Caribbean Trade & Development Digest – March 26- April 1, 2017

Source: Pixabay

Welcome to the Caribbean Trade and Development Digest for the week of March 26-April 1!  I am pleased to share some of the major trade and development headlines and analysis across the Caribbean region and the World. 

The biggest trade news this week was that the United Kingdom has officially submitted its notification of intention to withdraw from the European Union, and has published its Great Repeal White Paper. United States President Trump signed on Friday two executive orders on trade, one calling for improving the collection of anti-dumping/countervailing measure duties and the other mandating a study on the reasons for the US trade deficit. Turning to the Caribbean, the Golding Commission in Jamaica has turned over its CARICOM Review Report to the Jamaican Prime Minister.

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 NEWS

Golding Commission Submits CARICOM Review Report To PM

Jamaica Gleaner: The Bruce Golding-led CARICOM Review Commission has submitted its final report, eight months after it started its work. Read more 

Guyana cleared for paddy exports to Mexico

Stabroek: According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Guyana will now be able to bid on three quotas, totalling 30,000 metric tonnes of paddy for export to Mexico, following the Government of Mexico’s decision to allow the tax free importation of 150,000 metric tonnes of paddy and rice products from outside of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) member states. Read more 

Belize economy declines by 1.2% in 4th quarter

Breaking Belize News: For the first time in five years, Belize has seen a decline in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) fourth quarter of the year. Read more

CARICOM launches new energy efficiency code

Antigua Observer: Jamaica has launched a new initiative aimed at develop a Regional Energy Efficiency Building Code (REEBC).  The project is being undertaken by the Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ) in collaboration with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ). Read more 

Leveraging opportunities from the EU

Barbados Advocate: Andrea King, Director, Barbados Cultural Industries Development Authority has revealed the recent project that the Barbados Cultural Industries Development Authority is managing on behalf of the Ministry of Culture, Sport and Youth has gained critical market research intelligence to conduct business in the European market. Read more 

Tourism will still be king

Nation News: Tourism will continue to be golden egg in Barbados’ economic basket even as the island pursues diversification via other sectors including renewable energy. Read more 

Local experts to inspect Brazil’s meat processing plants

Jamaica Gleaner: A Jamaican technical team, which leaves this week for Brazil, will undertake a fact-finding mission to determine the validity of reports of tainted meat being processed into corned beef. Read more 

Regional sugar production for 2017 off to steady start

Jamaica Observer: The Sugar Association of the Caribbean (SAC) has reported an increase in sugar production in the region for the month of February when compared to the same period last year. Read more 

10th EDF Technical Barriers Of Trade Programme Is A Resounding Success

ZIZ Online: Media representatives and members of national bureaus of standards in CARIFORUM member countries participated in a close-out regional press conference on Thursday, March 23, which was geared at highlighting the numerous successes of the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) Technical Barriers of Trade (TBT) Programme. Read more

Guyana’s Coast Guard boosts capacity amidst oil production

Demerara Waves: The Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Coast Guard is beefing up its capacity to provide security for offshore oil exploration and production as well as clamp down on illegal activities some of which “distort our economy,”  President David Granger said. Read more 

Ministers finalise Caricom strategy for education, human resource development

Stabroek News: Caribbean Ministers of Education and other educational officials yesterday met to finalise a regional strategy for education and human resource development. Read more 

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

No turning back on ‘Brexit’ as Article 50 triggered

BBC: Britain’s departure from the EU is “an historic moment from which there can be no turning back”, Theresa May has said. Read more 

‘We are ready’: Canada-Europe trade deal set to kick in, mostly, by July 1

CBC News: Canada is preparing to provisionally apply the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) by July 1. Read more 

COMESA 53m Euros trade facilitation programme almost complete

CTA: The formulation of projects under the COMESA trade facilitation programme to be financed under the 11 European Development Fund has entered the home stretch. Read more 

EU, Mercosur Negotiators Report Progress, Schedule Future Meetings

ICSTD: Negotiators meeting to advance a planned EU-Mercosur Association Agreement, including a free trade deal, finished their 27th round of talks last Friday in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Read more 

OAS, US Denounce Venezuelan High Court’s Takeover of Legislature

VOA: The Venezuelan Supreme Court’s decision late Wednesday to take control of the opposition-controlled legislature has set off a wave of outrage, with some hemispheric neighbors, including the United States, Mexico, Peru and Argentina, denouncing the measure as a threat to democracy. Read more 

Canada’s ambassador: All Romanian citizens can travel to Canada without visas starting December 1

Business Review: Romanians who own a valid visa for USA or received a visa for Canada in the last 10 years will travel to Canada without visa from May 1 and from December 1 all citizens will travel to Canada without visa, said on Thursday Kevin Hamilton, the ambassador of Canada to Romania, according to Agerpres. Read more

Brexit: UK publishes ‘Great Repeal Bill’ plan to replace EU laws

CNN: The scale of the task facing UK legislators as they try to extricate Britain from the European Union was revealed on Thursday when the British government set out how the process would work. Read more 

Nicola Sturgeon threatens to try and obstruct Great Repeal Bill

Telegraph: Nicola Sturgeon has signalled she will try and derail the Great Repeal Bill by withholding her government’s consent for its plans to give Scotland powers repatriated from Brussels. Read more 

Trump executive orders will target trade ‘cheaters’

USAToday: President Trump promised to crack down on “foreign importers that cheat” Friday, signing two executive orders that he said would lead to a historic reversal of the nation’s trade deficit. Read more 

On ‘Brexit,’ It’s Divorce First, Trade Talks Later, E.U. Tells U.K.

