Category Archives: Trade

SRC Lunch Time Chat on Special and Differential Treatment – Thurs, April 18, 2019

The Shridath Ramphal Centre for Trade Law, Policy & Services of the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill will be hosting a Lunch Time Chat entitled “Influencing the special and differential discussion at the WTO: What role for Small States?” on Thursday, April 18th from 12:00-2:30 pm.

The featured presenter will be Mr. Matthew Wilson, Chief of Staff and Chief Advisor to the Director of the International Trade Centre (ITC). The discussion will be moderated by the Deputy Director of the SRC, Dr. Jan Yves Remy.

Please see the below flyer for further details, including the Zoom link:

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Caribbean Trade & Development Digest – April 7 – 13, 2019

Welcome to the Caribbean Trade & Development Digest for the week of April 7-13, 2019! 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.

HIGHLIGHTS

In this week’s highlights, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) released a list of Products for Tariff Countermeasures in Response to Harm Caused by EU Aircraft Subsidies. In response, the EU has indicated it aims to put tariffs on $12 billion of US exports.

In Brexit news, the EU granted the Theresa May UK Government a six month extension to October 31, 2019. Read more here.

Trade was a major topic looming over the IMF/World Bank Spring Meetings held this week. The IMF released its April Outlook in which it noted a deceleration in global growth on the back of several factors, including rising trade tensions. Read the Outlook here. Also watch the panel discussion on “How Trade can promote growth for all” here.

The 12th Annual Update on WTO Dispute Settlement, which provided an overview and discussion on WTO dispute settlement cases and developments in 2018, was held this week. Watch the playback here!

REGIONAL NEWS

Trade between GCC, Latin America and the Caribbean hit $16.3b in 2018

Gulf News: Trade flows between GCC countries and Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) reached $16.3 billion (Dh59.86 billion) in 2018, while the UAE remained a top trading partner in the Gulf region for LAC countries, according to a new report conducted by Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in cooperation with the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Read more 

Consumer and Business Confidence Up in Jamaica

Caribbean360: Consumer and business confidence in the economy have recorded increases for the first quarter of 2019. Read more

Jamaica deepens ties with China

Jamaica Observer: The Government yesterday signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the People’s Republic of China on that country’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), to deepen cooperation and partnership between the two nations for economic development. Read more

Guatemala’s Fishing Trade Spells Trouble for Belize

The Reporter: An investigation into Guatemala’s thriving shark fishing industry reveals serious concerns for our country and fisherfolk. In February 2019, a team of investigative journalists from The Reporter traveled to southern Belize, then to Guatemala to evaluate the number and scope of sharks, fish and other marine species poached from Belizean waters and exported to Guatemala. Their findings were startling and it was discovered that this issue has deep roots. Read more 

The Dominican Republic opens plant species and variety registration office

Fresh Plaza: The Ministry of Agriculture opened the Plant Species and Varieties Registration Office (OREVADO), which seeks to guarantee the institutional framework for people who want to develop new varieties of vegetable crops, innovate in the transfer of technology or invest in production, i.e. breeders. Read more 

Dominican Republic leads Caribbean economies

Global Finance: The economy of the Dominican Republic is set to surpass its regional neighbors this year, notching the highest growth in the Caribbean region. The DR has been gaining attention for its ability to maintain steady robust economic growth. In 2018, GDP rose by 7%, and the latest report by the country’s central bank says all industries are expanding—and that its free-trade zones in particular are drawing investment. Read more

Atlantic International Bank maintains innocence in US Federal Trade Commission accusations but faces international ramifications

LoveFM: Atlantic Bank International is currently unable to process wire transfers, in and out, for its overseas customers who are in need of Belize currency. The stoppage in this service is the direct result of the Bank of New York issuing a ban against Atlantic Bank International after the US Federal Trade Commission has roped in Atlantic Bank International as an ally in the Sanctuary Bay multi-million-dollar scheme that saw several US investors lose money in a project that never came to fruition. Read more

CDB Grant Stirs Up Fuss About Regional White Sugar

Jamaica Gleaner: The April 2 announcement of a more than US$97,000 gift from the Caribbean Development Bank, CDB, to Caricom for a study on plantation white sugar has Jamaican manufacturing representatives lining up on different sides of the hot-button issue. Read more 

Govt to build nation’s quality standards system – Sutherland

Barbados Today: “Government considers this goal as urgent, and of very
high priority, in our efforts to enhance the national competitiveness of our local micro-small and medium size (MSMEs) businesses, industries and the promotion of fair trade,” he said. Read more 

CARICOM vital to regional development: Grenada’s new envoy

Caribbean News Service: CARICOM has been an indispensable force, says new envoy. Read more 

Call for Caribbean to speak out

Barbados Today: The Minister for tourism has issued a call for the Caribbean to take a defiant stand against the international community’s imposition of standards on small states – even as his own Government was racing to comply with new financial reporting rules set by a global watchdog. Read more

