Brexit: Provisional Transition Deal Struck between EU and UK

Alicia Nicholls

A provisional agreement has been struck between the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom with regard to the terms of the latter’s withdrawal from the EU.

The 129-page provisional withdrawal agreement touches on a wide number of areas from  residence, employment rights and social security systems to public procurement and cooperation in criminal and civil matters. The Agreement provides for a transition period lasting from the date of entry into force of the Agreement until 31 December 2020.

Most of the provisions have been agreed to, with some remaining areas still subject to further negotiation. One of these unresolved areas is the Draft Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland.

A key concession is that the UK will be able to negotiate trade deals with third States during the transition period.

Some aspects of the provisional deal, however, have received some push back in the UK. A particular sore point is that UK fishing policy will continue to be Brussels-controlled during the transition period, although the agreement provides for the UK to be “consulted”.

More details to come

The text of the provisional agreement 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.

Caribbean Trade & Development Digest – March 11-17, 2018

Welcome to the Caribbean Trade and Development Digest for the week of March 11-17, 2018! We are pleased to share some of the major trade and development headlines and analysis across the Caribbean region and the World. We hope you enjoy this edition.

REGIONAL

Work to begin on new CARICOM Strategic Plan

Barbados Advocate: By year end the CARICOM Secretariat will be hard at work getting the framework in place for the new strategic plan for the Caribbean Community. Read more

CSME MER Framework Workshop 

Barbados Advocate: It is imperative that systems be put in place to more effectively monitor and evaluate the CARICOM integration journey. So says Dr. Richard Brown, Director, CARICOM Single Market and Sectoral Programmes. Read more 

CARICOM observer mission releases preliminary statement on Grenada elections

CARICOM: At the invitation of the Government of Grenada the CARICOM Secretariat constituted an eleven-member team to observe Grenada’s Parliamentary Election held March 13, 2018.The full statement may be read here.

Protecting consumers in the CSME

CARICOM: It is important to consider the protection of the consumer as many persons now engage suppliers in a different jurisdiction. This was posited by a senior official from the Caribbean Community (CARICOMSecretariat during the Barbados Fair Trading Commission’s (FTC) annual lecture series held in Barbados. Read more 

INTERNATIONAL

EU Lists US Exports it could hit 

CNNMoney: The EU has published a list of hundreds of American products that it could target if President Donald Trump moves forward with new tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum. Read more 

EP wants to include gender equality in free-trade agreements

EURACTIV: The European Parliament has adopted a resolution to better account for gender equality in trade agreements. The commission could follow up on the resolution in its agreement with Chile, which would be the first to integrate such a chapter. Read more 

India-EU trade: India, EU to decide fate of trade agreement next month

Economic Times: New Delhi: India and the European Union will discuss next month resumption of the much-delayed Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) that hasn’t progressed much over the past five years. Read more 

Vietnamese farmers expect higher profits with CPTPP

Vietnam Net: At least $40 billion worth of export turnover from farm produce in 2018 is within reach, some experts believe. Read more 

Trade deals a priority at ASEAN-Australia summit 

Australian Financial Review: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is pushing for free trade deals with Indonesia and the wider region to be signed by the end of this year, as he insisted there were “no protectionists” around the table at the ASEAN-Australia summit in Sydney. Read more 

Buhari cancels Rwanda trip, reconsiders signing African trade agreement

Premium Times: President Muhammadu Buhari has cancelled his trip to Kigali, Rwanda scheduled for Monday. Mr. Buhari was expected to attend an Extraordinary Summit of the African Union (AU) on Tuesday, March 21, to sign the framework agreement for establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area. Read more 

Top five trade deals that changed history

World Finance: Today, the global trading network is well established, but it has taken multiple decades and various trade agreements to reach the current degree of complexity. Read more 

Jordan suspends free trade agreement with Turkey

Ahval: The Jordanian government suspended a free trade agreement with Turkey, citing unfair competition, the Jordan Times reported. Read more

Winners and Losers in an EU-UK agreement

Financial Times: Read the article here.