New York Times: Britain must agree to pay its bills and to protect millions of Europeans living in Britain before reaching a new trading relationship with the European Union, Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, said on Friday. Read more 

Trump administration seeks mainly modest changes to NAFTA

CNBC: The Trump administration is seeking mainly limited changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. Read more 

Germany urges EU to file WTO complaint against U.S. in steel row

Reuters: Germany urged the European Union on Friday to consider filing a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) against the United States over its plan to impose duties on imports of steel plate from five EU member states. Read more

China says U.S. trade orders should respect international rules

Reuters: China called on the United States to respect international trade rules and improve cooperation and dialogue in reaction to two new orders by U.S. President Donald Trump calling for an investigation into trade abuses. Read more 

WTO issues panel report regarding EU tariff rate quotas on poultry imports

WTO: On 28 March 2017 the WTO issued the panel report in the case brought by China in “European Union – Measures Affecting Tariff Concessions on Certain Poultry Meat Products”. Read more

WTO members review new farm policies in Agriculture Committee

WTO: WTO members held discussions about each other’s farm trade policies at a meeting of the Committee on Agriculture on 27 March. The Committee considered 29 questions concerning subsidies and market access in agriculture, with 16 of these items being raised for the first time. They also reviewed notifications of members’ farm policies. Read more 

US universities speak out against Trump travel ban

VOA: A group of 31 U.S. colleges and universities is supporting a legal challenge to President Donald Trump’s restrictions on travel to the United States by refugees and visitors from certain Muslim-majority countries, asserting the executive order would harm their efforts to provide quality education and promote the free exchange of ideas. Read more 

Trump Administration appealing halt of revised travel ban

CNN: The Justice Department has filed a notice to appeal a Hawaii-based federal judge’s ruling that indefinitely halted core portions of the President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban. Read more 

 

CTLD NEWS

I was honoured to be a panellist  representing FRANHENDY ATTORNEYS at the Barbados International Business Association (BIBA) International Business Forum on March 31st in Barbados. The Panel was “The Trump Presidency – Implications and Opportunities for IFCs“. The discussion, which considered the potential implications and opportunities of the Trump Presidency for Caribbean International Financial Centres (IFCs) was ably moderated by Melanie Jones of LEX Caribbean Attorneys-at-Law. I was delighted to share the stage with a distinguished panel which comprised of noted economist Jeremy Stephen, attorney-at-law Cadian Drummond and Executive Director of the University of the West Indies Consulting (UWI Consulting), Lisa Cummins.  I wish to thank BIBA, the moderator, my fellow panellists, as well as those from the two other panels for a very engaging and informative Business Forum as always.

NEW ON THE CTLD BLOG

Brexit begins; UK makes historic Article 50 notification of withdrawal from EU

New Trump Executive Order Reverses Obama-Era Climate Change Policies

Post-Brexit UK-Caribbean Trading Relations: What are the options?

Liked this issue? Read past issues of our weekly Caribbean Trade & Development Digest, please visit here. To receive these mailings directly to your inbox, please follow our blog.

Brexit begins; UK makes historic Article 50 notification of withdrawal from EU

Alicia Nicholls

Nine months after 52% of Britons voted yes in the June 23, 2016 referendum on whether the United Kingdom should exit the European Union (EU), British Prime Minister Theresa May has followed through on her “Brexit means Brexit” promise. On Wednesday, March 29, 2017 the May Government submitted a letter to the EU Council’s President Donald Tusk formally notifying of the UK’s intention to withdraw from the EU pursuant to Article 50 (2) of the Treaty on European Union (Lisbon Treaty).

Earlier this month (March 13), the UK Parliament had passed the legislation authorising the Government to make the notification and allowing Mrs. May to meet the end of March deadline she had promised last year.

What happens next?

The UK will be the first EU Member State to withdraw from the EU so the move is not just historic but also brings some uncertainty.  However, on several points Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty is clear.  The Article 50 (2) notification starts the two year clock towards the UK’s formal exit. The Brexit negotiations will concern not only the terms of the UK’s withdrawal from the currently 28-member trade and economic bloc but also the framework for the future relationship between the UK and remaining EU-27. Article 50(2)  also makes clear that the negotiations are to follow the procedure set out in Article 218 (3) which deals with negotiations of agreements with third States. Regardless of whether or not a deal is reached, the UK automatically ceases to be part of the EU and its treaties once the two year timeframe from the date of the Article 50 (2) notification (March 29 2019) elapses, unless the EU Council (unanimously) and the UK agree to an extension.