US report names several Caribbean nations as “major money laundering” centres

Caribbean News Now: In the latest US International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), volume two dedicated to money laundering, the report lists all major Caribbean and Central American countries as “Major Money Laundering Jurisdictions” for the year 2018: Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Curacao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, St Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Maarten, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela. Read more 

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Argentine Elections Could Narrow Brazil’s Mercosur Reform Path

Stratfor: Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s push to reform the trade policy of the Common Market of the South (Mercosur) risks collapsing without the support of Argentina. Read more

Ambassadors pave the way for EU-US trade talks, despite French opposition

Euractiv: Europe is set to start trade talks with the US after ambassadors gave their green light on Thursday (11 April) to a proposed mandate for the European Commission to conduct the negotiations on behalf of the 28 EU member countries. Read more

EU27 is now free to hold summits without the UK

Euractiv: The EU27 will be free to hold official Council meetings and make decisions without the UK despite the country still being a member of the Union, in a move seen as a success for France’s President Macron, who led calls for the restrictions. Read more

Tokyo and Washington finally set to kick off trade talks as American farmers fume over poor Japan access

Japan Times: This week, negotiators from Japan and the United States will meet in Washington to address something that U.S. President Donald Trump considers to be long overdue: trade negotiations to open the Japanese market to more American goods. Read more

China-US trade deal could threaten Beijing’s other trading partners, IMF says

South China Morning Post: Any trade deal between China and the United States must comply with multilateral rules, as not doing so may create economic risks for the Asian nation’s other major trading partners, the International Monetary Fund said. Read more 

South Korea WTO appeal succeeds in Japanese Fukushima food dispute

Reuters: South Korea won the bulk of its appeal on Thursday in a dispute at the World Trade Organization over import bans and testing requirements it had imposed on Japanese seafood in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. Read more 

China has good reasons to join Pacific Trade pact, but obstacles remain

The Strait Times: If China joined a massive Pacific trade deal, it could create hundreds of billions of dollars in extra income and spur domestic reforms, say analysts, but signing up would be far easier said than done. Read more 

China, US could win big on no-deal Brexit: UN

France24: If Britain leaves the EU without a deal, the bloc and Britain’s smaller trading partners stand to lose big, but Beijing and Washington could reap huge benefits, the UN said Tuesday. In a fresh report, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) examined what repercussions it would have for Britain’s trading partners if the country crashes out of the European Union without a deal. Read more 

Commission releases detailed information on requirements for EU goods exported to the UK in case of a hard Brexit

EU: The European Commission has included in its Market Access Database detailed information on the rules that the UK would apply on its imports from the EU in the event of a hard Brexit. It is based on information made publicly available by the United Kingdom authorities. Read more

EU foreign investment screening regulation enters into force

EU: The new EU framework for the screening of foreign direct investments has officially entered into force on 10 April 2019. The new framework is based on proposal tabled by the European Commission in September 2017 and will be instrumental in safeguarding Europe’s security and public order in relation to foreign direct investments into the Union. Read more

India reduces trade deficit with China by $10 billion in FY19

CNbcTV: India’s trade deficit with China fell by $10 billion to $53 billion in FY19 on the back of lower imports, officials told CNBC-TV18. The downtick in the merchandise trade gap was also aided by new market opportunities arising out of the US-China trade war in the neighbouring nation. Read more 

India’s trade ministry says no legal basis to ban e-cigarette imports

Economic Times: India’s trade ministry says it cannot impose a ban on electronic cigarette imports as there is no legal basis for doing so, an internal government memo viewed by Reuters shows, in a boost for those looking to tap into the country’s growing vaping market. Read more 

Africa’s new free trade area faces bumpy road to full implementation

Global Trade Review: The Gambia has become the 22nd nation to ratify the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the number required for the agreement to take effect. While this marks a significant step towards the continent’s ambition to create a single market, the free trade area will face a bumpy road to full implementation. Read more 

Why no-deal Brexit could be a win for South Africa

Business Tech: A no-deal Brexit could damage smaller economies trading with the United Kingdom (UK) – but bring substantial gains for China and other trading partners such as South Africa. Read more 

A US-EU trade war would be a political and economic mistake, says French finance minister

CNBC: With global growth already slowing down, starting a trade war now between the U.S. and the European Union would be both a political and economic mistake, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said Thursday. Read more 

Brexit: UK and EU agree delay to 31 October

BBC: European Union leaders have granted the UK a six-month extension to Brexit, after late-night talks in Brussels. The new deadline – 31 October – averts the prospect of the UK having to leave the EU without a deal on Friday, as MPs are still deadlocked over a deal. Read more

EU Commission split on fertiliser anti-dumping duties

Independent: A serious spat involving two arms of the EU Commission has erupted over attempts by the fertiliser industry to have anti-dumping duties imposed on liquid urea ammonium nitrate (UAN). Read more 