Indonesian President Widodo wants a free trade agreement with Australia

Sydney Morning Herald: Indonesian President Joko Widodo will push to sign off an Australia-Indonesia free trade agreement when he meets Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull this weekend, declaring that only “technical” details were delaying the deal. Read more 

The Globe and Mail: Now that International Trade Minister François-Philippe Champagne has put Canada’s signature on the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) agreement, the doors to the Asia-Pacific are about to crack open for Canadian businesses. Read more 

Severing NAFTA ties harms much more than trade

The Hill: U.S. ties with Mexico and Canada touch the daily lives of more Americans than ties with any other two countries in the world. Trade, border connections, tourism, family ties and mutual security concerns link us closely, but we are endangering those links and our wellbeing by a contentious modernization of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Read more 

What impact will trade agreements have on global food markets?

Devex: The political uncertainty surrounding the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement and North American Free Trade Agreement, as well as the implications of Brexit, has left experts struggling to understand what their impacts will have on markets — particularly in developing countries. Read more 

BONUS

Trade War Bad for Region

My commentary in the Business Authority of March 18 (page 15) on the possible fall-out of any trade war between the US and other major trading powers on the Caribbean.

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Caribbean Trade & Development Digest – March 4-11, 2018

Welcome to the Caribbean Trade and Development Digest for the week of March 4-11, 2018! We are pleased to share some of the major trade and development headlines and analysis across the Caribbean region and the World. We hope you enjoy this edition.

REGIONAL

CARICOM Institutions talk CSME Free Movement of Persons

CARICOM: The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat this week engaged regional institutions based in Barbados on the processes for Free Movement of persons under the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME). Read more 

Trade Stakeholders from the Public and Private Sectors in St. Kitts and Nevis to Explore Importance of Trade in Services

WINN FM: Trade stakeholders from the public and private sectors are currently participating in a three day Seminar on the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) in St. Kitts and Nevis with the aim to better understand the importance of services sectors from an international trade perspective. Read more 

CARICOM Reviews Dutch Territories’ Applications For Membership

Curacao Chronicle: Even as the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) continues to examine the issue of an enlargement policy, heads of government have mandated the secretary-general to begin negotiations for associate membership by the Dutch territories of Curaçao and Sint Maarten. Read more 

CARICOM seeking to step-up implementation of building codes

St Kitts & Nevis Observer: Recognising that implementing building codes is still a significant challenge to the region’s efforts to build resilience, CARICOM heads of government have asked the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) to provide recommendations to expedite implementation of the codes. Read more 

Regional Standards to be set for quality and safety of coconut water 

Barbados Advocate: Given concerns about food safety issues in relation to the quality of coconut water sold at retailers in Barbados and across the region, efforts are being made to establish regional coconut water quality standards and protocols, to better protect consumers. Read more 

Chastanet supports OECS oversight of Citizenship by Investment

St Lucia Times: Prime Minister, Allen Chastanet, has said that Saint Lucia supports the idea of the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) being run out of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS). Read more 

Consumer Protection in Digital Era is CARICOM goal

St. Kitts & Nevis Observer: It is important to consider the protection of the consumer as many persons now engage suppliers in a different jurisdiction. This was posited by a senior official from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat during the Barbados Fair Trading Commission’s (FTC) annual lecture series held 8 March at the Accra Beach Hotel & Spa in Barbados. Read more 

Exports down in January

Breaking Belize News: Belize’s exports got off to a rough start in 2018, falling by more than 20 percent when compared to January 2017, according to the Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB). Read more 

New trade dispute brewing with Jamaica 

Trinidad Guardian: Jamaican manufacturers say they intend to approach the island’s Anti-Dumping and Subsidies Commission after accusing their T&T counterparts of dumping flour onto the local market. Read more 

Barbados No.1 with travellers

Nation News: Seventy thousand travellers across the world have chosen Barbados as their place to visit in the 2017 Destination Satisfaction Index (DSI). Read more

Concern that Caribbean women are still being marginalised

Barbados Today: The economic progress of women in Barbados and the Caribbean as a whole continues to be thwarted, despite gains made in some areas, a senior Jamaican trade official has said. Read more 

INTERNATIONAL

11 countries sign revamped TPP trade deal without US

The Star (Malaysia): Eleven nations signed a slimmed-down version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, moving to lower tariffs just as US President Donald Trump seeks to raise them after withdrawing from the deal. Read more 

In full: Theresa May’s Speech on future UK-EU Relations

BBC: Here is the full text of Theresa May’s Mansion House speech setting out her vision for the UK’s relationship with the EU after Brexit. Read more 

Africa: Women-Friendly Trade – What Can Governments Do Better?

