Newsday | 31 March 2019
TT signs UK trade agreement
by Carla Bridglal
One week after nine Cariforum countries signed an agreement with the United Kingdom (UK) to maintain preferential trade agreements if and when the UK leaves the European Union, TT’s Cabinet has authorised this country’s High Commissioner in London, Orville London, to also sign on to the agreement on Monday.
Trade Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon told Sunday Newsday in a phone call yesterday that the country is well before the April 12 deadline and there will be no disadvantage or negative repercussions for signing on later than the others.
“We haven’t lost out on anything. We took our time to make sure it was on our best interest, reviewing all the date and analysis to ensure we do the right thing,” she said.
Each country would have deliberated over what was best for them, she said, and TT just took a bit longer. The next step is to create separate legislation in accordance with the agreement. As it is, legislation already exists for the Cariforum-EU agreement, but a new and separate one needs to be in place for the Cariforum-UK. She said this will be drafted in the next three months before it goes to Parliament.
On March 22 in Barbados, UK trade policy minister George Hollingbery signed the Cariforum-UK Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with representatives from Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines.
In a release yesterday, the Trade Ministry said As it relates to imports, the EPA maintains the existing protection applied to sensitive sectors in TT and the Cariforum region. In this regard, customs duties in sectors such as agriculture and agri-processed goods, indigenous light manufacturing and services sectors for a number of Cariforum imports will be maintained. Duty free access to exports from Cariforum entering the UK will also be upheld.
From January to October 2018, TT exported $560 million worth of goods to the UK, including methanol, liquefied natural gas, aromatic bitters, iron and steel, rum, beer, cereals, curry and shandy.