Belmopan. March 28, 2019. Last week, CEO of the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Commerce, Mr. Duane Belisle, along with the Directorate General for Foreign Trade (DGFT), joined eight other CARIFORUM Countries along with the UK’s Minister for Trade Policy, Mr. George Hollingbery, in signing the CARIFORUM-UK Economic Partnership Agreement.
The Economic Partnership Agreement with the United Kingdom preserves existing preferential trade terms and safeguards current and future trade flow between the countries of the region and the UK. The Agreement lays out a framework that eliminates barriers and tariffs on goods exported to the UK. Subsequently, the Caribbean states will continue to gradually cut import tariffs on most of the region’s imports from the UK.
The Agreement is a tremendous opportunity for Belize and the Caribbean that benefitted from over US$3.3 billion in goods trade with the UK in 2017 alone. Based on current trade flows, exporters of cane sugar and other sugar products could save more than US$26.6 million a year in tariff charges. The deal also covers the services sector, including Caribbean tourism, which generates over US$1.1 million a year from UK travelers.
The deal comes into effect at the end of January 2021, or as soon as possible after the UK leaves the EU in a no-deal scenario. The CARIFORUM countries which signed were: Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts-Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Other CARIFORUM Countries have also accepted the Agreement and plan to sign by the of March 2019.
The Ministry of Investment, Trade and Commerce, through the Directorate General for Foreign Trade, continues to foster sustainable and inclusive economic development through a responsive trade policy that stimulates trade, enables investment, and facilitates Belize’s integration into the multilateral trading system.