AllAfrica: Informal cross-border trade is one of the oldest forms of economic survival for women. Prevalent across Southern and Eastern Africa, the plight of women traders are well-documented, but policies still tend to overlook their specific needs.  Read more

2018 USTR Trade Agenda Highlights WTO Reform, FTA Talks

ICTSD Bridges: US Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer released the latest version of the annual President’s Trade Policy Agenda last week, outlining the administration’s plans for the coming year. Read more 

Brexit: EU rejects Theresa May’s trade plan

The Independent (UK): The EU has rejected Theresa May’s vision for a post-Brexit trade relationship, laying out its own plans and warning that her choices will have “negative economic consequences” for Britain. Read more 

Report shows extent of endangered animal trade between Africa and Asia

CNN: The report says that almost 1,000 at risk but legally exportable species have been transported from dozens of African nations to countries in East and Southeast Asia between 2006 to 2015. Read more 

Theresa May’s Brexit plan to register millions of EU citizens risks descending into ‘chaos’

Business Insider: Theresa May’s plan to register 3 million EU nationals ahead of Brexit risks failure due to under investment and government fears of a backlash by the Daily Mail, a senior former Home Office official has told Business Insider. Read more 

Trump tariffs: China warns trade war would be ‘disaster’

The Guardian: Any trade war with the United States will only bring disaster to the world economy, the Chinese commerce minister Zhong Shan has said, as Beijing stepped up its criticism of metals tariffs introduced by the White House. Read more 

Canada, Mexico Stick to Nafta Plan After Trump’s Tariff Reprieve

Bloomberg: While Donald Trump ’s tariff gambit spared his NAFTA partners for now, Canada and Mexico are pledging it won’t make them budge at the bargaining table. Read more 

NAFTA termination could result in loss of 85k jobs in Canada: report

Global News: The Conference Board of Canada is predicting a 0.5 per cent decline in the country’s economy resulting in the loss of about 85,000 jobs within a year if the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is terminated. Read more 

Donald Trump signs order for metals tariff plan, prompting fears of trade war

The Guardian (UK): Trump pushes forward with plan for 25% tariff on imports of steel and a 10% tariff on aluminum, but says exceptions will be made. Read more 

Trump threatens with tariffs on European cars as trade war looms

Deutsche Welle: US President Donald Trump has once more attacked the EU over trade barriers and threatened to slap a tax on imports of European cars. His comments come amid fears of a trade war over new US steel and aluminum tariffs. Read more 

Commission extends anti-dumping measures on Chinese steel products

EU: The Commission today prolonged the existing anti-dumping measures on Chinese imports of seamless pipes and tubes of stainless steel for another five years. Read more

EU halts trade barrier investigation after Turkey lifts restrictions on paper

EU: The EU officially halted its probe into trade barriers in Turkey after the country removed measures concerning imports of a particular variety of paper. Read more 

European Commission outlines EU plan to counter US trade restrictions on steel and aluminium

EU: The College of Commissioners discussed today the EU’s response to the possible US import restrictions for steel and aluminium announced on 1 March. Read more 

European Commission responds to the US restrictions on steel and aluminium affecting the EU

EU: The European Commission takes note of the announcement by the President of the United States of the imposition of restrictions in the form of an import surcharge on EU exports to the US of steel and aluminium. Read more 

Members adopt catalogue of instruments for managing food safety, animal, plant health issues

WTO: WTO members successfully concluded almost four years of discussion by adopting the “Catalogue of Instruments” available to WTO members for managing sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) issues, at an SPS Committee meeting on 2 March. Read more

Azevêdo calls on members to avoid triggering an escalation in trade barriers

WTO: DG Azevêdo warned of the risks posed by such measures, calling on members to reflect and avoid escalation. Read more 

Least-developed countries urge WTO members to facilitate use of services waiver

WTO: At a meeting of the Council for Trade in Services on 2nd of March chaired by Ambassador Julian Braithwaite (UK), least-developed Countries (LDCs) called on WTO members to undertake capacity building measures that would enable their suppliers to take advantage of preferential treatment notified under the LDC Services Waiver. Read more

NEW ON CTLD BLOG

ECJ rules arbitration clauses in Intra-EU BITs contrary to EU Law

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ECJ rules arbitration clauses in Intra-EU BITs contrary to EU Law

Alicia Nicholls

In a landmark and much-anticipated judgement delivered on Tuesday, March 6th, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that arbitration clauses in bilateral investment treaties (BITs) concluded between European Union Member States were incompatible with, and had ‘an adverse effect’ on EU law.