The road to Brexit thus far has not been a smooth one, but may be mild compared to what potentially awaits ahead. Mrs May faces likely tough negotiations. Though wishing to preserve as amicable and cooperative a relationship with the UK, the EU Council would not want to make leaving the EU too easy a prospect for those EU member states which might be contemplating their own ‘Brexit’. Moreover, the UK has little experience in trade negotiations because the EU Commission was responsible for negotiations with third States.

For her part, Mrs. May was both firm but cordial in her withdrawal letter, reiterating themes from her major Brexit speech. She noted that while the UK would be leaving the EU, it would not be leaving Europe and she expressed the desire to remain friends and committed allies with the EU-27.

One of the issues to be ironed out would be what level of access will the UK have to the EU for not only its goods and services. Mrs. May has already made clear that the UK will not seek to be a member of the single market or the customs union.

Additionally, another contentious issue is that of residency rights of the 900,000 Britons (according to the Office of National Statistics) living in the EU-27.

The May Government has already stated its willingness to walk away with no deal rather than a bad one.

In addition to possibly tough negotiations with the EU, Mrs. May will also need to manage the home front amidst calls by Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon for a second independence referendum. Scotland had voted to remain.

The Brexit negotiations may not start until June which cuts into the two year window for negotiation.

The full Article 50 notification letter 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.

New Trump Executive Order Reverses Obama-Era Climate Change Policies

Alicia Nicholls

Less than one hundred days into his presidency, President Donald Trump has started a major rollback of Obama-era climate policies. Surrounded by an ensemble of coal miners, the US President today signed his Executive Order on Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth.  Touted as necessary to liberalise energy production, promote economic growth and job creation, the Trump Executive Order takes aim at several executive actions implemented by his predecessor, President Barack Obama, as part of the US’ then response to the global climate change challenge.

For fellow pro-environmentalists today’s executive order is a blow to the global climate change fight and a sad confirmation of the policy change which Trump had promised. Why? Firstly, the US is the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases (16% according to 2015 figures), which means US action or inaction on climate change has a non-negligible impact on global efforts to reverse course before it is too late. Secondly, environmental regulatory rollback by the US could provoke a domino effect on other large emitters who may decide to rollback their own so-called ‘job killing’ environmental regulations in order to be competitive. Thirdly, US climate change inaction is not just a blow for small island developing States which are the most vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change, but it further endangers those parts of the US which are feeling the ravages of climate change, such as sea level rise and more powerful storms.

The name  of the executive order is a misnomer as it does nothing to promote energy independence. Instead, it mandates, inter alia, departments and agencies to immediately review, suspend, revise or rescind existing regulations that “potentially burden the development or use of domestically produced energy resources”. It rescinds Certain Energy and Climate-Related Presidential and Regulatory Actions, including a 2013 executive order urging the federal government to prepare for the impact of climate change and a 2013 presidential memorandum on Carbon Sector Carbon Pollution Standards. It also lifts moratoria on Federal land coal leasing activities. His Head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Scott Pruitt, a known climate sceptic, reportedly hailed the regulatory rollback as “pro-jobs and pro-environment”.

This 360 degree reversal of US Climate Change policy comes days after President Trump’s proposed Budget which slashed budgetary funding for the EPA by 31%, but saw an increase in military spending.

Though denounced by environmentalists, the executive order has been praised by the US Coal Industry. Mr. Trump constantly blamed President Obama’s Clean Power Plan for the loss of coal mining jobs. However, though it is true that coal mining jobs have been on the decline in the US, most have been lost to automation as well as the shift to cleaner energy sources as opposed to clean energy regulations. Therefore, even some coal industry leaders, who have denounced climate action, have noted that coal jobs may not be coming back, regulatory rollback or not.

Moreover, the equation of climate change regulation with job losses is a false comparison as it ignores the growth not just in renewable energy industries and the green economy, but also specifically of green jobs and green goods and services.

President Trump is currently the only major world leader to deny the anthropogenic origin of climate change, and while he has often vacillated in his views on other subjects, on climate change he has been a consistent denier. Almost as a warning salvo that it would not be business as usual,  the Whitehouse.gov site had been scrubbed of any information relating to climate change immediately after President Trump’s inauguration.

Mr. Trump was also a fierce critic of the Paris Climate Agreement which had been concluded and signed by over 190 countries at the UNFCCC’s 21st Conference of the Parties (COP 21). Parties to the Agreement, which the US had ratified under President Obama via executive action, pledged, inter alia, to “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels.”

In the absence of being able to withdraw from the Paris Agreement (which the US cannot do until 4 years after ratifying), President Trump has, as expected, chosen to ignore and reverse emission reduction commitments made by his predecessor. It is also expected that under President Trump the US will renege on the pledge made by developed countries to mobilise $100 billion in climate finance per year by 2020 to assist developing countries with their climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts.

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.

Post-Brexit UK-Caribbean Trading Relations: What are the options?

Alicia Nicholls

With the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister Theresa May due to formally begin the Brexit process by making the Article 50 notification this Wednesday (March 29), it is worth considering what are the possible options for future Caribbean trading relations with post-Brexit “Global Britain”. Moreover, should one of the options be participation in a Commonwealth-wide free trade agreement (FTA)?

