general to replace Brazil’s Roberto Azevedo, who is stepping down a year early at the end of August. Read more

WTO accepts nomination of Okonjo-Iweala as DG despite opposition from Egypt

Nairametrics: WTO has acknowledged the nomination of Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, as one of the candidates for the position of the DG of the organization. Read more

Hogan’s Run: Could Ireland’s Commissioner get the top WTO job?

RTE: If Phil Hogan does confirm his candidacy to be head of the World Trade Organisation it will have ramifications for an incoming Irish government, which will have to send a new commissioner to Brussels, and for the new European Commission, which only formally took office on 1 December. Read more

Brexit: Checks on EU imports to be phased-in amid coronavirus crisis

BBC: Checks on EU goods coming into the UK will be phased in next year to give firms “time to adjust”, as ministers formally ruled out extending the Brexit transition period beyond 31 December. Read more

Majority of Britons back Brexit extension to help beat coronavirus

Independent: A no-deal Brexit later this year during winter and amid coronavirus would be ‘a vicious, and avoidable, combination of risks’ says Health Foundation. Read more

Wamkele Mene: Africa is fully committed to AfCFTA despite delay to start date

African Business Magazine: The start of trading for the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) originally due to commence on 1 July 2020 has been delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but in this exclusive interview with Omar Ben Yedder and Stephen Williams, its newly elected secretary-general, Wamkele Mene, stresses that the continent is still fully committed to the AfCFTA, a critical component of Africa’s recovery strategy. Read more

How will COVID-19 impact Africa’s trade and market opportunities?

World Bank: The COVID-19 pandemic is expected to hit African economies extremely hard. According to the World Bank biannual Africa’s Pulse report, as a result of the pandemic, economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa will decline from 2.4% in 2019 to between -2.1% and -5.1% in 2020, depending on the success of measures taken to mitigate the pandemic’s effects. This means that the region will experience its first recession in 25 years. Read more

Africa free trade zone could launch on Jan 1, says official

Reuters: The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) could begin operating on January 1 next year, after the COVID-19 pandemic made its original launch date untenable, the official charged with overseeing the bloc’s establishment said on Thursday. Read more

Thailand to consider membership of trans-Pacific trade partnership

Reuters: Thailand has set up a committee to consider by mid-July whether the country should join a trans-Pacific free-trade agreement, as opposition parties and some business groups say membership could harm the farm and healthcare sectors. Read more

India not ready to take up RCEP’s ‘flexible’ offer

Hindu Business Line: India is not ready to respond any time soon to the offer made by the 15-member Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) to rejoin the free trade negotiations on much easier terms than before, especially as its industry and farmers are struggling to cope with the Covid-19 crisis, according to officials. Read more

UK to start post-Brexit trade talks with Japan

BBC: The UK and Japan are set to begin talks on Tuesday aimed at reaching agreement on a post-Brexit trade deal. Read more

UK seeks swift Japan trade deal and TPP membership

Nikkei Asian Review: The U.K. is looking to accelerate trade deals with countries and blocs across Asia, as the country’s transition period for departure from the European Union is set to expire at the end of the year. Read more

Vietnam ratifies free trade deal with EU

Euractiv: Vietnam ratified a free trade agreement with the European Union on Monday (8 June) that will cut or eliminate 99% of tariffs on goods traded between the Southeast Asian country and the bloc, and provide Vietnam with a much-needed post pandemic boost. Read more

Commonwealth leaders reject automatic second term for Baroness Scotland

BBC: Commonwealth governments have rejected a fresh attempt to give the organisation’s secretary-general Baroness Scotland an automatic second term of office. 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: