Trinidad & Tobago
TT – PANAMA
Brief Summary of TT-Panama Partial Scope Trade Agreement
Trinidad and Tobago and Panama signed a Partial Scope Trade Agreement on October 13th, 2013, in an attempt to strengthen its commercial and economic relations. The agreement’s goal is to promote mutually beneficial bilateral trade in goods and services. In terms of trade in goods, 230 products from T&T were granted preferential access into the Panamanian market, while T&T extended preferential treatment to 258 Panamanian goods. The agreement was certified by the CARICOM Secretariat on February 20th, 2013.
Components of the agreement consist of 30 articles under 6 major components, General Provisions, Trade in Goods, Trade Facilitation, Trade in Services, Investment and Institutional Arrangements/Joint Administration Commission.
The agreement was ratified / took force in 2016.
The first (1st) meeting of the Joint Administration Council took place on April 16th, 2021, where two (2) working groups were established. One group will undertake activities to update the Agreement (unifying the Rules of Origin, RoO) and the other group will undertake activities relating to market access (negotiating lists of products for preferential access, resolving market access challenges and transposing tariff lines in Annexes A and B of the Agreement).
Following the first meeting, the TTMA would have sent a list of additional goods to MTI for review, to be added to the list of preferential goods in the agreement. The representative body would have also mentioned a current issue affecting a local company attempting to export to Panama
MTI reported that they are currently working toward convening the first (1st) meeting of the working group on Market Access; however, a date has not yet been determined.
Brief Summary of TT-Chile Partial Scope Trade Agreement
Trade negotiations for a potential Trinidad and Tobago – Chile Trade Agreement is currently underway.
Dates of Negotiation rounds:
I. 1st Round - August 17th to August 21st, 2021
II. 2nd Round - January 5th to January 7th, 2022
III. 3rd Round - December 13th to December 15th, 2022
At all three (3) rounds of negotiations, eight (8) working groups were discussed. These are: Market Access, Legal and Institutional Issues, Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, Rules of Origin, Trade Facilitation, Technical Barriers to Trade, Trade Remedies and Competition Policy.
This partial scope agreement between Trinidad and Tobago and Chile will allow Trinidad and Tobago’s exports to enter the Chilean market of over nineteen (19) million persons at preferential rates of duties. Imports of selected inputs into manufacturing and consumer goods will have reduced duty.
This agreement will also seek to eliminate non-tariff barriers and foster cooperation between Trinidad and Tobago and Chile, in mutual areas of interest including Trade Facilitation and Electronic Trade.
The 4th round of negotiations are scheduled to occur within the first (1st) half of 2023.
TT – CURACAO (PROPOSED)
A General Framework Agreement (GFA) was signed on November 3rd , 2022, by Trinidad and Tobago’s Minister of Trade and Industry, Paula Gopee-Scoon and Curacao’s Minister of Economic Development, Ruisandro Cijntje, to commence negotiations of a Partial Scope Trade Agreement with Curacao. The signing of the GFA was as a result of the Working Group discussions between the two (2) countries, which took place virtually between February 1st, 2019 and September 22nd, 2019.
The GFA signified the commitment to deepen integration between the two countries, as the negotiations are expected to be completed within a three (3) year period and cover a range of components including market access, services, investments, non-tariff measures such as sanitary and phytosanitary measures and technical barriers to trade.
During the signing of the GFA (November 1st to 4th, 2022), Trade and Industry Minister, Paula Gopee-Scoon led a delegation of businessmen and key stakeholders on a Trade Mission to Curacao. Representatives from ExporTT, the National Export Facilitation Organization of Trinidad and Tobago, including members of the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers Association (TTMA), along with officials from eleven (11) companies across various sectors were afforded the opportunity to tap into this non-traditional market.
These negotiations are expected to begin in 2023.
CARICOM – DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
The Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between CARICOM and the Dominican Republic was signed on August 22nd, 1998 by both parties, to establish a Free Trade Area and strengthen the commercial and economic relations between the parties.
It is a reciprocal Trade Agreement between the five (5) CARICOM More Developed Countries (MDC’s – Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Suriname) and the Dominican Republic. The trade relation between the eight (8) CARICOM Less Developed Countries (LDC’s – Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines), is based on non-reciprocity with the understanding that the arrangement would have been reviewed in 2005.
Over the period March 30th to March 31st 2017 the fifth (5th) Joint Council Meeting between CARICOM and the Dominican Republic (DR) took place. At this meeting, both parties agreed to the Rules of Procedure for the Joint Council and the Rules of Origin for goods under Chapter 62 of the Harmonized System.
Further, both parties agreed to develop a framework that will allow for access to main focal or contact points aimed at addressing 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 was the list of goods to be offered for preferential access from both sides. CARICOM provided information on the sensitivity of several products from the DR’s list and was able to signal to the DR products that they can offer flexibility. It was agreed by both parties that more consultations are required for a definitive list from both sides.
Tentative dates for follow up meetings are to be announced.
The FTA was ratified and took effect in June 2006.
CARICOM – COLOMBIA
The agreement on Trade, Economic and Technical Cooperation between CARICOM and Colombia was signed in July 1994. The arrangement began as a non-reciprocal agreement providing one-way preferential access of certain products from CARICOM to Colombian markets. The parties, however, agreed for a level of reciprocity to ensue on a select list of goods four (4) years after entry into force of the non-reciprocal agreement in 1998.
The protocol of the agreement outlines a list of items subject to duty free access, in addition to a list of items eligible for phased reduction of duty between CARICOM MDC’s and Colombia. The LDC’s of CARICOM are not required to grant preferential access to Colombia.
At present (2023), negotiations are ongoing for the expansion of preferential market access under this agreement. Initial requests were exchanged on April 7th, 2022. The CARICOM request which consolidated the export interests of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Guyana, Grenada, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago, was presented to Colombia for non-reciprocal duty-free access. Dominica was the only CARICOM member state participating in the agreement that did not submit items of export interest for preferential access into Colombia. In turn, Colombia reiterated its expectation of duty-free access from all CARICOM member states, including the LDC’s for all products listed.
A Joint Council meeting took place in June 2022 where both parties addressed the principles, modalities and other technical aspects of the negotiations. It should also be noted that Suriname and Haiti signaled interest in participating in the Agreement. The parties also agreed on the importance of holding parallel discussions on Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) issues relating to the liberalization of agricultural goods.
Ratified and took effect on June 2006.
CARICOM - COSTA RICA
The Caribbean Community and the government of Costa Rica in 2004 signed an agreement to establish a free trade area between both parties to improve trade relations, create and expand markets for goods, promote regional integration in the Americas and enhance competitiveness in the world market. As part of this agreement CARICOM MDC’s and Costa Rica agreed to reciprocal preferential market access, however, LDC’s are not required to.
At present, approximately 95% of products are traded duty free between both parties. However, some items continue to attract duties. These sensitive products are: fish, chocolate, cigarettes and certain agricultural products. The phased reduction of duty list is no longer relevant in 2023, given the time period for the liberalization of those goods.
The first (1st) Joint Council Meeting between both parties took place during the period June 17th to June 18th, 2015. Major issues discussed were those pertaining to non-tariff barriers, treatment for selected agricultural products, contact points, services and transportation.
Entry into force November 15th, 2005.
CARICOM – CUBA
CARICOM and the Republic of Cuba signed a Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement on July 5th 2000 to strengthen economic and commercial relations between both parties. The agreement covers areas such as trade, tourism, transportation, trade promotion and financing, business facilitation, cooperation on meteorology and natural disaster preparedness, development of human resources and science and technology. As part of this agreement CARICOM MDC’s and Costa Rica agreed to reciprocal preferential market access, however, LDC’s are not required to.
It provides preferential market access for CARICOM, for meat and edible meat offal products, fish, dairy and birds’ eggs, vegetables, melons, spices, rice, wheat, crude and refined coconut oil, among other things. In expanding the agreement, a Second (2nd) Protocol was signed in Georgetown, Guyana on November 9th, 2017. This paved the way for Cuba to grant CARICOM access to 326 duty-free items, whereas, CARICOM granted Cuba access to seventy-four (74) items. Some of these products covered cigarettes, some cement, some medicaments, some electric machinery and equipment, vehicular accessories and optical apparatus and medical equipment.
Trinidad and Tobago is currently undertaking action to complete the national legislation process to give effect to the Second Protocol.
Took force in December 2002.
CARICOM – VENEZUELA
The CARICOM-Venezuela Trade and Investment is a one-wayagreement, which was signed in October 1992. It was established to strengthen the economic and trade relations between CARICOM member states and Venezuela.
The agreement noted that tariffs would be eliminated on 22% of products, including, confectionery, cosmetics, jams and jellies, medicines, wooden furniture, horticultural products, and spices among many others, while other products enjoy some measure of tariff reductions. Exceptions to these items include beef, milk products, coffee, rice, some oils and other selected goods. The agreement also seeks to foster investment in the region and to facilitate joint ventures between both parties.
However, by 2023, these tariff reductions would have already been phased out. However, it should be noted that a MFN rate will still apply to products listed in Annex 3 of the agreement.
Took force on January 1st, 1993.
WTO TRADE FACILITATION AGREEMENT (TFA)
The WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (FTA) came into force in 2017 after negotiations were concluded by WTO members at the 2013 Bali Ministerial Conference. This agreement examines procedures and measures governing the movement of goods across national borders, to reduce trade costs, while safeguarding legitimate regulatory goals. According to the WTO 2022, estimates showed that the full implementation of the TFA could reduce trade costs by an average of 14.3% and boost global trade by up to $1 trillion per year, with the biggest gains in the poorest countries. Developing countries' 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. In Trinidad and Tobago, the agreement was ratified and has established a National Committee on Trade Facilitation, comprising both public and private stakeholders, who are tasked at examining the agreement and fulfilling their commitments.
Took effect on February 22nd, 2017.