UK-CARICOM Trading Relations

The UK and the Commonwealth Caribbean have a shared and close relationship which goes beyond historical, cultural and diplomatic ties. While Commonwealth Caribbean countries’ trade with the United States dwarfs trade with the UK, the latter remains the region’s largest trading partner within Europe. Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Member States, as part of the CARIFORUM (CARICOM plus the Dominican Republic), enjoy preferential access to the UK market under the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) signed in October 2008.

As the EU agreements to which the UK is currently part will cease to apply to the UK once it has completely withdrawn from the EU, here is what CARICOM/CARIFORUM will losing preferential access to (a) the world’s fifth largest economy (or sixth largest according to some reports), (b) a market of over 64 million people which includes a Caribbean diaspora population whose potential demand for Caribbean goods and services and as a source of diaspora investment still remains largely under-exploited, and (c) a trading partner with a shared language, shared culture and shared values and a common law legal system which brings a level of assurance and certainty for cross-border commerce.

Merchandise trade aside, the UK is an important source of tourist arrivals for many Caribbean countries, while in Barbados, for example, British high net worth individuals (HNWIs) are the largest buyers of luxury real estate on the island, making the UK the largest source of real estate foreign direct investment (FDI) into the island.

Whilst the UK cannot formally commence negotiations with third States until it has left the EU, the May Government has reportedly already begun preliminary informal trade talks with some States. Indeed, several countries around the world, including Commonwealth states like Australia, Canada and India have lined up in hopes of being among the first negotiate post-Brexit trade agreements with the UK. Here in the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic has also signalled its interest in a post-Brexit UK-DR FTA as the UK is apparently the Dominican Republic’s fastest growing market for Dominican exports according to the statement made by the DR’s Ambassador to the UK.

To this point, it is heartening to note that Prime Minister May has bucked the protectionist trend and intends to expand the UK’s trading relations around the world under her “Global Britain” banner. Indeed, Mrs. May argued that one of the compelling reasons for Brexit was so Britain would be free to expand its trade with the rest of the world on its own terms. The door is clearly open to the region for dialogue.

Possible Options for post-Brexit UK-CARICOM/CARIFORUM Relations

As I see it, the possible options for post-Brexit UK-CARICOM/CARIFORUM trading relations are as follows:

  1. Interim Arrangement which preserves EPA-level concessions before an FTA can be negotiated
  2. Negotiation of a UK-CARICOM or UK-CARIFORUM FTA
  3. Commonwealth FTA
  4. Most Favoured Nation (trading under WTO rules)

The Commonwealth Advantage?

This discussion is even more interesting in light of what is clearly a Commonwealth pivot by the UK government as it seeks to map its future trade policy and relations. Most CARICOM countries are member states of the 52-member Commonwealth of Nations, an intergovernmental organisation which consists primarily of former British colonies and current dependencies spanning Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe and the Pacific.

The Commonwealth is not a trade bloc. However, despite the absence of a Commonwealth FTA, intra-Commonwealth trade and investment flows are substantial and growing. According to a 2015 report released by the Commonwealth, not only is “trade between Commonwealth members on average 20 per cent higher and trade costs are 19 per cent lower compared with in trading between other partners”, but intra-Commonwealth trade is expected to reach 1 trillion by 2020. The Secretariat’s International Trade Policy section also publishes very timely  and insightful research on trade matters. A good example is this brief which was part of the Meeting documents.

However, despite this, Commonwealth Trade Ministers have not met frequently. This is why the Inaugural Commonwealth Trade Ministers Meeting two weeks ago was such a momentous event.  From all reports the meeting was not only well-attended but the ministers discussed prospects for deepening intra-Commonwealth trade and investment ties using the “Commonwealth Advantage”. Inter alia, Ministers directed the Secretariat to “develop pragmatic and practical options to increase Commonwealth trade and investment”, to regularise and institutionalise Trade Minister meetings, and to cooperate on the implementation of the WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement.

The prospect of a Commonwealth-wide FTA has been floated informally, although it does not yet appear to be a firm policy proposal. The arguments for a Commonwealth FTA include a ready market of over 2.4 billion people yoked by a shared language and history, common principles and values, respect for the rule of law, the common law legal system, all of which form part of the “Commonwealth Advantage”. Additionally, it is argued by proponents of a pan-Commonwealth FTA that the potential for even greater intra-Commonwealth trade and investment should be harnessed as a buttress against rising protectionism and slowing global trade which are potentially harmful for Commonwealth developing States.

To be sure, the Commonwealth brings important value for the Caribbean. It has, for example, developed a strong small states agenda, which is not surprising given that thirty-one of its member States are small States. As an illustration, the Commonwealth launched the Commonwealth Small States Trade Finance Facility in 2015. Moreover, the fact that the current Secretary-General, Dame Patricia Scotland QC, is a daughter of the soil is also an advantage for the region.

There is also, of course, merit to fomenting closer commercial and political ties with fellow Commonwealth countries as some of the more developed Commonwealth countries are part of influential fora like the Group of 20 (G20), Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the Financial Action Taskforce (FATF) where Commonwealth Caribbean countries are not represented.  This is doubly important in light of the on-going slowdown in global trade flows, an apparent retreat from multilateralism and rising protectionism. Moreover, Commonwealth Caribbean countries have been seeking to diversify their trading partners, including source markets for tourism, foreign investment and international business and deepening ties with the rest of the Commonwealth could be useful.