EU-U.S. Trade War Escalates Over Disputed Aviation Subsidies

Bloomberg: The European Union is preparing retaliatory tariffs against the U.S. over subsidies to Boeing Co., significantly escalating transatlantic trade tensions hours after Washington vowed to hit the EU with duties over its support for Airbus SE. Read more

Report to Congress on China’s Engagement with Latin America and the Caribbean

The following is the April 11, 2019 Congressional Research Service Insight report, China’s Engagement with Latin America and the Caribbean. Read more 

EU aid increases, bucking global trend

Euractiv: Development aid spending by EU members saw a slight increase to $87 billion in 2018 (€77 billion) compared to 2017, according to new data published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Read more 

WTO NEWS

VACANCY: Young Professionals Programme – Apply by April 15, 2019

The WTO Young Professionals Programme was launched in 2016 as an opportunity for qualified young professionals from developing and least-developed countries that are members of the WTO to enhance their knowledge regarding WTO and international trade issues. Read more 

WTO’s Trade Policy Review Mechanism turns 30

The WTO marked on 12 April the 30th anniversary of the Trade Policy Review Mechanism (TPRM), which over the last three decades has contributed to ensuring and facilitating the smooth functioning of the multilateral trading system by enhancing the transparency of WTO members’ trade policies. Read more 

Registration opens for screening of second compliance panel meeting in “EC — Large Civil Aircraft”

At the request of the parties in the dispute “European Communities and Certain Member States — Measures Affecting Trade in Large Civil Aircraft: Recourse to Article 21.5 of the DSU by the European Union and Certain Member States” (DS316), the panel has decided to invite officials of WTO Members and Observers, and the general public, to view a recording of its substantive meeting with the parties and consenting third parties. The public viewing will take place at the WTO headquarters in Geneva on 13 May 2019. Read more 

DG Azevêdo: rules-based trading system is “irreplaceable” but must be ready to evolve

At a speech delivered to the Peterson Institute in Washington DC on 11 April, Director-General Roberto Azevêdo underlined the critical importance of the WTO to the stability and predictability of the global trading system. At the same time “it is clear that the WTO has to be better, faster and more responsive” to the challenges facing the organization and the system as a whole. Read more 

WTO hosts closing ceremony of Model WTO 2019

Over 70 students from around the world came to the WTO’s headquarters on 11 April for the conclusion of Model WTO 2019, a week-long simulation of WTO negotiations organized by a group of students from the University of St. Gallen with the support of the WTO. Read more

WTO establishes panel to review Turkish duties on Thai air conditioners

At a meeting of the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) on 11 April, WTO members agreed to Thailand’s request for the establishment of a dispute panel to rule on duties levied by Turkey on imported Thai air conditioners. Members also considered Russia’s request for a panel regarding European Union anti-dumping duties on Russian steel products and formally adopted the compliance panel and Appellate reports in the EU’s complaint against US subsidies for Boeing. Read more

Appellate Body issues report regarding Korean restrictions on Japanese food imports

On 11 April the Appellate Body issued its report in the case brought by Japan in “Korea — Import Bans, and Testing and Certification Requirements for Radionuclides” (DS495). Read more

WTO, IMF and World Bank leaders stress vital role of trade in reducing poverty

Director-General Roberto Azevêdo joined with IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde and World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva on 10 April to argue for renewed efforts to leverage trade as a force to reduce poverty. DG Azevêdo argued that the current trade tensions could undermine recent progress in tackling poverty. “We cannot afford to go down this path,” he said. The three leaders were speaking at a joint WTO-IMF-World Bank event in Washington DC titled “Beyond Uncertainty: Leveraging Trade to Reduce Poverty”, held alongside the World Bank-IMF Spring meetings. Read more 

EU initiates WTO dispute complaint against Turkish measures affecting pharmaceuticals

The European Union has requested dispute consultations with Turkey regarding various requirements imposed by Turkey on the production, import and approval for reimbursement, pricing and licensing of pharmaceutical products. The request was circulated to WTO members on 10 April. Read more 

Trade Policy Review: Samoa

The first review of the trade policies and practices of Samoa takes place on 10 and 12 April 2019. The basis for the review is a report by the WTO Secretariat and a report by the Government of Samoa. Read more 

CTLD BLOG NEWS

Read my latest article with Dr. Jan Yves Remy, Deputy Director of the University of the West Indies’ Shridath Ramphal Centre for International Trade Law, Policy & Services exploring the issue of special and differential treatment in the World Trade Organization from a Caribbean perspective Special and Differential Treatment at the WTO: A Caribbean Perspective.

The Caribbean Trade & Development Digest is a weekly trade news digest 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 follow our blog.

Caribbean Trade & Development Digest – March 31 – April 6, 2019

Welcome to the Caribbean Trade & Development Digest for the week of March 31- April 6, 2019! 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.