The background to the judgement involved a claim brought against the Slovak Republic by a Dutch private sickness insurance services subsidiary, Achmea, after the former had briefly prohibited the distribution of profits generated by private sickness insurance activities. This prohibition was later ruled unconstitutional by that country’s Constitutional Court, and Achmea subsequently brought a claim for damages under the Agreement on encouragement and reciprocal protection of investments between the Kingdom of the Netherlands and Czechoslovakia (Netherlands- Slovak Republic BIT), to which the Slovak Republic had succeeded upon Czechoslovakia’s dissolution.

In 2012 an arbitral tribunal established in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, pursuant to Article 8(2) of the Netherlands-Slovak Republic BIT found in favour of Achmea and ordered the Slovak Republic to pay 22.1 million euros in damages. As German law applied (since Frankfurt am Main was the chosen place of arbitration), the Slovak Republic turned to the German courts to have the arbitral award set aside.

The Slovak Republic argued that the arbitration clause in Article 8 of the Netherlands-Slovak Republic BIT was compatible with Articles 18, 267 and 344 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. Given the importance of this question and its implications for the many remaining intra-EU BITs in force, the German Federal Court of Justice referred this question to the ECJ

In its judgment, the ECJ held that

Articles 267 and 344 TFEU must be interpreted as precluding a provision in an international agreement concluded between Member States, such as Article 8 of the BIT, under which an investor from one of those Member States may, in the event of a dispute concerning investments in the other Member State, bring proceedings against the latter Member State before an arbitral tribunal whose jurisdiction that Member State has undertaken to accept.

The ECJ came to its decision based on the fact that arbitral tribunals established under such treaties may be called on to interpret and apply EU law, but could not be classified as a court or tribunal ‘of a Member State’ within the meaning of Article 267 of the TFEU. The tribunals had no power to refer matters to the ECJ and could stop disputes from “being resolved in a manner that ensures the full effectiveness of EU law even though they might concern the interpretation or application of that law”. The Court went further by stating that Article 8 of the BIT in question “has an adverse effect on the autonomy of EU law” and was not compatible with the principle of sincere cooperation.

Unlike state to state dispute settlement, ISDS allows an investor of a party who believes its rights have been violated to bring a claim directly against the host State before an arbitration tribunal. The rationale was that it precluded investors from having to convince their home State to bring a claim on their behalf, and was also borne out of distrust of the courts in host States (usually mainly developing countries).

ISDS has come under much fire, particularly due to inconsistent arbitral rulings (which are final under most BITs with these clauses), the lack of transparency in the process, and the concern about the system’s implications for States’ regulatory flexibility and authority in the public interest, particularly with regard to the protection of public health and the environment. Moreover, for small States, such as those in the Caribbean, the financial and reputational burdens of an adverse judgement are magnified.

In the EU context, intra-EU BITs have long been a controversial issue due to treaty shopping; investors have often favoured the ISDS provisions in intra-EU BITs over EU judicial channels for the settlement of disputes. This is costly for EU Member States having to defend themselves against claims and has implications for the uniform interpretation of EU law.

Newer investment agreements, including BITs,  have increasingly included express language regarding a party’s right to regulate in the public interest,  have considerably narrowed the scope of applicability of ISDS clauses, or have abandoned ISDS altogether. In light of the growing backlash against ISDS within the EU, the European Commission has already signalled that it is moving away from the ISDS model of dispute settlement in favour of an investment court as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the European Union and Canada shows.

Implications for Caribbean BITs with EU countries  

The ECJ ruling is clear that the ISDS clauses in the nearly 200 BITs currently in force between EU member states inter se are incompatible with EU law. What is not so clear-cut is whether this also applies to BITs concluded between individual EU member countries and third States, such as those in the Caribbean. In such cases, the governing law in such disputes might not be EU law but the law of the third State.

While there is little evidence that the existence of a BIT is a major factor in a European investor’s decision to invest in the Caribbean, given that the BITs existing between European and Caribbean countries are generally of an older vintage and in need of modernisation, the time is ripe to have a relook at the regime for the protection and promotion of investment between the EU and CARIFORUM countries which is currently fragmented. Such a review is provided for under Article 74 of the Agreement.