US - CARIBBEAN BASIN INITIATIVE
The Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) is a broad program aimed at promoting economic development through private sector initiative in Central American and Caribbean countries. A major goal of the CBI is to expand foreign and domestic investment in non-traditional sectors, thereby diversifying CBI country economies and expanding their exports. The Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act of 1983 (CBERA) (amended in 1990) and the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act of 2000 (CBTPA), collectively known as CBI, provides customs duty-free entry to the United States on a permanent basis for a broad range of products from CBI beneficiary countries. The noted piece of CBI legislation, the CBTPA, provides beneficiary countries certain trade benefits similar to Mexico's under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). This Act expanded access to additional goods not covered under CBERA, including apparel, petroleum products and some agricultural products. The agreement was waived and approved by the World Trade Organization (WTO) in October 2019 for six (6) years, ending September 30th, 2025. In 2020, an extension of the provisions of CBTPA and CBERA was approved and signed by former US President Donald Trump, until September 30th, 2030.
As of October, 2000, the following 24 countries have been designated CBI beneficiaries. To qualify for CBI benefits, countries must meet the designation criteria outlined in the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act. These are:
The Caribbean-Canada Trade Agreement (CARIBCAN) is a non-reciprocal agreement that was established in 1986 by the Parliament of Canada, to promote trade and investment between Canadian markets and the Commonwealth Caribbean. It gives preferential duty-free access to CARICOM member states and facilitates knowledge exchange and technological assistance. Although the agreement covers a wide range of products, it does not cover duty-free access for goods classified under the Harmonized System (HS) 50-65 range (silk, wood, cotton, garments/textiles, and footwear) and some agricultural products that carry high tariff duties.
As a non-reciprocal arrangement, the CARIBCAN is not consistent with the World Trade Organization’s principles and commitments. Therefore it requires a WTO waiver. Canada initially indicated that it will not seek to renew the CARIBCAN waiver after 2013, but to negotiate a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with CARICOM. It is against this that Canada and CARICOM explored the prospects of the FTA, however, after seven (7) rounds of negotiations since 2017, both parties failed to reach an agreement to replace the existing CARIBCAN. As a result, and on Canada’s request, the World Trade Organization extended the CARIBCAN waiver until 2023. At this stage it is unclear when or whether both parties will return to negotiations under the extended CARIBCAN waiver.
CARIFORUM – EU – EPA
The CARIFORUM – EU Economic Partnership Agreement is atrade agreement between the European Union (EU) and (CARIFORUM - CARICOM Member States, plus the Dominican Republic). It seeks to liberalize trade and investment between fifteen (15) CARIFORUM States and twenty-seven (27) European Union (EU) countries. The arrangement does not just include the trade in goods, but also commitments on trade in services, investment and trade-related issues. It should be noted that Haiti also signed the agreement in December 2009, but has not applied it yet, as it is pending ratification by its Parliament, according to the European Commission’s website.
The agreement also includes a separate protocol on Cultural Cooperation, which aims to improve the conditions governing the exchange of cultural activities, goods and services between both parties. The CARIFORUM – EU – EPA is the first trade agreement in which the EU specifically included comprehensive provisions on culture.
Under this arrangement, the EU grants 100% duty and quota-free access for all goods entering from CARIFORUM states. This access to the EU market is permanent, full and free. On the other hand, CARIFORUM states are expected to gradually phase out duties over a 15-20 year period. 17% of products and services are considered to be sensitive and entirely excluded from liberalization.
Took effect on December 29th, 2008.
CARIFORUM – UK – EPA
The CARIFORUM – UK Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) was born out of the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union. Similar to the CARIFORUM – EU EPA, the agreement is an agreementbetween CARIFORUM states and the UK. Commitments on tariffs for both parties will remain the same as those applied by the EU under the existing EPA with CARIFORUM states.
There had not been any Joint Council meetings under this agreement to day, however, the first (1st) meeting of the Trade and Development Committee took place virtually on October 7th, 2021. Representatives from all CARIFORUM states, the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, were in attendance. The parties noted with satisfaction that the EPA secured continuity of a trading relationship worth £2.9 billion in 2020. The parties also expressed their desire to further develop sustainable and inclusive trade underpinned by the EPA, according to the UK’s Department for International Trade website.
The United Kingdom and CARIFORUM States discussed matters of joint interest under the Agreement including tariff liberalization, trade in goods and services, and Geographical Indications. Views were exchanged on the United Kingdom’s provision of development assistance under the EPA. The meeting was also an opportunity for both parties to provide updates on relevant trade policy developments in the United Kingdom and in the Caribbean region, and to reaffirm their desire for a prompt ratification of the EPA by all parties.
In preparation for the Joint Council, the Trade and Development Committee reviewed Rules of Procedure for the Trade and Development Committee, the Joint Council, and the Special Committees under the EPA.
The parties agreed to continue to work towards the effective implementation and operation of the Agreement and agreed to hold further meetings of the Joint Institutions on mutually agreed dates.
Took effect January 1st, 2021.