HIGHLIGHTS

With the new Brexit deadline of April 12, 2019 fast approaching and no sign that British MPs are any closer to backing the Draft Withdrawal Agreement negotiated by the Theresa May Government with the EU, which they already rejected three times, the UK Government has asked for a further extension until June 30, 2019.

The WTO released its April outlook for global trade growth, revising downward its forecast for 2019 amidst rising trade tensions. Read more here: WTO: Trade tensions pose greatest risk to trade growth

Meanwhile regionally, the CARICOM Competition Commission (CCC) has warned that the sale of Scotia Bank could have anti-competitive effects in three countries. Read the statement from the CCC here.

The text of the CARIFORUM-UK Economic Partnership Agreement has been released. Read more here: UK-CARIFORUM Economic Partnership Agreement: What does it all mean?

REGIONAL NEWS

Local manufacturers told to explore extra regional markets

LoopTT: Local manufacturers are being urged to seek out and penetrate new markets beyond CARICOM.  Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon made the comment while speaking at the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers’ Association’s (TTMA) 63rd Annual General Meeting on Tuesday. Read more 

Towards a Transparent and Effective Management of Guyana’s Oil and Gas Sector

Modern Diplomacy: The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved a US$20 million credit from the International Development Association (IDA) to strengthen institutions, laws and regulations to promote good governance and a prudent management of Guyana’s oil and gas sector. Read more 

CARICOM body warns sale of Scotiabank could have anti-competitive effect

Nation News: The Suriname-based Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Competition Commission (CCC) says the intended sale of Scotiabank’s assets in nine Caribbean countries could have anti-competitive effects in at least three CARICOM member states. Read more 

Imbert: US lobbyist seeking opportunities for Govt

Guardian (TT): The Group DC LLC, the US lob­by­ist firm, which un­der­took sev­er­al trade and in­vest­ment pro­mo­tion ini­tia­tives for the T&T Gov­ern­ment last year, iden­ti­fied op­por­tu­ni­ties and strate­gies to en­gage multi­na­tion­al cor­po­ra­tions to po­ten­tial­ly in­crease com­mer­cial ship­ping and dry­dock con­struc­tion here. Read more 

Take Trade Matters Seriously

Barbados Today: Former Barbados Government Minister, Ms. Lynette Eastmond wants to see a different approach by the Barbados private sector to the issue of the country negotiating trade agreements. Read more 

CDB grant to help CARICOM investigate suitability of plantation white sugar for regional manufacturing

Caribbean News Now: A collaboration between the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) aims to improve the availability of data to guide evidence-based decisions about the future of sugar in CARICOM. Read more 

Guyana part of regional study on substituting refined sugar with “plantation white”

Demerara Waves: Guyana is among four sugar-producing Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member nations that will be the focus of a regional study on the prospects of substituting imported refined sugar with plantation white, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) said Tuesday. Read more 

CSME: The principle, process and progress

Newsday (Trinidad): Gracia Whyte a Jamaican, made sure she had all her documents in order when she began the process of applying for a Caricom Single Market Economy (CSME) skills certificate. She even had her employer, Digicel, to help ease her through the transition during her application process. Bureaucracy, however, still held her back. Read more 

Wto ‘No Silver Bullet’ For Gdp Growth Woes

Tribune242: Full World Trade Organisation (WTO) membership “is not a silver bullet” for solving The Bahamas’ economic growth woes, a Chamber of Commerce executive argued yesterday. Read more 

Aruba Extends Airbnb Agreement

Travel Pulse: Aruba’s government has extended its 2016 agreement with home-stay provider Airbnb to “continue with the promotion of sustainable tourism in Aruba through home sharing,” said Aruba Tourism Authority (ATA) officials in a statement. Read more 

Belize Imports up 6.8% in February 2019

Amandala: Latest statistics released by the Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB) say that Belize imported nearly $146 million worth of goods in February 2019, an increase of $9.2 million (6.8%) over the $136.8 million worth of goods we imported in February 2018. Read more 

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Brexit chaos leaves dismay in Asia-Pacific

Asia Times: Britain’s failure to acyhieve a withdrawal agreement with the EU has had a very negative impact on the UK’s relationships in Asia and it could deal a serious blow to its trade with the region. Read more 

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow says US-China trade deal ‘closer and closer’

South China Morning Post: US President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser says the US and China are “closer and closer” to a trade deal, and that top-tier officials would be talking again this week via “a lot of teleconferencing”. Read more

A swashbuckling global Britain free to do its own trade deals? It’s a mirage

The Guardian: Whatever happens in the Brexit negotiations, the question of the UK’s future trade relations with countries outside the European Union will become acute for businesses, investors, workers and citizens. Read more 

Chile Lawmakers Delay Vote Again on Pacific Trade Deal

Bloomberg: Chilean lawmakers have once again delayed voting on a major Pacific trade deal, heightening concerns that they could reject the treaty. Read more 