At the time of the negotiation of the CARIFORUM-EC Economic Partnership Agreement, the European Commission only had competence to negotiate market access for investment, which explains why the investment chapter (Chapter 2: Commercial Presence) of the EPA is limited mainly to market access, national treatment, most favoured nation treatment, with some provisions on investor behaviour and a requirement that parties do not lower standards to attract FDI. More extensive investment protection provisions, such as the controversial fair and equitable treatment clauses, are covered in the BITs between individual EU and Caribbean States, many of which were signed before the EPA and also lack the more development friendly provisions of newer BITs.

Conclusion

The ECJ’s ruling is significant and may be considered another nail in the ISDS coffin. It is worth considering what, if any, impact this ruling may have for EU Member States’ BITs with third States, such as those in the Caribbean, and whether it is time to re-examine the regime for EU-CARIFORUM investment as provided for under Article 74 of the EPA.

The full judgement may be viewed 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.

CARICOM Heads to meet this week for 29th Intersessional HoG Meeting

Alicia Nicholls

Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) will meet this week, February 26 & 27, 2018, in Port au Prince, Haiti for their 29th Intersessional Meeting. The meeting will be chaired by current chairman of the Conference of the Heads of Government, Haitian President, His Excellency Jovenel Moise.

Chairmanship of the Conference of Heads of Government rotates every six months. Haiti, which became a full member of CARICOM in 2002, will hold chairmanship from January 1st to June 30th. Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness will assume chairmanship on July 1st.

Major agenda items for the intersessional meeting include building climate resilience, crime and violence, the impact on CARICOM Member States of blacklisting actions and de-risking actions by global banks.

Additionally, according to the official press release, the meeting “will seek to advance plans to further strengthen key elements of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME)  including those related to travel and trade”.

CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque; the immediate-past CARICOM Chairman, Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell of Grenada and current Chairman, President Moise of Haiti, will make remarks at the Opening Ceremony carded for February 26 and which will be live streamed on CARICOM’s website.

In anticipation of the meeting, Haiti’s Ministry of Trade held a Public Forum last Friday to discuss “Integration of Haiti in CARICOM: Challenges and Opportunities”.

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.

 

Caribbean Trade & Development Digest – February 18-24, 2018

Welcome to the Caribbean Trade and Development Digest for the week of February 18-24, 2018! We are pleased to share some of the major trade and development headlines and analysis across the Caribbean region and the World. We hope you enjoy this edition.

REGIONAL

Building a climate-resilient Community among matters for CARICOM 29th Inter-Sessional Meeting

CARICOM: The Caribbean Community’s push to build a more climate-resilient Community following the devastating 2017 hurricane season is among matters for deliberation by CARICOM Heads of Government at their Twenty-ninth Inter-Sessional Meeting in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, 26 – 27 February 2018. Read more 

Ralph Gonsalves: Golding Report ‘Unworkable’

Jamaica Gleaner: This is an edited address delivered on February 22 at St Vincent and the Grenadines’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs building in Kingstown. Read more 

Growing trade deficits in the Caribbean Netherlands

Netherlands Central Statistics Bureau: In 2017, the trade deficits of Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba were higher than in the previous year. In relative terms, St Eustatius saw the sharpest increase in annual deficit. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this on the basis of new figures. Read more 

World Trade Center Arkansas to Lead Trade Mission to Caribbean

Arkansas Matters: The World Trade Center Arkansas is leading a trade mission for Arkansas companies interested in exporting to Caribbean countries. The mission will go to the Trade Americas – Business Opportunities in the Caribbean Region Conference in Miami, Florida, from May 6-7. Read more 

INTERNATIONAL 

South Korea launches WTO trade challenge against U.S. duties

Reuters: South Korea has launched a wide-ranging complaint at the World Trade Organization to challenge the U.S. use of anti-subsidy and anti-dumping duties, citing their use on steel and transformers, a WTO filing showed on Tuesday. Read more 

India, 37 others seek WTO dispute body’s aid to fill up Appellate Body vacancies

Business Line: A formal submission has been made by 38 World Trade Organisation members including India, the EU, China, Russia, Brazil, Russia, Turkey and Vietnam to the Dispute Settlement Body seeking a decision on launching of a selection process to fill the three vacancies in the seven-member Appellate Body pending for long. Read more 

