Category Archives: news

The Trump Presidency – Implications and Opportunities for Caribbean IFCs

Alicia Nicholls

On March 31, 2017 I was a panellist representing FRANHENDY ATTORNEYS at the Barbados International Business Association (BIBA) Barbados International Business Forum 2017 entitled “Is the Barbados International Business Sector Under Attack?” held at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre in Barbados.

I was on the second panel which discussed the topic “The Trump Presidency – Implications and Opportunities for IFCs“. My esteemed fellow panellists were Jeremy Stephen, Economist and UWI Lecturer, Lisa Cummins, Executive Director of UWIConsulting and Cadian Dummond, Attorney at Law. The discussion was expertly moderated by Melanie Jones, Partner at Lex Caribbean Attorneys-At-Law.

I spoke to the possible implications of the Trump Presidency in regards to de-risking, FATCA and visa restrictions.

For those who missed the panel discussion and have expressed interest in my remarks, please find a copy of same in powerpoint form here. Enjoy!

For more on past presentations I have done, please see news and announcements.

Alicia Nicholls, B.Sc., M.Sc., LL.B., is a trade and development consultant with a keen interest in sustainable development, international law and trade. You can also read more of her commentaries and follow her on Twitter @LicyLaw.

 

 

Advertisements

“What’s Next for NAFTA?” FITT Trade Elite Chat Recap

Alicia Nicholls

Last Thursday I was a panellist for the Forum for International Trade Training’s (FITT) Trade Elite Twitter Chat on “What’s Next for NAFTA” – the North American Free Trade Agreement which comprises the United States (US), Canada and Mexico.

My fellow panellists were Horacio Lopez-Portillo, a Partner at Vazquez, Tercero and Zepeda in Mexico City,  John Boscariol, Partner and leader of the International Trade and Investment Law Group at McCarthy Tetrault LLP in Toronto, Joy Nott, the President and CEO of the Canadian Association of Importers and Exporters (I.E. Canada) in Toronto and  Paola Viviana Murillo, the Founder and Director of Latincouver. The moderator was Jon Yormick, Special Counsel for Phillips Lytle LLP.

The topic is timely in light of new US President Donald Trump’s sustained criticism of NAFTA and his call for a renegotiation of the over two-decades old agreement. The discussion focused on issues surrounding the strengths and weaknesses of NAFTA in its current dispensation, whether there was the need for a NAFTA 2.0, whether other more modern free trade agreements like the recently concluded EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) could serve as useful models for a NAFTA 2.0,how  issues such as e-commerce, labour, services and the environment should be addressed, and how much blame should really be placed on NAFTA for job losses.

Please feel free to read FITT’s recap of the robust discussion on their website here. Further information on FITT’s past and upcoming Tradeelite Chats can also be found in the FITT website at the previous link.

Alicia Nicholls, B.Sc., M.Sc., LL.B., is a trade and development consultant with a keen interest in sustainable development, international law and trade. You can also read more of her commentaries and follow her on Twitter @LicyLaw.

Caribbean Trade & Development Digest – November 20-December 3, 2016

Photo source: Pixabay

Caribbean Trade Law & Development is pleased to share some of the major trade and development headlines and analysis across the Caribbean region and the World for the weeks of November 20-December 3, 2016. 

For past issues of our weekly Caribbean Trade & Development Digest, please visit here.

To receive these mailings directly to your inbox, please follow our blog.

REGIONAL

Belize Senate criticises Belize-Guyana Trade Pact

7 News Belize: One of the motions which we didn’t get a chance to tell you about, was a resolution tabled by the Government. It authorizes the Barrow Administration to ratify a Framework agreement between the Governments of Belize and Guyana for bilateral cooperation.Read more

IDB Loan will support economic developent and foreign trade in Guyana

Caribbean News Now: Guyana will improve its public infrastructure and promote economic diversification and foreign trade with a US$9 million Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) loan that will help strengthen the economy and stimulate exports and investments. Read more

Guyana seeking to register Demarara as Geographical Indication

Stabroek: The Commercial Registry here has received applications for Demerara Sugar, Demerara Molasses and Demerara Rum. Minister of Foreign Affairs Carl Greenidge said that recapturing the name provides opportunities for producers to obtain market recognition. Read more

ExporTT Chairman: T&T must improve trade with EU

Trinidad Guardian: Incoming chairman of ExporTT Ashmeer Mohammed said the agency is committed to improving trade with the European Union (EU) and arresting the current decline in trade between T&T and the EU. Read more