Major New UN Report Calls for Overhaul of Global Financial System

UNDP: Sixty-plus international organizations, led by the United Nations and including the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank Group and World Trade Organization, jointly sounded the alarm Thursday in a new report, warning that unless national and international financial systems are revamped, the world’s governments will fail to keep their promises on such critical issues as combatting climate change and eradicating poverty by 2030. Read more 

Moving the ACP Group to Centre Stage of Multilateralism

IndepthNews: In today’s global situation that bears the features of turbulence, fragility and an increasingly precarious balance between peace and possible nuclear annihilation, the role and relevance of the United Nations Organisation has assumed unparalleled importance. Read more 

Brexit extension veto by EU unlikely, says Leo Varadkar

BBC: It is unlikely an EU 27 country will veto a UK request for a delay to Brexit, the Irish prime minister has said. Read more 

May asks for Brexit extension to 30 June as Tusk offers up to a year

The Guardian: Rather than the year-long flexible extension to article 50 recommended by the European council president, the prime minister suggested 30 June as the new departure date, but with an option to leave earlier if the necessary legislation has been passed. Read more 

The African Continental Free Trade Area – More Hills To Climb

East African Business Week: The African Continental Free Trade Area (AFTA) has garnered the required 22 ratifications for it to enter into force, the latest ratification coming in on April 1, 2019, from The Gambia. Read more 

Trade agreement bolsters South Africa exports into Brazil

African daily voice: According to South African Foreign Economic Representative in Brazil, Shanaaz Ebrahim, the preferential trade agreement between the Southern African Customs Unions (SACU) and the Southern Common Market (Mercosur) trade blocs has led to a steady increase of South African exports into Brazil. Read more

After China, the US will ratchet up trade tensions with the EU, OECD chief economist warns

CNBC: Once the U.S. and China have reached a trade deal, the world’s largest economy will amplify tensions with the European Union, according to the chief economist of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Read more 

The Risk of E-Commerce Provisions in the RCEP

The Diplomat: The world of digital economies, innovation, and global value chains (GVCs) is changing rapidly. Every day there are stories about new technologies, services, and products that present unexpected possibilities and unforeseen challenges. Read more 

RCEP trade pact likely to be concluded in November: ASEAN chief Lim Jock Hoi

Japan Times: An Asiawide free trade deal involving 16 countries will likely be concluded in November at a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to be held in Thailand, ASEAN Secretary-General Lim Jock Hoi has said. Read more 

Pelosi: No vote on new NAFTA until Mexico changes labor laws

Politico: Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated on Tuesday the House will not consider President Donald Trump’s new North American trade pact until after Mexico has passed and implemented its major labor law reforms. Read more 

Canada says reopening USMCA trade pact could be a ‘Pandora’s box’

Reuters: Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland on Thursday cautioned against the idea of reopening a new continental trade pact with the United States and Mexico, saying it could be a “Pandora’s box.” Read more 

U.S., China to Keep Working on Trade Deal After Latest Talks

Bloomberg: China and the U.S. made progress toward a much-anticipated trade deal in their latest meetings and will keep talking on the remaining issues, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported. Read more 

Why the Kenya-Uganda trade agreement over SGR is a raw deal for Kenya

CFM (Kenya): Last week President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni struck a wide ranging trade agreement that basically removes existing trade barriers and commits Uganda to connect to Kenya its component of the SGR under the broader Chinese belt and road initiative (BRI). Read more

WTO NEWS

WTO issues panel report regarding Russian restrictions on traffic in transit

On 5 April the WTO circulated the panel report in the case brought by Ukraine in “Russia — Measures Concerning Traffic in Transit” (DS512). Read more 

Australia ratifies WTO procurement pact

Australia has ratified the WTO’s Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA), submitting its instrument of accession to the WTO Secretariat on 5 April. Starting next month, the country will benefit from new market access opportunities and other provisions under the pact. Read more 

Members advance work on new import licensing website and database

As part of overall efforts to improve transparency, WTO members advanced work to put into place a new import licensing website and database expected to be launched in late 2019 or early 2020. Read more 

DG Azevêdo praises Mexico’s support for a strong and effective rules-based system

Director-General Roberto Azevêdo welcomed Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s strong support for the WTO on 4 April, when they met in Mexico City. Their discussions included the importance of international trade and of a strong and effective rules-based system and the emerging debate on how to strengthen the WTO and global trade cooperation. Read more

Trade Policy Review: Bangladesh

The fifth review of the trade policies and practices of Bangladesh takes place on 3 and 5 April 2019. The basis for the review is a report by the WTO Secretariat and a report by the Government of Bangladesh. Read more 

Egypt launches safeguard investigation on semi-finished products of iron or non-alloy steel and steel rebar for construction purposes

On 2 April 2019, Egypt notified the WTO’s Committee on Safeguards that it initiated on 31 March 2019 a safeguard investigation on semi-finished products of iron or non-alloy steel and steel rebar (bars, rods and coils) for construction purposes. Read more 

Global trade growth loses momentum as trade tensions persist

World trade will continue to face strong headwinds in 2019 and 2020 after growing more slowly than expected in 2018 due to rising trade tensions and increased economic uncertainty. WTO economists expect merchandise trade volume growth to fall to 2.6% in 2019 — down from 3.0% in 2018. Trade growth could then rebound to 3.0% in 2020; however, this is dependent on an easing of trade tensions. Read more 

CTLD BLOG NEWS

The Caribbean Trade Law & Development (CTLD) Blog has been rated number 10 on Feedspot‘s Top 30 Caribbean Blogs, News Websites & Newsletters To Follow in 2019.