Nonetheless, while I have not done any econometric analysis on what would be the possible economic and welfare benefits of any Commonwealth FTA for CARICOM/CARIFORUM, given the length of time it may take to negotiate a Commonwealth FTA, the varying levels of development, the differences in economic profile, and the diverse offensive and defensive interests of the various Commonwealth Member States which will need to be managed, the negotiation of a Commonwealth-wide FTA will not be an easy task. Therefore, I submit that the Caribbean region’s interests will, at least in the short to medium term, be better served by either negotiating an interim arrangement  with the UK which preserves EPA-level concessions until an FTA can be negotiated or negotiating an FTA with the UK straight off the bat.

So what should a possible UK-CARICOM/CARIFORUM take into account?

CARICOM countries have limited experience in negotiating FTAs with developed countries. So far the EPA is the region’s only completed FTA with a developed partner, as the Canada-CARICOM negotiations are currently in abeyance. Perhaps, fortuitously, the UK has even less experience with negotiating trade agreements, as trade negotiations have hitherto been handled exclusively by the European Commission, pursuant to the EU’s common commercial policy. So both parties, despite the power asymmetry, will be on a learning curve.

Commitments made under any prospective UK-CARICOM/CARIFORUM free trade agreement should take into account the sustainable development and economic growth needs and interests of both parties in a mutually beneficial way, while also taking into account differential levels of development among CARICOM/CARIFORUM countries.

CARICOM/CARIFORUM countries will also want at least the same level of concessions for their service suppliers, particularly in Mode 4 (Presence of Natural Persons) which has been the mode of supply which is the least liberalised. Additionally, as capital-importing States, CARICOM/CARIFORUM countries will likely wish to negotiate an investment chapter which protects, promotes and liberalises investment between CARICOM/CARIFORUM and the UK for the mutual development of both parties.

Of course, stakeholder consultations with not just the private sector but also civil society and citizens at large should continue to inform the region’s negotiating positions, including whether there is actually the need for an UK-CARICOM FTA and what are the region’s offensive and defensive interests.

FTA negotiations can take several years. The EPA negotiations, for instance, had been launched in April 2004 and the Agreement was not signed until October 2008. Therefore, unless a WTO-compatible interim arrangement could be negotiated whereby the UK agrees to continue EPA-type concessions to the region until a UK-CARICOM/CARIFORUM FTA is negotiated, it is possible that UK-CARICOM/CARIFORUM trade relations may revert to MFN conditions. Even so, while the UK is also a WTO member in its own right, its schedules are part of the EU’s which means the country will have to work out its own tariff schedules under the WTO post-Brexit. Additionally, WTO MFN conditions will not afford CARIFORUM countries the level of market access, especially for their service suppliers in the UK market, that they currently enjoy under the EPA.

Although the argument is often rightly made that the Caribbean region will be at the low rung of the negotiation priority ladder, I believe that the region cannot sit idly by as the clock begins ticking come Wednesday. While other major countries have begun to erect barriers, the May Government’s “Global Britain” outlook is a welcomed open door for the region. We should at least signal to the May government our interest in beginning talks on cementing a mutually beneficial UK-CARICOM/CARIFORUM trading arrangement post-Brexit, and take steps to do the ground work for such an eventuality.

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 – March 19-25, 2017

Welcome to the Caribbean Trade and Development Digest for the week of March 19-25,2017!  I am pleased to share some of the major trade and development headlines and analysis across the Caribbean region and the World.

It is “Brexit Week”! This Wednesday United Kingdom (UK) Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to trigger Article 50, beginning the formal process of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union (EU). I trust you will enjoy this week’s edition of our Caribbean Trade and Development Digest!

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 NEWS

Grenada joins list of CARICOM countries to ban corned beef from Brazil 

Jamaica Observer: Grenada has join the list of countries within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), to place a ban on the importation and consumption of corned beef from Brazil. Read more 

Dominican Republic: Plantain contribution vital to GDP

Fresh Plaza: The Dominican Republic’s plantain sector contributes more than RD $14.000 million per year to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and it is one of the products that promotes the economy’s development the most, stated the chief executive of the Dominican Agribusiness Board, Osmar Benitez. Read more 

CARICOM to introduce secure, harmonised skills certificate

Antigua Observer: The Caribbean Community (Caricom) said it will be implementing a harmonised skills certificate with a range of security features under the Caricom Single Market & Economy (CSME) regime. Read more 

EU wants to advance common agenda with CARICOM in global fora

Nation News: The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) on Wednesday accredited a new Ambassador of the European Union (EU), with the new envoy advocating for the relationship to more effectively advance a common agenda in global and multilateral fora. Read more 

Jamaica, Brazil face off over “bully beef”

Jamaica Observer: Jamaica and Brazil appear to be heading towards a trade row over the island’s ban on corned beef imported from that South American country as both sides yesterday took hard positions on the measure. Read more 