United States tells WTO of concerns over China’s new web access rules

Reuters: The United States told the World Trade Organization on Friday that Chinese internet access rules coming into force next month appeared to create significant new restrictions for cross-border service suppliers and should be discussed at the WTO. Read more 

Canada To Open Free Trade Talks With Mercosur Group Of South American Countries

Huffpost Canada: The Canadian government plans to open free trade talks with the four-nation Mercosur trading bloc in South America, an official said on Friday, at a time when the future of NAFTA is facing increasing uncertainty. Read more 

India Calls for Changes in WTO to Transform World Economy

News18: India on Sunday called for bringing changes in Geneva-based World Trade Organisation (WTO) to transform the global economy. Read more 

Egypt passes 4th WTO Trade Policy Review

AllAfrica: Egypt managed to pass the World Trade Organization (WTO)’s fourth review of the trade policies and practices of Egypt that took place on February 20-22. Read more

Full text of CPTPP released

Newsroom New Zealand: The Government has released the full text of the controversial CPTPP trade deal, along with a national interest analysis touting its importance in fighting growing protectionism around the world. Read more

French farmers hold tractor protests in Mercosur warning to Macron

Independent (Ireland): French farmers drove tractors through town centres and blocked highways on Wednesday to oppose extra agricultural imports from South America, raising pressure on President Emmanuel Macron in the run-up to a politically sensitive Paris farm show. Read more 

New NAFTA talks aim to clear pathway to toughest issues

Reuters: Mexico and Canada aim to finish reworking less contentious chapters of the NAFTA trade deal with the United States in new talks beginning on Sunday, hoping to clear the path for a breakthrough on the toughest issues before upcoming elections. Read more 

NAFTA talks go into their seventh round. Canada isn’t optimistic

Washington Post: When Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited the United States this month, he didn’t go to the White House. Instead, he visited the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, where he was presented with pages of the original U.S.-Canada Free Trade Agreement, signed by President Ronald Reagan 30 years ago. Read more

KPMG executive says businesses not using free-trade benefits

The Australian: Australian businesses are not substantially increasing their use of the Asian free-trade agreements each year and the Coalition needs to overhaul its trade policies, a KPMG executive says. Read more 

Press release: CEPA EU – Indonesia trade agreement round

TNI: Today, over 20 representatives from civil society organisations from the Indonesia and the European union, had a long meeting with negotiators of the new trade agreement between the EU and Indonesia (CEPA – Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement).  Read more

Korea initiates WTO complaint against US anti-dumping, countervailing duties

WTO: Korea has requested WTO consultations with the United States concerning the use of “facts available” by US investigating authorities in anti-dumping and countervailing investigations. The request was circulated to WTO members on 20 February. Read more

WTO members agree on timetable to review use of Bali tariff quota mechanism

WTO: At a meeting of the Agriculture Committee on 20 February, WTO members agreed on a timeline to review the operation of the 2013 Bali Ministerial Decision on tariff rate quotas and discussed a review of the landmark Nairobi Decision to eliminate farm export subsidies. Norway, Israel and Canada reported they had submitted revised schedules, formalizing their promises to eliminate these subsidies. Read more

WTO issues panel report regarding Korean restrictions on Japanese food imports

WTO: On 22 February the WTO circulated the panel report in the case brought by Japan in “Korea — Import Bans, and Testing and Certification Requirements for Radionuclides” (DS495). Read more 

Trade Facilitation Agreement marks first anniversary since entry into force

WTO: The Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) marked its first anniversary since its entry into force on 22 February 2017 with WTO members making significant strides towards its implementation. WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo said members continue to work to fully implement the Agreement, which will benefit particularly developing and least developed countries. Read more

Move aside, NAFTA: New fear on the Canada-U.S. front involves steel tariffs

CTV News: A new concern about Canada’s relationship with the United States is emerging in the foreground, with threats of global steel and aluminum tariffs now competing with NAFTA uncertainty as a source of economic anxiety. Read more

Cabinet okays trade agreement with Canada

The Slovak Spectator: Slovakia’s government greenlighted the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) at its February 21 session. Read more 

NEW ON CTLD BLOG

US House of Representatives passes GSP Renewal Bill; on to Senate

Golding Commission concerned about Caribbean Citizenship by Investment Programmes

Liked this issue? To 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.

Caribbean Trade & Development Digest – February 11-18, 2018

Welcome to the Caribbean Trade and Development Digest for the week of February 11-18, 2018! We are pleased to share some of the major trade and development headlines and analysis across the Caribbean region and the World. We hope you enjoy this edition.

