June 10, 2023

Caribbean Trade and Development News Digest – January 31- February 6, 2021

Welcome to the Caribbean Trade and Development News Digest for the week of January 31-February 6, 2021! We are pleased to bring you the major trade and development news headlines and analysis from across the Caribbean Region and the world.


The new Biden-Harris administration has ended the US’ objection and thrown its support behind Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, clearing the way hopefully for her to become the next WTO Director-General. Read more here. This week as well President Biden made his first major speech outlining his administration’s approach to foreign policy. The full transcript may be read here.

Regionally, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) held the 89th Special Ministerial Meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) on February 4, 2021, via videoconference.

Prime Minister of Saint Lucia, the Honourable Allen Chastanet, led the Devex Session on Wednesday January 27th 2021 entitled “Catalyzing a new future: From Small Islands to Great Ocean States”. Watch the playback here.

Afronomics Law Symposium on RCEP

I am pleased to be one of the contributors to an upcoming Afronomics Law Symposium on the Regional Comprehension Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement convened by international law professor Dr. Md. Rizwanul Islam. The symposium features essays authored by an expert lineup of contributors on various aspects of the RCEP Agreement. Read more about the upcoming symposium and contributions here.


Foreign Minister represents Belize at CARICOM’s 89th Special Meeting

Breaking Belize News: Minister of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Immigration, Eamon Courtenay led Belize’s delegation at the 89th Special Ministerial Meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) on February 4, 2021, via videoconference. Read more

Fast-tracking Caribbean COVID-19 recovery and resilience

EU Reporter: COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc in 2021. The BBC has reported that as of 1 February 2021, more than 100 million people have been infected with the virus, 2.2 million people have died across nearly 200 countries. There are still over 382,000 new cases every day. Although both rich and poor countries have faced the full wrath of the pandemic, the difference is, the developed countries are buffered by their wealth enabling them to recover faster than anyone else, writes Deodat Maharaj. Read more

Guyana Gov’t terminates agreement for Taiwan office here

News Room: Less than a day after Taiwan announced the establishment of an investment office in Guyana, leading to questions over Guyana’s adherence to the One China Policy, the Guyana Government announced that it has terminated the agreement. Read more

The Strange Saga of Taiwan’s Short-Lived Office in Guyana

The Diplomat: The closing of the office was a classic example of how U.S.-China rivalry served to complicate what should have been an innocuous diplomatic agreement. Read more

Cuba and Uganda are looking for ways to increase economic ties

Sunday Vision: Deputy Prime Minister Ricardo Cabrisas Ruiz, Vice President of the Republic of Uganda, received His Excellency Dr. Mr. Edward Kiwanuka Sikandi who is on an official visit to our country. In a friendly atmosphere, the two leaders discussed the excellent state of bilateral relations and ways to increase economic relations and cooperation between the two countries. Read more


Informal Ministerial Highlights Role of Trade in Promoting COVID-19 Recovery

IISD: An informal World Trade Organization (WTO) ministerial gathering focused on trade policy challenges and priorities ahead of the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC12). Twenty-nine WTO members representing a wide range of trade policy interests discussed approaches to overcoming the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, proposals for facilitating trade and reducing trade barriers regarding medical goods, and environmental aspects of trade policy, among other issues. Read more

Washington says it’s ready to engage on WTO reform

Reuters: The United States is committed to “positive, constructive and active engagement” with all members of the World Trade Organization on reforming the body and is actively considering who to choose as its next chief, a U.S. official said on Friday. Read more

U.S. throws support behind Okonjo-Iweala to lead the WTO

Reuters: The United States on Friday threw its support behind Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to head the World Trade Organization after a South Korean rival withdrew. Read more

US-China trade war: phase one trade deal largely a ‘failure’, as purchases fall well short of targets

SCMP: China and the US signed their phase one trade deal in January 2020, with China committing to buy US$200 billion more goods and services over the next two years. Read more

US trade deficit with China has dropped since Donald Trump launched trade war

SCMP: The trade in goods deficit with China fell to US$310.8 billion in 2020, down from US$419.5 billion in 2018, when the tit-for-tat trade action started. Read more

Trade to be part of Biden’s China strategy, not driving force: ex-USTR official

Reuters: Trade will be a part of President Joe Biden’s overall negotiation policy with China, but it won’t be the driving force in Sino-U.S. relations, as it was under former President Donald Trump, a former official at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) said on Wednesday. Read more

White House says European trade tariff policy under review

Reuters: The United States’ European Union trade tariff policy is under review, the White House said on Friday. Read more

U.S. trade deficit jumps to 12-year high in 2020

Reuters: The United States’ trade deficit surged to its highest level in 12 years in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the flow of goods and services. Read more

Biden to keep tariffs on aluminum imports from UAE, reversing Trump

Reuters: U.S. President Joe Biden will maintain a tariff of 10% on aluminum imports from the United Arab Emirates, reversing Donald Trump’s move to end the levies on his last day as president, the White House said on Monday. Read more

Government hits back at claims Brexit is stifling exports to EU

Guardian: Whitehall rejects reports of 68% drop in goods exported and says freight flows at normal levels on some days. Read more