Region’s exports fall five percent

Trinidad Guardian: The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean’s (Eclac) annual report Latin America and the Caribbean in the World Economy 2016 shows that the foreign trade dynamics of the region are having their worst performance in eight decades. Read more

Illicit Cigarette Trade Booming

LoopJamaica: The illicit cigarette trade now accounts for a fifth of the local market, according to cigarette distributor Carreras Limited. Read more

Entities partner to grow exports

JIS: Four private- and public-sector bodies have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU), agreeing to work together to grow national exports to US$2.5 billion by 2020. Read more

Belize and Jamaica squash “beef” over patties

Breaking Belize News: On November 17, Jamaica’s Minister of Industry, Karl Samuda successfully met with Minister of Trade and Commerce, Tracey Panton, in Guyana during the 43rd meeting of CARICOM’s Council for Trade and Development. Read more

Jamaica, EU discuss moving EPA to full implementation

Jamaica Observer: Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Kamina Johnson Smith, in highlighting the concerns of the Jamaica’s private sector about the challenges faced in accessing the European Union markets, said that Jamaica’s strength and advantages in its services sectors would be greatly unlocked if there was a special visa regime between CARIFORUM and European Union (EU) countries. Read more

Kenya: President Roots for Increased Trade between Kenya, Latin America & the Caribbean

allAfrica: President Uhuru Kenyatta has called for increased trade between Kenya, the Latin America and Caribbean regions.Read more

INTERNATIONAL

Maersk Line to Acquire Hamburg Süd

Maersk Line: Maersk Line and the Oetker Group have reached an agreement for Maersk Line to acquire Hamburg Süd, the German container shipping line. The acquisition is subject to final agreement and regulatory approvals. Read more

OPEC Reaches Oil Output Reduction Agreement

Global Trade Magazine: The thirteen members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) meeting in Vienna, reached an agreement yesterday to reduce oil output by 1.2 million barrels a day beginning next month. Read more

China says its will promote trade deals regardless of TPP, RCEP Direction

Reuters: China said it will actively participate in bilateral and multilateral trade deals, with the goal of deepening reform and opening up its economy, regardless of the direction the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) or the China-backed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) might take. Read more

Singapore leads global trade ranking for the fifth time

SBR:  Its domestic market is rated as world’s most open.Singapore topped the Global Enabling Trade Report 2016 once again.  Read more

EU-Georgia Free Trade Deal Boosting Trade Flows

Tax News: Trade flows between Georgia and the EU increased 16 percent in 2015, the first full year since the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) was provisionally applied.The EU-Georgia Association Agreement, which includes a DCFTA, was provisionally applied from September 2014. It fully entered into force on July 1, 2016. Read more

Sanders to introduce US ‘Outsourcing Tax’ Legislation

Tax News: US Senator Bernie Sanders has stated his intention to introduce legislation into Congress that would impose an “outsourcing tax” on companies moving jobs out of the United States, as well as stripping them of their US tax breaks and benefits. Read more

China urges U.S. to abide by WTO anti-dumping agreement

Reuters: China on Friday urged the United States to abandon a surrogate country approach it uses to calculate anti-dumping measures against Chinese exports, as a related clause in China’s World Trade Organization (WTO) deal is set to expire. Read more

MEPs reject call for Court Review of CETA

Tax News: The European Parliament has rejected a request by 89 Members of European Parliament to refer the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement to the European Court of Justice for an opinion.  Read more

China, New Zealand To Upgrade FTA

Tax News: The launch of negotiations to upgrade the existing China-New Zealand free trade agreement (FTA) was announced on November 21, following a meeting between Chinese Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng and New Zealand’s Trade Minister Todd McClay at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Lima. Read more

Next Round of RCEP Negotiations in Jakarta Dec 5

Economic Times: The single-tier system of duty relaxation under the proposed mega trade deal RCEP will be the central issue to be discussed at the next round of negotiations of 16 countries, including India and China, in Jakarta from December 5. Read more

WTO chief says no indication Trump wants to take US out of WTO

Reuters: World Trade Organization chief Roberto Azevedo said on Thursday he had no indication that U.S. President-elect Donald Trump wanted to withdraw the United States from the global trading body. Read more

NEW ON CARIBBEAN TRADE LAW & DEVELOPMENT

President-elect Trump’s trade team takes shape: What implications for the Caribbean?

Happy Independence! Tribute to Barbados at 50

Dominica Ratifies WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement

WTO Panel Rules Tax Incentive to Boeing a Prohibited Subsidy

Fidel Castro; Friend to the Caribbean & Anti-Imperialist Hero

TPP: Trump to withdraw from the Agreement on Day One

For past issues of our Caribbean & Trade Development Digest, please visit here. To receive these mailings directly to your inbox, please follow our blog.