The Caribbean Trade & Development Digest is a weekly trade news digest 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 follow our blog.

UK-CARIFORUM Economic Partnership Agreement: What does it all mean?

Alicia Nicholls

On March 22, 2019, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK) and nine of the fifteen States comprising the Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM), a subgroup of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, signed the CARIFORUM-UK Economic Partnership Agreement (CARIFORUM-UK EPA)  which seeks to ensure that the current trade preferences between the UK and CARIFORUM remain after the UK’s departure from the European Union (EU).

This makes CARIFORUM one of nine trading partners with which the UK has to date successfully concluded a trade continuity agreement. This development has been widely welcomed by businesses and private sector associations in the Caribbean. But why was the CARIFORUM-UK EPA necessary and what does it provide for?

The CARIFORUM-UK EPA is between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on the one hand, and the fifteen CARIFORUM States (Antigua & Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, the Commonwealth of Dominica, The Dominican Republic, Grenada, The Republic of Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad & Tobago), on the other.

Nine of the CARIFORUM countries (Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines) signed the Agreement on March 22, 2019 at a signing ceremony in Castries, St. Lucia. Two other CARIFORUM States, Trinidad & Tobago and the Dominican Republic, signed on April 1, 2019 and on April 4, 2019, respectively. The remaining CARIFORUM States have indicated they will sign shortly.

Why is the CARIFORUM-UK EPA necessary?

The UK is currently due to leave the EU on April 12, 2019, unless a further extension to June 30, 2019 requested this week by the UK government is granted by the EU-27.  Until the UK officially leaves the EU, the UK’s trade relations with the fifteen CARIFORUM countries remain governed by the CARIFORUM-European Union Economic Partnership Agreement (CARIFORUM-EU EPA) which was signed and has been provisionally applied since 2008.

The CARIFORUM-EU EPA provides for the asymmetric liberalization of trade between the EU and CARIFORUM States. This includes duty-free and quota-free goods access, preferential access for services providers and investors, and protection for intellectual property. It also includes disciplines relating to government procurement and competition, for example, as well as extensive development cooperation provisions.

When the UK ceases to be an EU member, the CARIFORUM-EU EPA will continue to apply between CARIFORUM States and the remaining EU-27. However, the UK will no longer be party to any of the EU’s trade agreements with third parties, including the CARIFORUM-EU EPA. In the absence of a trade continuity agreement, trade between the UK and CARIFORUM would revert to World Trade Organization (WTO) Most Favoured Nation (MFN) rules. This would have implications for businesses, services providers and investors in the UK and CARIFORUM States dependent on the preferential market access provided for by the CARIFORUM-EU EPA.

A great summary of current CARIFORUM-UK economic relations may be found in the report prepared by the Secretary of State for International Trade for the UK Parliament. According to statistics from the UK Office of National Statistics (ONS) cited in that report, total goods and services trade between the UK and CARIFORUM States (excluding Haiti) accounted for 0.2% of total UK trade and was £2.5 billion in 2017.

Although there has been a steady decline in CARIFORUM-UK trade over time, the UK currently remains the main market for CARIFORUM exports to the EU. For example, it is a major market for Caribbean rum, banana and sugar exports. Additionally, the UK remains an important source market for tourists to the Caribbean and in the case of Barbados, remains that country’s largest source market for tourist arrivals and real estate foreign direct investment (FDI).

To avoid any disruption in trade and to create some modicum of certainty for UK and CARIFORUM businesses and consumers once the UK leaves the EU, the UK and CARIFORUM promptly commenced dialogue on the conclusion of a trade continuity agreement that would replicate the provisions of the CARIFORUM-EU EPA, to the extent possible.

What does the CARIFORUM-UK Agreement include?

The CARIFORUM-UK EPA, whose main text comprises seventy-six pages, replicates to the extent possible, the text of the CARIFORUM-EU EPA. The previously mentioned Parliamentary Report provides an excellent synopsis of the Agreement, including the necessary differences between the CARIFORUM-UK EPA and CARIFORUM-EU EPA.

Where necessary, the CARIFORUM-UK EPA has removed and replaced references to the EU in the text,  provided for the continuation of time-bound periods, as well as limited the territorial scope of the Agreement to the CARIFORUM States and to the United Kingdom, its Crown Dependencies and Gibraltar.