Finland expresses interest in CARICOM’s bioenergy potential

Jamaica Gleaner: Finland has expressed an interest in exploring the bioenergy potential in mainland territories of the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries. Read more 

EUR 24m in support to the Caribbean’s private sector

St Lucia Times: The European Union (EU) have signed the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) agreement worth EUR 24 Million to support regional private sector development. Read more 

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Trump to review all 14 US FTAs

Fortune: The Trump administration is preparing new executive orders to re-examine all 14 U.S. free trade agreements and review government procurement policies to aid American companies, two administration officials said. Read more 

EU, Mercosur Countries Work to Speed up trade talks 

ICTSD Bridges: Talks on a potential trade deal between the EU and Mercosur have reportedly been gaining renewed traction, with diplomats from both trading partners affirming their commitment to bringing the long-running negotiations closer to a successful conclusion. Read more 

Pacific countries to sign deal next month

Radio New Zealand: Pacific Island countries are expected to sign the proposed regional trade deal called PACER Plus next month. Read more 

Anti-Brexit protesters march in London 

The Australian: Tens of thousands of protesters marched in London against plans for Britain to withdraw from the European Union. Read more 

China, Australia work together to develop Asia-Pacific Trade

Global Times: At a time of uncertainty, where protectionist economic policy poses some threats to the broader global market, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang‘s visit to Australia has highlighted the importance of the two nation’s responsibility to work together and develop trade in the Asia-Pacific. Read more 

Africa Trade Meeting Has no Africans after Visa denials

VOA: Each year, the University of Southern California brings delegations from Africa to meet with business leaders, government officials and others in the U.S. But this year, the African summit has no Africans. All were denied visas. Read more 

Outcomes from FATF annual Private Sector Consultative Forum

FATF: The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) held its annual Private Sector Consultative Forum on 20-22 March 2017 in Vienna, Austria, hosted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).Read more 

Japanese, European leaders push for swift conclusion to trade talks

ICTSD Bridges: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday 20 March in Hanover, renewing calls to finalise negotiations on a EU-Japan free trade accord and defending open and fair trade. Read more 

Wildlife Trade: China Reports drop in demand for ivory

ICTSD Bridges: The past month has seen a series of domestic efforts aimed at addressing different aspects of wildlife trade, from the implementation of measures to further regulate or curb ivory sales in various countries and a debate in South Africa over domestic trade in rhino horn. Read more 

MacAuley Looks to tap Asia-Pacific trade for Canada

The Guardian: MacAulay held talks with his counterparts in both countries to promote Canadian products like lobster, livestock genetics, blueberries, grains and oilseeds. Read more 

Algeria ready to strengthen trade with South Africa

Brand South Africa: Algerian ambassador to South Africa Abd-El-Naceur Belaid called for stronger economic partnerships between Algeria and South Africa at an Algeria-South Africa trade and investment summit held in Johannesburg. Read more 

Canada aims to avoid Brexit cliff-edge with trade talks 

Toronto Star: The government is pushing for its trade deal with Europe to be ratified by Britain before it leaves the European Union to secure the crucial agreement. It also has its eye on deeper relations with the U.K. once Brexit is complete. Read more

RCEP “another important path” for trade liberalisation

Channel News Asia: Even as the United States has pulled out from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), both Singapore and Vietnam are “watching how things will develop” on the trade pact, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, at the end of his visit to Vietnam on Friday (Mar 24). Read more 

Panels established to review US renewable energy measures and Russian transit restrictions

WTO News: The Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) agreed on 21 March to the establishment of two new dispute panels: one to review a complaint filed by India regarding certain measures at the state level in the United States to promote renewable energy; and the second to review Ukraine’s complaint regarding restrictions on goods in transit through the Russian Federation. Read more 

UK Food Lobby Calls for Tariff-Free Post Brexit Trade with EU

Bloomberg: Industry bodies representing the U.K. food supply chain have called on the government to seek a tariff-free trade agreement with the European Union during coming Brexit negotiations. Read more 

Malaysia remains open on TPP

The Borneo Post: Malaysia is still keeping its options open on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) as 10 of its signatories met in Chile last week, said International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed. Read more 

US Chamber urges quick vote on USTR pick: Lighthizer

The Hill: The nation’s largest business lobby on Wednesday threw its support behind President Trump’s pick to lead U.S. trade policy. Read more 

Mexico prepared to “step away” from NAFTA if negotiations don’t benefit the country

Mercopress: Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray said that if North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations don’t benefit all parties involved, the country is willing to “step away” from it. In an interview with Bloomberg, he said pulling out of NAFTA would be a last resort. Read more 

Trumps pipeline permit to TransCanada

USA Today: The company responsible for the Keystone XL oil pipeline said Friday that President Trump’s administration signed off on the project, clearing a hurdle for a polarizing endeavor that has rankled environmentalists and inspired hope for jobs among supporters. Read more 

Trump trade negotiator wants stronger ties with Taiwan 

China Post: U.S. President Donald Trump’s nominee for trade representative has urged stronger bilateral ties with Taiwan, according to a report released Tuesday. Read more 

CTLD NEWS 

Read my latest commentary Sport, Entrepreneurship and Development

Caribbean Trade Law & Development (CTLD) and the Africa Caribbean & Pacific Young Professionals Network (ACP YPN)  have submitted joint written evidence to the United Kingdom (UK) House of Commons’ International Trade Committee’s on-going UK-US Trade Relations Inquiry . The inquiry  is examining the potential for a trade agreement between a post-BREXIT UK and the United States  of America (US).Our joint submission has been published on the UK House of Commons’ ITC’s website and may be viewed here.