 

FATF congratulates Guyana on AML/CFT Improvements

Alicia Nicholls

At its recently held plenary session on October 19-21, 2016, the Paris-based Financial Action Taskforce (FATF) congratulated Guyana on the “significant progress” the country has made in addressing the deficiencies in its framework for anti-money laundering/combatting the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT).

Background

Since its establishment in 1989, FATF has sought to protect the integrity of the global financial system from threats posed by money-laundering (ML), terrorist financing (TF) and the financing of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Its main role is setting and promoting standards on these areas and its 40 plus 9 Recommendations are the international standards for AML/CFT and the financing of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. FATF’s work is complemented by the nine FATF-style regional bodies, including the 27-member Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF), of which Guyana has been a member since 2002.

The AML/CFT Mutual Evaluation is a peer review process to evaluate each member country’s level of compliance with FATF’s Recommendations. These reviews are concerned not just with the jurisdiction’s technical compliance with the recommendations but also now with the effectiveness of the country’s AML/CFT systems.

CFATF was very critical of Guyana’s technical compliance with the FATF recommendations in its third round Mutual Evaluation report dated July 2011. Inter alia, the reviewers had highlighted several deficiencies in the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering of the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Act 2009, the  lack of statistics, staffing shortages and limited staff training. As a result, the country was placed on expedited follow-up and required to report every Plenary. Due to internal political wrangling over the proposed bill’s content, for many sittings Guyana’s legislature could not pass the proposed amended AML legislation.

This inaction, however, had several negative consequences. Starting in May 2013, CFATF had named Guyana among its list of jurisdictions with strategic AML/CFT deficiencies that had not made sufficient progress in addressing them and had warned that if Guyana did not take specific steps by November 2013, not only would it call upon its members to consider implementing counter measures to protect their financial systems from the ongoing ML/TF risks emanating from Guyana but would consider referring the country to the FATF International Cooperation Review Group (ICRG) which analyses the AML/CFT threats from high-risk jurisdictions.

After Guyana had failed to meet the agreed timelines in the action plan, the regional watch body followed through on its threat in its public statement released May 2014 in which it called on its Members to “consider implementing further counter measures to protect their financial systems from the ongoing money laundering and terrorist financing risks emanating from Guyana”.

That language may sound extreme to the reader considering that Guyana is not an international financial centre and any AML/CFT lapse is unlikely to cause even a ripple in the global financial system. Regulatory costs are burdensome for cash-strapped small states which often lack the financial resources and the human resource capacity to meet all the requirements. What little technical assistance is given is often not adequate. As countries which are not members of FATF Caribbean countries also have little say in the regulatory framework or agenda which are often slanted towards the interests of advanced economies.

However, these important inequities aside, a sound AML/CFT framework is important for countries, especially those with porous borders and which are dependent on foreign investment and foreign trade. Having a reputation for a deficient AML/CFT framework could make it difficult for an FDI-dependent country to attract new investment as some parent companies may prohibit the establishment of subsidiaries in a country with a deficient AML/CFT regime. It also increases the country’s risk profile which would make financial transactions and relationships with businesses and persons in that country subject to enhanced due diligence due to the higher level of perceived risk, increasing the chances of its local banks losing their foreign correspondent banking relationships and  thereby restricting its access to the global trade and financial systems.

Guyana’s progress to date

Since coming to power in 2014, the new government in Guyana has been able to implement several reforms to improve the country’s level of compliance with FATF recommendations. These changes have been well-documented in this article by Anand Goolsooran. However, some of those identified in CFATF’s 10th Follow Up Report released June 2016 include the passing of the AML/CFT (Amendment) No.2 Act 2015 in January 2016 and  of the AML/CFT (Amendment) Act No. 15 of 2016 in May 2016 and the issuance of AML/CFT Directives and Guidelines.

As a result, the CFATF assessors concluded as follows:

Guyana has significantly improved its overall level of compliance and most importantly Guyana has fully addressed the core and key Recommendations. While Guyana satisfies the criteria for application to exit the follow-up process, it is still in the FATF ICRG process which it needs to complete first. As such it is recommended that Guyana stay in enhanced follow-up and be required to report on continuing implementation to the next Plenary in November 2016

In mid-September 2016, the visiting FATF/ICRG delegation praised Guyana’s progress towards bringing its framework in compliance with FATF recommendations.  As of October 2016, Guyana is no longer subject to FATF’s on-going global AML/CFT compliance process.  Guyana will continue to work with CFATF to address the outstanding issues with the goal to exit the CFATF follow-up process.

