Fri | Nov 16, 2018

Post-Brexit trade deal between CARIFORUM, UK close to being finalised

Published:Friday | November 9, 2018 | 10:45 AM
Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister Kamina Johnson Smith

KINGSTON, Jamaica, CMC – The technical work for the rollover of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM) and the United Kingdom post-Brexit is close to being finalised.

“The European Union (EU), I assure you, remains an important trade partner for Jamaica and our CARIFORUM colleagues, and the EPA will remain in place,” said Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister, Kamina Johnson Smith.

“It will continue to be the framework under which we trade with the EU, so we continue to work towards its ratification and to call on entrepreneurs and other players in the private sector to explore opportunities within this framework, even as we seek to improve implementation,” she added.

The United Kingdom is due to leave the EU on March 29, next year.

The EPA is the trade and development partnership signed in 2008 by the 15 states of CARIFORUM and the EU’s 28 countries. The goals are to make it easier for people and businesses from the two regions to invest in and trade with each other, and to spur development across the Caribbean.

Meanwhile, Johnson Smith said tariffs imposed by the United States on aluminium and steel continue to have little or no effect on Jamaican businesses and said this was due to the “alternatives and flexibility” that exist in the trading arrangements with countries that Jamaica exports to “such that we have not been impacted".

“In fact, we have been advised by the relevant line ministry that Jamaica’s earnings from bauxite and alumina for the first half of 2018 were 60 per cent and 95 per cent, respectively, of the entire export values in 2017. If that (trend) continues, we will, in fact, have grown in the sector,” she said.

Johnson Smith said the improvements that have been achieved in the sector underscore “the importance of monitoring, maintaining a cool head [and] ensuring that you have data and analysis, so that you do not risk causing unnecessary panic within the sector and among the players”.

Washington imposed tariffs of 10 and 25 per cent on aluminium and steel, respectively, citing national security grounds. The tariffs took effect on March 23.

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