Liked this issue? Read past issues of our weekly Caribbean Trade & Development Digest, please visit here. To receive these mailings directly to your inbox, please follow our blog.

ACP YPN and CTLD submit joint Written Evidence in UK-US Trade Relations Inquiry

Caribbean Trade Law & Development (CTLD) and the Africa Caribbean & Pacific Young Professionals Network (ACP YPN)  have submitted joint written evidence to the United Kingdom (UK) House of Commons’ International Trade Committee’s on-going UK-US Trade Relations Inquiry . The inquiry  is examining the potential for a trade agreement between a post-BREXIT UK and the United States  of America (US).
Noting the importance of having a youth voice in this process, our joint submission referenced the important issue of ensuring market access for UK young professionals in the US market and ensuring that youth are given the opportunity to contribute to monitoring any negotiated agreement. The submission also emphasised the importance of including a development chapter into the Agreement.
ACP YPN and CTLD are grateful for the opportunity to have been able to represent the views of youth on this important matter.
Our joint submission has been published on the UK House of Commons’ ITC’s website and may be viewed here.
About the Contributors

The African Caribbean and Pacific Young Professionals Network (ACP YPN) provides a platform for young people to play an active role in policy-making processes at the national, regional and international levels.

Caribbean Trade Law & Development Consulting (CTLD Consulting) is a Caribbean-based consulting firm and think tank specialising in international trade, development and international business research, policy advocacy and consulting.

Click here for more CTLD News and Announcements.

Caribbean Trade & Development Digest – March 12-18, 2017

Welcome to the Caribbean Trade and Development Digest for the week of March 12-18,2017!  I am pleased to share some of the major trade and development headlines and analysis across the Caribbean region and the World.

We apologise for the absence of a Trade & Development Digest for the week of March 5-11, 2017 and trust you will enjoy this week’s edition. Some major news from the past week and a half were the Commonwealth Trade Ministers Meeting, the G20 Finance Ministers Meeting and the challenges to US President Trump’s new travel ban.

On a sad note, we also would like to take this opportunity to express our condolences on the passing of literary giant, St. Lucian born poet and playwright and 1992 Nobel Peace Prize in Literature winner, the late Mr. Derek Walcott who passed away last week.

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 NEWS

Customs World inks cooperation Agreement with Dominican Customs

Dubai News: Customs World, a subsidiary of Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation in Dubai, has signed an agreement of cooperation with the General Directorate of Customs of the Dominican Republic. Read more

French rum brand buy stake in National Rums

Jamaica Gleaner: Goddard Enterprises Limited of Barbados has exited its investment in National Rums Jamaica Limited (NRJ) under a wider deal worth nearly US$13 million that hands ownership to a French company called United Caribbean Rum Limited. Read more

Delays continue over signing of Guyana-EU trade agreement to combat illegal logging

Mongabay: Guyana’s plan to sign a trade agreement with the European Union by the end of 2016 to combat illegal logging has been delayed again. Read more

DR: Haitian Customs Retain Dominican Goods at Border

HaitiLibre: Dominican merchants reported that several trucks loaded with plantains, bananas, carrots, lemons and other Creole products were retained at the Jimani-Malpasse border by the Haitian authorities. Read more

CARICOM seeks FATCA delay, but law may prove irrelevant 

Cayman Compass: The Caribbean Community is looking at spending nearly quarter of a million dollars on a Washington-based consultant to lobby the Trump administration about the Foreign Accounts Tax Compliance Act. Read more

Industry Ministry says Jamaica to expand exports to UK

Jamaica Observer: Chief Technical Director in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Stephen Wedderburn has reiterated Jamaica’s commitment to expand export of produce and products to the United Kingdom. Read more

Jamaica hopeful of banana export recovery

Fruitnet: Plans to invest almost €5m of EU funding in Jamaica’s banana sector are advancing well, according to reports in the country, raising the prospect  of the Caribbean nation restoring its former key position in the international market. Read more

King Pepper re-enters Canadian market

Jamaica Gleaner: King Pepper Products Limited, manufacturers of the Eaton’s line of seasoning, has re-entered the Canadian market through exports and is hoping to push sales of the product there as well as increase its regional footprint. Read more

Alcazar calls for push to exports

Trinidad & Tobago Newsday: Admitting that it is a difficult time to take over the mantle of President of the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers Association (TTMA), Christopher Alcazar, who was elected on March 9, 2017 at the body’s 61st Annual General Meeting, said he is solution driven and will lead the organisation with a heavy amount of engagement and collaboration with the membership and stakeholders whether Government or different agencies.  Read more

