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Caribbean

The CARICOM Secretariat will this week begin consultation with regional stakeholders in preparation for a comprehensive review of the regional body’s main trade instruments, the Common External Tariff (CET) and the Rules of Origin.

A release from the CARICOM Secretariat said the consultation will be held at its headquarters in Guyana.

It targets regional organizations that are interested in or likely to be affected by changes to the CET and the Rules of Origin.

Participants of the consultation will include academia, private sector organizations, industry associations, regional policy advocacy organizations, and institutions of CARICOM.

The CET and Rules of Origin were approved by CARICOM’s Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) and the Conference of Heads of Government in 1990.

According to the release, the global and regional trading environments have changed significantly. Among those changes were the establishment of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the revision of the Treaty of Chaguaramas, the establishment of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy and the negotiation of several free trade agreements including the Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union.

Antigua

Antigua & Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne said the five-month closure of the Sandals Grande Antigua Resort and Spa is a bid for concession.

Browne told the state media he believes it is an act of sabotage, saying that no investor should be able to treat Antiguans in that way.

More than 200 employees of the Dickson Bay resort will be affected when it closes for the first time in 25 years.

“It is a blow, we did not expect anything like this to happen, it will have a chain reaction on every household”, he said.

The Antigua & Barbuda Workers Union announced at a press conference that the five-star resort will close for up to five months from September 20, 2017 for “essential maintenance works.”

Browne said the hotel group recently requested a waiver in duties and taxes on food and beverages, but it was deferred “considering that the other hotels would have made similar demands resulting in the reduction of tax revenues.”

The prime minister said he explained to the Sandals officials that the government’s finances were in a very “precarious position” and it would plunge the government’s finances into a crisis if duties were waived on food and beverages.

Barbados

Barbados has reported a 17 percent increase in visitor arrivals from the United States market for this year as compared to the same period last year.

Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy said the industry remains buoyant, even in the face of global uncertainty.

He attributed the increase in visitor arrivals to the partnership he island has with low-cost US-based carrier airline.

Sealy made the comments during a media conference at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Center following a courtesy call on his office by officials of the airline.

The minister said that carrier contributed significantly to the island’s tourism product and the partnership between Barbados and the airline was a very important one.

He said Barbados is set to get a total of about 19,000 JetBlue seats this year.

Sealy noted that the relationship began about eight years ago, with just one flight a day out of New York. Today, he said there are many as three flights a day. The tourism minister also reported that the Canadian and Caribbean markets remained strong.

The United Kingdom market registered a moderate increase which Sealy said was “particularly encouraging” given “all the problems, politically and economically” in in the UK.

Guyana

The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has approved a grant of US$295,000 to support the Guyana government in developing a framework, which will help the development and implementation of measures to adapt to the impact climate change in the agricultural sector in the South American country.

The agriculture sector in Guyana is a significant contributor to the gross domestic product and also employs a large portion of the population.

Climate change can have a signification effect on the sector, as most agricultural production is concentrated along the coastal plains which are below sea level at high tide. Rising sea levels, increased in the intensity and frequency of rainfall and higher temperature associated with the climate change are already negatively impacting agricultural production.

The technical assistance project will allow the government to identify areas that are most vulnerable to climate change and to adopt new climate agricultural practices.

The project is schedule to be implemented over a period of 16 months.

Jamaica

Jamaica’s first female Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller, 72, has retired from politics.

She recently made her farewell speech in Parliament after four decades in representational politics in the gritty “garrison” constituency of South West St. Andrew for more than 40 years.

Simpson-Miller, who has been under pressure to step down as opposition leader ever since the People’s National party (PNP) under her leadership, lost the February 2016 general elections.

Former Finance Minister Peter Phillips was returned unopposed as party leader and was sworn in as opposition leader on April 3, 2017.

The former prime minister was showered with tributes by her colleagues on both sides of the House of Representatives in a joint sitting on June 27, where she was described as a champion of the poor.

Jamaica

Members of the Jamaica Diaspora Immigration and Deportation Prevention Task Force (JJDIDTF) will take part in a consultative workshop during the upcoming Jamaica 55 Diaspora conference.

The workshop will determine the eligibility of the deportees to return to the United States.

President of the Jamaican American Bar Association attorney Joan Pinnock said the JDIDPTF was established to educate Jamaicans in the Diaspora about their immigration rights and the benefits of becoming citizens of their host countries.

She said the task force also assists with reducing the large numbers of persons deported to Jamaica from the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom and help in returning those who are wrongfully deported to their host country.

Pinnock noted that the executive order signed by US President Donald Trump to protect that country’s borders, promised to detain and remove individuals who may have broken laws and who have convictions, adding that several Jamaicans in the United States who fall into this category need help.

The task force benefits from expertise in different areas of immigration and criminal law, as well as administration outreach, communication and social media skills.

St. Kitts and Nevis

Minister of International Trade and Commerce Lindsay Grant has said that the government has met its goal to achieve a complete turnaround of the economy.

He told members of the private sector recently that the economic prosperity of the federation is reflected in the job gains, rising incomes and the solid rebound in consumer spending.

Grant said sales in the wholesale and retail sector grew by 9.13 percent in 2015, compared to 0.35 percent in 2014.

He said evidence of the turnaround can be seen in the reports of record-breaking sales of vehicles noting that the banking sector is also doing well.

The minister also reported the Guyana-Brazil, St. Kitts and Nevis Partial Scope Agreement (PSA) in its final stage and this will mark another way to boost the economy.

The agreement gives manufacturing companies in St. Kitts and Nevis a near zero-percent tariff entry into the South American country’s market.

Trinidad

A selected number of police officers in Trinidad and Tobago from Aug. 1, 2017 will wear body cameras, Acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams said at the launch of the project recently.

Williams, who lauded the project, said officers are disadvantaged when people using cellphone cameras capture part of an incident and not the entire incident.

He said questions on the use of force by police as well as complaints against police can now be handled in a timely manner.

The acting top cop said there have been many studies done in the United States before which concluded that the body-worn cameras had a positive effect on both the behavior of the police and civilians.

A total of 60 body cameras have been distributed throughout the nine police divisions in T&T and will be worn by selected officers.

— compiled by Azad Ali

Updated 3:05 am, July 10, 2018
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