The CARIFORUM-UK EPA will only take effect once the UK has left the EU. Similar to the CARIFORUM-EU EPA, the CARIFORUM-UK EPA provides for provisional application which allows it to be provisionally applied before all the parties have done the necessary domestic ratification steps to allow for the Agreement’s entry into force.

Additionally, the CARIFORUM-UK EPA provides a safeguard in the event of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit. A non-legally binding MoU between the UK and participating CARIFORUM countries aims to stop the gap between the date the CARIFORUM-EU EPA ceases to apply to the UK until the date when the CARIFORUM-UK EPA takes effect. Under this MoU, the parties will use their best endeavours to bring the CARIFORUM-UK EPA into effect as between them within three months of the MoU’s coming into effect, during which time the UK will apply the tariff schedule laid out under the CARIFORUM-UK EPA to those CARIFORUM States which have signed both the CARIFORUM-UK EPA and the MoU. So far, the UK has signed an MoU with the original nine CARIFORUM signatories and another MoU with Trinidad & Tobago.

Since the CARIFORUM-EU EPA’s signature in 2008, many developments have impacted on rule-making in trade agreements. Like the CARIFORUM-EU EPA, the CARIFORUM-UK Agreement includes mechanisms for monitoring the Agreement’s implementation, as well as a revision clause allowing for the parties to broaden or amend the Agreement, including the possibility of bringing the UK’s British Overseas Territories within the scope of the Agreement.

The institutions under the CARIFORUM-EU EPA have been replicated in the CARIFORUM-UK EPA. For example, it establishes a Joint CARIFORUM-UK Council responsible for the Agreement’s implementation and operation, as well as a CARIFORUM-UK Trade and Development Committee to assist the Joint Council. Two joint institutions (namely, the Special Committee on Agriculture and Fisheries and the Technical Sub-Committee on Development Cooperation), which had been established after the CARIFORUM-EU EPA’s signature, are directly included through dedicated articles in the CARIFORUM-UK EPA’s text.

What does it all mean?

As of the date of this article’s publication, the UK still remains an EU member. The original Brexit Day (March 29, 2019) has passed and the extension date of April 12, 2019 is fast approaching. In light of British MPs’ rejection of the Draft Withdrawal Agreement for the third time and no clear consensus among MPs on what they believe the future EU-UK relationship should be, the UK Government has asked for a further extension to June 30, 2019. As it stands, the threat of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit still remains a real possibility.

In light of the current Brexit chaos, CARIFORUM countries’ conclusion of a trade continuity agreement with the UK was a prudent move to preserve continuity and certainty for our businesses, consumers and investors. The CARIFORUM-UK EPA will only take effect once the UK leaves the EU and until such time, CARIFORUM-UK trade relations will remain covered by the CARIFORUM-EU EPA. Indeed, it could be regarded as an insurance policy of sorts – providing peace of mind and only used if and when needed.

The text of the CARIFORUM-UK Economic Partnership Agreement may be found  online here, while the Parliamentary Report which provides a good synopsis may be found here.

Alicia Nicholls, B.Sc., M.Sc., LL.B., is an international 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.

Text of UK-CARIFORUM EPA Published

Alicia Nicholls

The text of the United Kingdom-CARIFORUM Economic Partnership Agreement (UK-CARIFORUM EPA) has finally been published online. Whether you are a trade policy nerd or simply a business person concerned about the continuity of trade preferences between the UK-CARIFORUM countries post-Brexit, you would be forgiven for anxiously awaiting the release of the text.

Brexit Day (which was to have been March 29, 2019) has passed and the UK remains an EU member and no closer to any certainty regarding its future trading relationship with the EU-27 post-Brexit.  The UK government has requested a further extension to June 30, 2019 in hopes of getting British MPs to back the Draft Withdrawal Agreement which they rejected three times already.

Brexit chaos aside, on March 22, 2019, it was announced that the UK and CARIFORUM countries had signed a trade continuity agreement called the UK-CARIFORUM Economic Partnership Agreement which would preserve the preferences between the UK and CARIFORUM currently under the CARIFORUM-EU EPA. The CARIFORUM-EU EPA has been provisionally applied since 2008.

This means that CARIFORUM is one of the handful of trading partners with which the UK has managed to so far conclude trade continuity agreements. The UK is the most important trading partner in the EU for CARIFORUM countries and CARIFORUM leaders quickly recognised the need to ensure the continuity of trading conditions post-Brexit between the UK and CARIFORUM States.

The UK-CARIFORUM EPA was signed by the UK and nine CARIFORUM States (Barbados, Belize, The Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, The Republic of Guyana, Jamaica, St. Christopher & Nevis, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines) on March 22, 2019. Trinidad & Tobago signed on April 1, 2019, while the remaining CARIFORUM States have indicated they will sign shortly.