Bureau of Standards monitoring foreign cement

Trinidad Guardian: With the entry of foreign cement on the market, Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon said the T&T Bureau of Standards is continuing to monitor all products to ensure they meet quality standards. Read more

CDB funds project to prevent loss of correspondent banking relationships

Caribbean News Now: The board of directors of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has approved funding of US$250,000 to strengthen financial transparency, and assist in preventing the loss of correspondent banking relationships (CBRs) in the region. Read more

TCL ponders treating T&T waste

Trinidad Guardian: Two months after Mexican cement giant Cemex succeeded in its bid to take over Trinidad Cement Ltd (TCL), managing director Jose Luis Seijo has assured that the company will be dealing aggressively with environmental pollution. Read more

Trinidad’s MHTL cutting methanol production by 25%

ICIS: Trinidad’s leading methanol producer plans to idle 25% of its total capacity because of heavy natural-gas curtailments, sources said on Monday. Read more

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Mexico turns to World Trade Organisation over avocado dispute with Costa Rica

The Costa Rica Star: The World Trade Organization (WTO) stated today that Mexico had requested consultations with Costa Rica as, allegedly, this country unlawfully imposed a restriction on Mexican avocado imports. Read more

Trump Travel Ban: Hawaii judge declines to narrow injunction

Politico: A federal judge in Hawaii who issued a temporary restraining order against key parts of President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban last week has turned down a Justice Department request to narrow the injunction. Read more

Decade old trade pledge dropped at G20 Meeting

Reuters: Try as they might, G20 nations in the German spa town of Baden-Baden could not persuade U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin at the weekend to agree to a joint pledge to resist protectionism so the phrase in question – a fixture of G20 communiques for a decade – was dropped. Read more

Mustapa: RCEP is next best option to junked TPPA

The Star Online: The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is the next best option to boost trade after the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) fell through. International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said Malaysia is not keen to salvage the TPPA with the other 10 nations after the United States pulled out of the trade pact. Read more

EU, ASEAN Ministers agree to consider trade talks reboot

ICTSD Bridges: The EU and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are preparing to examine the prospect of re-launching talks for a region-to-region trade accord, nearly eight years after the original plans for such a project were put on hold. Read more

South Korea lobbies China at WTO over Missile Shield trade spat

Bloomberg: South Korea has taken a tentative first step against China at the World Trade Organization, complaining about its economic retaliation over the planned deployment of a U.S. missile shield. Read more

Commonwealth Trade Ministers conclude Meeting in London

Nation News: Commonwealth trade and business ministers concluded their two-day meeting in London with a commitment to make full use of the ‘Commonwealth Advantage’ to boost trade within the 52-member grouping. Read more

Brexit costly in trade terms whatever deal reach, says former WTO DG Pascal Lamy

Reuters: Britain’s departure from the European Union will be costly for both sides in trade terms, however good the exit deal reached, former head of the World Trade Organization Pascal Lamy said on Thursday. Read more

Brazil’s rotten meat scandal breaks amidst fresh EU talks

Euractiv: The European Union has insisted Brazilian representatives attend an emergency meeting today (20 March) to explain themselves regarding a scandal involving rotten meat and the country’s two largest exporters. Read more

Drive replace UK-EU trade ties with Commonwealth

Guardian (UK): Britain would harmonise regulations with its former colonies rather than the European Union under new proposals for trade integration that critics have dubbed Empire 2.0. Read more

CTLD NEWS

Alicia Nicholls was a panellist at TTOC Sport Conference 2017

I was honoured to be a panellist on “Panel III: Protecting the Legal Idea and Other Legal Issues for the Enterpreneur” at the Trinidad & Tobago Olympic Committee’s Future of Sport Conference 2017 which took place at Hotel Normandie in St. Ann’s, Trinidad on March 9th.  My fellow panellists were Shyamal Chandradathsingh of Invest TT, and entertainment and sport attorney, Carla Parris. The conference was ably moderated by Ms. Racquel Moses of ACCA Caribbean.

17203065_10158384295270444_8488981909036060187_n

Panel #3: L-R, Moderator (Racquel Moses), Panellists: Shyamal Chandradathsingh, Carla Parris, Alicia Nicholls (me)

The key note speaker was Dr. Terrence Farrell, former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Trinidad & Tobago and current chairman of the Economic Development Advisory Board.

The second annual conference hosted by TTOC, this year’s conference was designed to take audience members on a journey from conception of the business idea to execution. The panels focused on conception of the business idea, perspectives and best practices from entrepreneurs, protecting the idea, the importance of business plans and funding the venture.

Fellow panellists Carla Parris, Je-Anne Borneo (Panel #4) and I also enjoyed acting as judges for a business idea competition at the end of the Conference.

I wish to sincerely thank Mr. Brian Lewis, President of the TTOC for his kind invitation to be a panellist and commend both Mr. Lewis and his capable TTOC Team, the moderator Ms. Racquel Moses, and all fellow panellists and the audience members for an excellent conference. For further photos and videos from the Conference, please see the TTOC’s Facebook page.

Liked this issue? Read past issues of our weekly Caribbean Trade & Development Digest, please visit here. To receive these mailings directly to your inbox, please follow our blog.

« Older Entries Recent Entries »