After expiring in 2013, Canada has requested a waiver of the CARIBCAN arrangement. The arrangement, which allows several of Trinidad and Tobago’s goods to enter the Canadian market duty-free, requires the approval of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). At the March meeting of the WTO’s Council on Trade in Goods, the EU indicated that it required time to consider Canada’s request. The Council meet in July 2015, at which point the waiver was extended until 2023.
Partial Scope Agreement between El Salvador and Trinidad & Tobago
The fourth round of negotiations was held in 2014. Currently, Trinidad & Tobago and El Salvador are conducting the legal scrub of the agreement. Furthermore, CARICOM is yet to approve this agreement, which requires the consent of all CARICOM member states. However, it is anticipated that the list of objections (if any) from other CARICOM countries should be small, since Trinidad and Tobago was made aware of the various sensitivities after negotiating the partial scope agreements between Guatemala and Panama.
Partial Scope Agreement between Guatemala and Trinidad & Tobago
Based on Trinidad and Tobago’s withdrawal of two tariff lines (which was based on CARICOM’s objection to those tariff lines), Guatemala also withdrew preferences on two tariff lines. On 16 January 2015, the CARICOM Secretariat informed Trinidad and Tobago (via letter) that CARICOM had certified the Trinidad and Tobago/Guatemala Partial Scope Agreement. To complete ratification of the agreement, the following steps must be taken:
• The Ministry of Trade, Industry, Investment and Communications is required to send a Cabinet note
• The Bill for the agreement would be drafted
• Debate of the Bill
• Passing of Bill
• Proclamation by President
Entry into force (on the thirtieth (30th) day after the day on which the Parties have exchanged their ratification instruments certifying that the procedures and legal formalities have been concluded)
Partial Scope Agreement between Panama and Trinidad & Tobago
Debate on the “The Trinidad and Tobago Panama Partial Scope Trade Agreement Bill” has already begun. The Bill as introduced requires a simple majority in order to be passed. Once passed, the resulting Act will come into effect upon Proclamation by the President. The Agreement shall enter into force on the thirtieth day after the day on which the countries have exchanged their ratification instruments certifying that the procedures and legal formalities have been concluded. Once entered into force, duties would be reduced, based on the Annexes to the Agreement.
Free Trade Agreement between CARICOM and Costa Rica
The inaugural meeting of the Joint Council established in the Free Trade Agreement between the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Government of the Republic of Costa Rica was held in Trinidad and Tobago from Wednesday, 17 June 2015 to Thursday, 18 June 2015. This meeting was held to address trade-related issues, including:
- Non-Tariff Measures – Both CARICOM and Costa Rica, in order to avoid misinformation, agreed to exchange information on the current registration requirements for the entry of products.
- Discriminatory Nature of Costa Rica Law 6209 of 1978 – Costa Rica indicated that it would provide a clearer understanding of the law and its coverage.
- Transportation Links – Both sides agreed to appeal to shipping lines to sail more regularly to Caribbean ports, using the Joint Council as the platform. A business model is to be developed in this regard.
- Tariff liberalisation and the treatment of goods – CARICOM and the Government of Costa Rica agreed to address these issues on the appointed Committee on Market Access. They further agreed that these discussions will take place within three to four months.
- Temporary Entry of Business Persons – Both Costa Rica and CARICOM are to exchange relevant information. Further discussions are to take place with the appointed Committee on Trade in Services and Investment.
Free Trade Agreement between CARICOM and Cuba
Cuba indicated to CARICOM that it wishes to further develop the existing trade agreement between the two parties. As a result, the Cuban government sent a list of products for which it seeks preferential access into CARICOM. With regards to the countries that signed the agreement, it was agreed that only the less developed countries (LDCs) of CARICOM were not required to liberalise their respective markets, while the more developed countries (MDCs) were required to do so. Thus, Trinidad and Tobago, as one of the MDCs, had to undertake consultations. The list of products was sent out to TTMA members, as preferential access would have implications for local manufacturers. The products include juices, cigarettes, cement, medicaments, deodorants, plastic articles, cardboard boxes, notebooks, jewellery, steel, furniture and mattresses. CARICOM compiled the positions of the MDCs and submitted this compilation to its Cuban counterparts. Currently, CARICOM is awaiting a response from Cuba.