CARICOM- Dominican Republic Trade Negotiations
Over the period March 30th to March 31st, the Fifth Joint Council Meeting between CARICOM and the Dominican Republic (DR) took place. At this meeting, both sides agreed to the Rules of Procedure for Joint Council and the Rules of Origin for Goods under Chapter 62 of the Harmonised System (HS). Further, both parties agreed to develop a framework that will allow for access to main focal or contact points that will address key areas such as Rules of Origin, Conflict Resolution, Sanitary and Phytosanitary measures, Technical Barriers to Trade and other key issues.A key area of discussion at the meeting is the list of goods to be offered for additional preferential access from both parties. CARICOM provided information on the sensitivity of several products from the DR’s list and was able to signal to the DR of products that they can offer flexibility. It was agreed by both parties that more consultation is required for a definitive list from both sides. An extraordinary meeting with the DR will take place at the end of May to provide the definitive lists.
Trade Facilitation Agreement
The WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) came into force in 2017. This agreement examines procedures and measures governing the movement of goods across national borders to reduce trade costs while safeguarding legitimate regulatory goals. As indicated the TFA is expected to reduce trade costs thereby boosting trade between countries and increasing world income. OECD studies find that the implementation of the TFA could reduce worldwide trade costs between 12.5% and 17.5%. Developing country exports are expected to increase. Companies are more likely to increase profits which should boost domestic investment. In addition, foreign direct investment (FDI) is expected to be more attracted to countries that fully implement the TFA. Therefore, there are benefits to implementing this agreement. In Trinidad and Tobago, the agreement was ratified and has established a National Committee on Trade Facilitation comprising both public and private stakeholders to examine the agreement.
CARICOM-Cuba Trade Negotiations
The Tenth Meeting of the Joint Commission established between CARICOM and Cuba was held from 30 January 2017 to 31 January 2017. During the Ninth Meeting of the Commission, it was agreed that Cuba would grant immediate duty-free access on 295 tariff lines to CARICOM. During the Tenth Meeting, CARICOM MDCs agreed to grant immediate duty-free access to Cuba on 52 tariff lines, and differentiated access (including phased reduction and immediate duty-free access) on 28 tariff lines. Additionally, Cuba had agreed to CARICOM removing the preferential access that was previously granted to 9403.60.00 (Other Wooden Furniture).During the Ninth meeting of the Commission, both CARICOM and Cuba had commenced negotiations on product-specific rules of origin (PSROs), based on a proposal from CARICOM. Cuba was to review the proposal, and to submit counterproposals on the areas for which there are concerns. However, since there were no experts on PSROs as part of the Cuban delegation, it was agreed that further talks on the topic be held in February 2017.It was agreed that contact points would be established within CARICOM and Cuba. These contact points would, inter alia, receive the concerns of a Party about obstacles being experienced when companies attempt to conduct trade, as well as to facilitate dialogue between the Parties regarding new trade and investment opportunities.CARICOM indicated that companies experienced difficulties when exporting to Cuba. Both CARICOM and Cuba agreed that there was a need to address these market access issues and challenges. It was agreed that these challenges would be communicated to the contact points for resolution.
In November 2016, there was a preliminary meeting between Trinidad and Tobago and Chile for a potential partial scope trade agreement between the two countries. At this meeting, both parties agreed for the formation of a Technical Working Group. The group will initially provide preliminary trade and economic data and will soon develop a schedule of meetings for the commencement of negotiations. At this meeting, some of the proposed areas to be addressed in the trade agreement include trade in goods and a built in agenda for Investment.
 The Rules of Procedure outlines the operations of the Joint Council.