The outcomes of the FATF October 2016 Plenary session may be viewed here.

Alicia Nicholls, B.Sc., M.Sc., LL.B. is a trade and development consultant with a keen interest in sustainable development, international law and trade. You can also read more of her commentaries and follow her on Twitter @LicyLaw.

Belize accepts TRIPS Amendment

Alicia Nicholls

Belize has become the latest member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to accept the amendment to the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) which seeks to improve poorer members’ access to affordable medicines.

This  amendment to the TRIPS Agreement formalises and makes permanent the waiver provided by paragraph 6 of the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health, known as the “Paragraph 6 System” in 2003. The amendment was approved by the WTO General Council on December 6, 2005, and permits exporting countries to grant compulsory licenses for the manufacture and export of pharmaceutical products to poorer countries.

The protocol is not yet in force and will only enter into force upon acceptance by two-thirds of the WTO’s membership. The original deadline for acceptance was December 1, 2007 but has been extended to December 31  2017 by the General Council in November 2015.

So far the following CARICOM countries have accepted the amendment: Grenada (2015), St. Kitts & Nevis (2015), St. Lucia (2016), Trinidad & Tobago (2013).

More from the WTO’s press release here.

Alicia Nicholls, B.Sc., M.Sc., LL.B. is a trade and development consultant with a keen interest in sustainable development, international law and trade. You can also read more of her commentaries and follow her on Twitter @LicyLaw.

WTO launches its new World Trade Statistical Review

Alicia Nicholls

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) launched its new annual flagship statistical publication, the World Trade Statistical Review yesterday. According to the WTO’s press release, this new report replaces the WTO’s previous annual statistical publication, International Trade Statistics, which was published each October. The new report will be published online in July each year and a printed report will be available from September.

In his foreword to the report, Director-General of the WTO, Roberto Azevedo notes that “[t]he new structure of the publication allows for more comprehensive information about trade and trade policy developments to be provided, and in a more timely way.”

In addition to statistical compilations, this current report includes a discussion on trends in global trade over the past 10 years, discussions on merchandise trade and commercial services, global and regional trading patterns. An addition is the detailed analysis of developing countries’ participation in global trade, including Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

Among its findings are that the value of both global merchandise and commercial services trade are nearly two-times greater in 2015 than in 2005 but declined in 2015 compared to 2014. Although developing country merchandise trade declined in 2015, their commercial services exports saw a robust increase. The report also mentions the increase in the overall stockpile of restrictive measures, including trade remedies, introduced by WTO members in 2015.

The WTO’s press release may be viewed here.

The full report may be accessed here.

Alicia Nicholls, B.Sc., M.Sc., LL.B. is a trade and development consultant with a keen interest in sustainable development, international law and trade. You can also read more of her commentaries and follow her on Twitter @LicyLaw.

De-risking and its Foreign Trade Impact in the Caribbean

Alicia Nicholls

A few weeks ago I had the honour and pleasure of presenting on the Foreign Trade Impact of De-Risking at the Institute of Chartered Accountants’ (ICAC) 34th Annual Conference in beautiful Belize as part of a panel discussion along with Dr. Trevor Brathwaite, Deputy Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) and Mr. Filippo Alario, Chief Risk Officer of Belize Bank.

Alicia Nicholls ICAC 2016 Belize

Alicia Nicholls  at ICAC 2016 Photo compliments of R Mohammed

I wish to again express my gratitude to ICAC for the invitation and to all stakeholders and everyone who kindly provided me with information and assisted me in my research.

Some of the key points from the presentation were as follows:

  • De-risking is a business decision but with serious implications for Caribbean foreign trade.
  • As small open economies, Caribbean countries are highly dependent on foreign trade as evidenced by their high trade to GDP ratios which range between 70-130% of GDP, according to World Bank data.
  • Several Caribbean countries are among the most dependent in the world on remittance-inflows.
  • Bank de-risking threatens the region’s integration into the global trade and financial systems and has implications for economic growth, stability, employment.
  • Disruptions to remittance and FDI flows by de-risking also have poverty alleviation and sustainable development implications.
  • Cross-border payment for goods via wire transfer and remittance sending appear to be the most affected from a trade perspective.

Several persons  have written me requesting a copy of the full presentation. It is available below:

ICAC_Presentation_2016_ANicholls(1)

Alicia Nicholls, B.Sc., M.Sc., LL.B. is a trade and development consultant with a keen interest in sustainable development, international law and trade. You can also read more of her commentaries and follow her on Twitter @LicyLaw.

« Older Entries