The UK’s Department for International Trade (DIT) in Bridgetown Barbados, hosted a Trade and Investment reception to stimulate increased business opportunities between the UK and Caribbean markets.
The high-level networking event was held at the official residence of the British High Commissioner, Her Excellency Janet Douglas – in the company of Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, the Hon Sandra Husbands; key stakeholders from the local and regional business sector, trade officials from the Caribbean region and Latin America; and other distinguished guests.
During her opening remarks, High Commissioner Douglas affirmed that the UK is committed to increasing its engagement across the world and in the Caribbean region, after it leaves the European Union.
British High Commissioner to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Her Excellency Janet Douglas said:
“In the Eastern Caribbean, we are opening new small posts in Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda, and St Vincent and the Grenadines – which along with our existing post in St Lucia, will mean that the UK has the widest diplomatic presence in the Eastern Caribbean.”
In addition, Mrs Douglas noted that the UK has a new cross-government Caribbean strategy, with a key pillar devoted to activities which promote trade and prosperity between Britain and the region.
The High Commissioner stated: “We’ve been working hard to ensure that whatever the terms of the UK’s exit [from the EU], there will be as little an impact as possible on UK-Caribbean trade relations. Key to this has been the negotiation of the CARIFORUM-UK Economic Partnership Agreement, which will be the basis of economic and trade relations once the EPA enters into effect.”
She further explained that this agreement will take effect after Brexit, when the CARIFORUM-EU EPA no longer applies to the UK – allowing trade to continue with the region as it is now.
The 12 CARIFORUM countries that will be covered by the CARIFORUM-UK EPA are:
• Antigua and Barbuda
• The Commonwealth of Dominica
• The Dominican Republic
• The Republic of Guyana
• Saint Christopher and Nevis
• Saint Lucia
• Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
• The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
Countries that have approved in principle and expected to sign shortly are:
• The Commonwealth of the Bahamas
• The Republic of Suriname
Other points of note:
• In the CARIFORUM-UK EPA, the UK commits to providing immediate duty-free, quota-free access to goods exported from these 12 CARIFORUM states.
• In exchange, these 12 CARIFORUM states commit to gradual tariff liberalisation of goods. Some domestically sensitive products in these CARIFORUM states are excluded from tariff liberalisation.
• In 2017 total trade between the UK and the region was worth around £2.5 billion. The agreement will support development and economic growth in the CARIFORUM signatory states, building the trading relationship with our Commonwealth partners.