REGIONAL

Lack of financial transparency at CARICOM Secretariat – Golding Report

Antigua Observer: The lack of transparency surrounding the finances of the CARICOM Secretariat has found its way into the “Golding Report,” which examines relations between Jamaica and CARICOM and CARIFORUM, with a call for the revamping of the institution’s accountability procedures. Read more

(Caribbean) Region hits 30 million visitor mark

CTO:  The catastrophic hurricanes that devastated some Caribbean destination last September slowed down tourism’s progress but did not stop it, according to figures released by the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), the authority on regional tourism statistics. Read more 

Gov’t explores new system to track and boost tourist spend

Barbados Today: Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy has disclosed that a new system was being developed to better capture and monitor tourist spend in Barbados as Government continued to seek ways to grow the sector. Read more

Government looks to boost CSME access for Jamaicans

JIS: The Government will be intensifying efforts for Jamaican skilled workers and businesses to have greater access to the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME). Read more 

Barbados trade mission to Guyana

CBC (Barbados): Barbados is hoping to increase its trade relations with Guyana as a 10-member trade mission opens a two-day visit here Monday. Read more 

Holness to assume chairmanship of CARICOM

Jamaica Observer: Prime Minister Andrew Holness is to assume the Chairmanship of CARICOM from 1st July to 31st December 2018. Read more 

‘Deathly afraid’ for local ownership under WTO

Tribune242: Arawak Homes’ chairman is “deathly afraid” that WTO membership will undermine Bahamian economic ownership because many locally-owned firms cannot compete internationally. Read more 

SLCSI introduces new executive board

St. Lucia News Online: The Saint Lucia Coalition of Service Industries (SLCSI) is one of the twelve national service coalitions within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Dominican Republic (CARIFORUM collectively) and also the Caribbean Network of Service Coalitions (CNSC). Read more 

INTERNATIONAL

Azevêdo joins ACP brainstorming session: ‘we need to explore innovative ways forward’

WTO: Speaking at a meeting of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) at the WTO’s headquarters on 15 February, Director-General Roberto Azevêdo urged members to be ready to explore fresh perspectives and new pathways which may help move negotiations forward at the WTO. Read more 

Commentary: Temper expectations about RCEP free trade agreement

Channel Newsasia: It looks like India may be dragging its feet on some key issues within the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership but there’s good reason for all parties to manage their expectations, says one observer from the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute. Read more 

After the WTO’s Ministerial Conference, Where Next for Africa?

ICTSD Bridges: In the aftermath of the December WTO Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires, pessimism about the future of the institution has been reaching record levels and no clear plan has emerged yet on where to take the WTO next. In this rather bleak environment, what are the possible options for African countries to advance their trade and development priorities? Read more 

Mnuchin says Washington studying possible return to TPP through renegotiation

The Japan Times: President Donald Trump’s administration is actively discussing the possibility of rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal on condition that the United States renegotiate it to secure better terms, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday. Read more 

(US) House passes GSP renewal legislation

American Shipper: The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 4979 Tuesday under an expedited floor procedure, which would renew the Generalized System of Preferences program through 2020. Read more 

‘Big boys’ causing delays in conclusion of RCEP

Business Mirror: The Philippines is demanding its fellow negotiating-countries in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) to seriously commit to a speedy conclusion of their trade deal, as the latest round of talks still failed to progress beyond trade in goods modalities. Read more 

Next Nafta Talks Scheduled to Start With Auto Content Rules

Bloomberg: Rules for automotive content, one of the most contentious issues in Nafta, will be among the first tackled at the upcoming seventh round of talks in Mexico City. Read more

Australia says yes to post-Brexit free trade agreement with the UK

BBC: Australia say they would like to be able to negotiate a free trade agreement with the UK after Brexit. Read more 

Trade growth to sustain momentum in first quarter of 2018, latest trade indicator suggests

WTO: The WTO’s latest World Trade Outlook Indicator (WTOI), released on 12 February, suggests that the trade recovery of 2017 should continue, with solid trade volume growth in the first quarter of 2018. Read more

BONUS

CTO State of the Industry Outlook

The Caribbean Tourism Organisation(CTO) held its State of the Industry 2017 and Outlook for 2018 last week. Please feel free to check out the report and other content here.

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