Exports from UK to EU down 68% since Brexit trade deal, say hauliers

Reuters: Exports from Britain to the European Union fell by 68% in January as trade was disrupted after the end of a transition period following Britain’s departure from the European Union, according to a trade body representing hauliers. Read more

From fashion to farming: how Brexit is hitting Britain’s trade

Guardian: Our writers analyse the true effects of the split, on industries including luxury clothing, music, fishing and bees. Read more

Canada prepping trade options in case EU breaks promise to keep vaccines flowing

CTV: Canada is putting together options to retaliate if Europe breaks its promise not to cut off Canada’s shipments of COVID-19 vaccines, though Europe appears to be keeping that promise at least for now. Read more

Statistics Canada says merchandise trade deficit narrowed to $1.7 billion in December

Yahoo News Canada: Statistics Canada says the country’s merchandise trade deficit narrowed to $1.7 billion in December, the smallest deficit since June, as energy exports rose. Read more

Canadian trade minister seeks closer ties, investments from Singapore manufacturers

The Straits Times: It is in the mutual interest of Singapore and Canada to grow their trade and economic relations while working together on strengthening a global rule-based trading system, said Ms Mary Ng, the Canadian Minister for Small Businesses, Export Promotion and International Trade. Read more

The India Africa Trade Council to Kickstart Bilateral Trade, Business Relations

India Briefing: On January 22, 2021 the India Africa Trade Council was inaugurated by Dr Tizita Mulugeta Yimam, Ambassador of Ethiopia in India and Nagma Mallick, Additional Secretary, Indian Foreign Service, (Africa) in order to boost India-Africa business and trade relations. Read more

African states to trade in local currencies under AfCFTA

Xinhua: Wamkele Mene, secretary-general of the AfCFTA Secretariat told journalists in Nairobi that the trading bloc is working with the African Export and Import Bank (Afreximbank) ) to establish a payment and settlement platform to eliminate the need for currency convertibility. Read more

African Continental Free Trade Area Completes First Month of Trading

IISD: The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) has wrapped up its first month of trading, having kicked off at the start of the new year. The nascent and wide-reaching trade area will be watched closely given its scope, size, and potential development impacts, along with what it means for existing regional communities and trading ties with other partners. Read more

AfCFTA is a lifeline for African economies – Uhuru

The Star: President Uhuru Kenyatta has said the success of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will assist the continent overcome some of its pressing economic challenges. Read more

AfCFTA Secretariat announces partnership to eradicate counterfeit, illicitly traded products

Xinhua: The Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) announced a partnership initiative that envisaged eradicating counterfeit and illicitly traded products from the continental free trade pact. Read more

Ghana-UK Joint Statement: Ghana-UK Trade Partnership Agreement

Gov.uk: Ghana-UK joint statement on a new interim Ghana-UK Trade Partnership Agreement. Read more

India, ASEAN Agree to Review FTA Scope, Address Uneven Market Access

ASEAN Briefing: Trade ministers from India and ASEAN agreed to start discussions on reviewing the scope of the ASEAN-India free trade agreement (AIFTA),10 years since it came into force, to make it simpler, facilitate more benefits for businesses, and streamline customs and regulatory procedures. Read more

‘For UK, deeper trade ties with India are an absolute priority’

Livemint: In the wake of Brexit, deeper trade relations with India are an absolute priority, says Elizabeth Truss, UK’s secretary of state for international trade and president of the board of trade. In India on a four-day visit for talks with her counterpart Piyush Goyal on an “enhanced trade partnership”, Truss said in an interview that India and the UK had agreed to set up working groups to make progress towards removing priority market access barriers. Read more

India, EU discuss re-initiating talks on bilateral free trade pact starting with interim agreement

Hindu Business Line: India and the EU have discussed holding regular interactions for re-initiation of the bilateral trade and investment agreement (India-EU BTIA) with an interim agreement, to start with, according to an official statement. Read more

Cambodia’s free trade pact talks with South Korea concluded

Khmer Times: Cambodia and South Korea have concluded their free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations and are now closer to the signing of a final pact later this year. Read more

France want “environmental and health standards” guarantees from Mercosur to sign the trade accord

Mercopress: Mercosur/European Union trade agreement signing delayed because of a demand from France for guarantees referred to as “environmental and health standards” from country members of the South American block. Read more

France ‘won’t sign this EU-Mercosur deal’

Euractiv: France “will not sign at this stage” the trade liberalisation agreement between the EU and Mercosur, the French foreign trade minister said on Thursday (4 February), adding he “expects guarantees” from the South American bloc on “environment and health standards. Read more

Portugal, Argentina vow to progress on EU-Mercosur agreement

Euractiv: Portugal and Argentina, which hold the presidencies of the EU Council and Mercosur, respectively, have agreed to make progress on the outstanding issues for the entry into force of the EU-Mercosur agreement, Argentina’s government has announced. Read more



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:


The Caribbean Trade Law and Development Blog is owned and was founded by Alicia Nicholls, B.Sc. (Hons), M.Sc. (Dist.), LL.B. (Hons), a Caribbean-based trade and development consultant. She writes and presents regularly on trade and development matters affecting the Caribbean and other small states. You can follow her on Twitter @LicyLaw. All views expressed on this Blog are Alicia's personal views and do NOT necessarily reflect the views of any institution or entity with which she may from time to time be affiliated.

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