As it currently stands, UK-CARIFORUM trading relations remain governed by the CARIFORUM-EU EPA, and the UK-CARIFORUM EPA is only expected to take effect once the CARIFORUM-EU EPA no longer applies to the UK. For it to enter into force, ratification will be needed by each of the parties. The Agreement’s utility stems from the fact that it ensures the continuity of preferential trading relations between the UK and CARIFORUM States once the UK leaves the EU, particularly in the case of a no-deal Brexit.

The UK-CARIFORUM Economic Partnership Agreement replicates the provisions of the CARIFORUM-EU EPA to the extent possible, including its development cooperation provisions. It also establishes a Joint CARIFORUM-UK Council with responsibility for implementing the Agreement, as well as a CARIFORUM-UK Trade and Development Committee. For further information, please feel free to read my commentary on it here: UK-CARIFORUM Economic Partnership Agreement: What does it all mean?

The text of the UK-CARIFORUM Economic Partnership Agreement may now be found  online here.

Alicia Nicholls, B.Sc., M.Sc., LL.B., is an international 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: Trade tensions pose greatest risk to trade growth

Alicia Nicholls

Rising trade tensions and economic uncertainty account largely for the deceleration in global trade growth experienced in 2018 and will continue to pose the greatest risk to growth in 2019. This is according to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in its latest Trade Statistics and Outlook released on April 2, 2019.

As I had noted in my first blog post for the year, 2018 was without doubt a challenging  year for global trade policy. Among the highlights (or low lights) were the tariff tit for tat between the US and China until a truce in December 2018 brought a halt to the planned imposition of more tariffs, and the imposition by the US of punitive tariffs on steel and aluminium imports, which led to retaliation by other major powers, most notably, the EU.

It is little surprise then that according to WTO economists, global trade under-performed in 2018 expanding by 3.0%, down from the 4.6% above-average growth recorded in 2017 and slower than the 3.9% which was projected for 2018 in their September 2018 forecast. The uncertainty has led to a dampening of investment and consumption. Weak import demand in Europe and Asia depressed global trade volume growth in 2018. Higher energy prices were partly responsible for the 10% increase in the value of merchandise trade in 2018.

In his brief remarks during a press conference on the latest forecast, the WTO’s Director General, Mr. Roberto Azevedo, noted that “the fact that we don’t have great news today should surprise no one who has been reading the papers over the last 12 months. Of course there are other elements at play, but rising trade tensions are the major factor”.  The Director General further explained that the range of new and retaliatory measures tariffs introduced affected widely trade goods. Other factors which affected global trade growth in 2018 were the weaker global economic growth, volatility in financial markets and tighter monetary conditions in developed countries, among others.

World commercial services trade was much more positive with the value rising 8% in 2018 on the back of strong import growth in Asia.

Looking forward, WTO economists now forecast world merchandise trade growth to slow further to 2.6% in 2019, which is a downward revision from their forecast of 3.7% in September 2018. WTO economists estimate some pickup in trade growth to 3.0% in 2020, with stronger growth predicted for developing economies than developed ones.

They, however, caution that this forecast could be affected negatively if trade tensions continue to escalate, or positively if they ease. Director General Azevedo reiterated that “it is therefore increasingly urgent that we resolve tensions and focus on charting a positive path forward for global trade which responds to the real challenges in today’s economy”.

The full forecast may be viewed here, while Mr. Azevedo’s remarks are available here.

Alicia Nicholls, B.Sc., M.Sc., LL.B., is an international 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.

CTLD Blog rated among Top 30 Caribbean Blogs to follow in 2019!

BRIDGETOWN, April 2, 2019 – The Caribbean Trade Law & Development (CTLD) Blog has been rated number 10 on Feedspot‘s Top 30 Caribbean Blogs, News Websites & Newsletters To Follow in 2019

caribbean_1000pxIt is the most comprehensive list of best Caribbean blogs on the internet. Out of thousands of Caribbean-focused blogs, news sites and newsletters online, Feedspot ranked the top 30 winners on the following four criteria: Google reputation and Google search ranking; influence and popularity on Facebook, twitter and other social media sites; quality and consistency of posts and Feedspot’s editorial team and expert review.

Founder of the CTLD Blog, Miss Alicia Nicholls, was happy and humbled by the Blog’s inclusion on this list. An international trade and development consultant, Miss Nicholls created the blog in 2011 to share trade and development information of specific interest to the Caribbean. The Blog’s signature weekly Caribbean Trade & Development Digest newsletter was created in 2016.

While the Blog’s content is primarily Caribbean focused, its readership has quickly grown to include academics, practitioners, students and other persons from across the world. Miss Nicholls expresses her gratitude to the Feedspot Editorial Team as well as the Blog’s readers for their support.

Congratulations to all winners! The full list of top 30 Caribbean blogs may be found here.

                                                            – END-

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