Who does Trinidad & Tobago have trade deals with? | Looking outwards


Trinidad and Tobago already has trade agreements in place with many of its regional and international partners, all designed to boost exports and make them easier and less costly

WORDS BY: The Ministry of Trade and Industry, Trinidad and Tobago

Published in CONTACT Magazine


Trinidad and Tobago has trade agreements with trading partners both as part of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) and on its own (bilaterally). These agreements facilitate market access for local exporters to third countries, and also provide for the opening up of the Trinidad and Tobago market, except in the case of the USA, Canada and Venezuela, which are one-way agreements in favour of Caricom.

These arrangements provide dual benefits to local companies, by facilitating the importation of cost-effective inputs and assisting with price-competitiveness in foreign markets, while providing opportunities for growth through exports. The table outlines the ten preferential trading arrangements to which Trinidad and Tobago is a party.

These agreements recognise the importance of trade in services as well as goods, and thus in some cases include provisions for future negotiations in this area. Economic and technical cooperation is a key feature of the trade agreement with Colombia, as it promotes cooperation in a number of areas such as human resource development, science and technology, and tourism, through exchanges among local universities.

In addition, Trinidad and Tobago, as part of Cariforum, receives development cooperation assistance under the European Development Fund for projects related to economic development, social and human development, regional cooperation and integration.

Challenges

The main issues encountered by exporters when trading include access to market information, difficulties in meeting standards for products, access to foreign exchange, and in some instances distributor laws which act as a deterrent.

Among other things, the Ministry of Trade and Industry is actively seeking to assist exporters with addressing these issues through:

  • trade missions, which provide opportunities to gather first-hand information
  • exporter training and workshops, to build capacity and share information
  • the implementation of lines of credit for specific markets
  • the strengthening of its Single Electronic Window, TTBizLink, to facilitate and simplify trade
  • and the development and implementation of policies.

Additionally, the agreements provide a structure for the establishment of a joint institution to address any challenges which may arise between the parties during implementation of the respective agreements.

Many companies in Trinidad and Tobago have been able to benefit from the opportunities presented under the negotiated trade agreements, especially those operating in the food and beverage sector.

 

Trade agreements benefiting Trinidad and Tobago

 

Country/ country grouping Market size (2017, millions) Name of trade agreement/date of signature Type of agreement Main provisions Opportunities available
United States of America 325.7 Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act

Signed: January 1984

 

United States-Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act

Signed: October 1, 2000

Date of expiry: September 30, 2020

Unilateral

 

One-way arrangement in favour of Caricom

·       Duty-free access for goods into the United States
Canada 36.7 Caribcan

Signed: November 28, 1986

Date of expiry: December 31, 2023

Unilateral

 

One-way arrangement in favour of Caricom

·       Duty-free access for most goods into Canada (does not cover textiles, footwear, luggage, leather garments, lubricating oils or methanol)

 

Caricom

 

18.2 Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas establishing the Caribbean Community (Caricom), including the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME)

Signed: July 5, 2001

The agreement contains chapters related to: establishment of common external tariff, rules of origin, product specific rules of origin, freedom of transit, internal taxes and other fiscal charges, quantitative restrictions, subsidies and dumping safeguards. ·       Free movement of skills/labour, goods, services, capital, and the right of establishment among all Caricom member states (except The Bahamas and Montserrat)

·       Free trade in all products among Caricom member states

·       Framework for the regional harmonisation of issues such as government procurement and e-commerce

 

 

Costa Rica 4.9 Caricom-Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement

Signed: March 9, 2004

Free trade agreement

 

Two-way arrangement

The agreement and its protocols contain articles related to: market access, temporary admission of goods, rules of origin, product specific rules of origin, customs procedures, sanitary and phytosanitary standards, and technical barriers to trade

 

·       Free trade in a wide range of goods and elimination of non-tariff barriers

·       Duty-free access for a selected list of agricultural products on a seasonal basis

·       Duty-free access for electrical products produced in free trade zones

·       Mechanism for settlement of disputes

·       Joint Council framework to facilitate expansion of the agreement and address trade issues

Dominican Republic 10.8 Caricom-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement

Signed: August 22, 1998

Free trade agreement

 

Two-way arrangement

The agreement contains articles related to: market access, rules of origin, product specific rules of origin, technical barriers to trade, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, safeguards, unfair trade practices, anti-competitive business practices, and customs cooperation ·       Free trade in a wide range of goods

·       Future negotiation of access for service providers in various sectors such as tourism, financial and professional services

·       Joint Council framework to facilitate expansion of the agreement and address trade issues

·       Duty-free access for a selected list of agricultural products on a seasonal basis

Cuba 11.5 Caricom-Cuba Agreement on Trade and Economic Cooperation

Signed: July 5, 2000

Partial scope agreement

 

Two-way arrangement

The agreement contains articles related to: market access, rules of origin, technical standards, safeguards, unfair trade practices, and anti-competitive business practices

 

·       Duty-free access on a selected list of products

·       Access to market support through the Trade Facilitation Office in Cuba

European Union 508 Cariforum-European Union Economic Partnership Agreement

Signed: October 15, 2008

Free trade agreement

 

Two-way arrangement

The agreement contains articles related to: trade in goods – market access, rules of origin, product specific rules of origin, customs duties, anti-dumping and countervailing measures, safeguards, and technical barriers to trade ·       The most comprehensive trade agreement signed by T&T; offers preferential access to a list of products

·       Affords development assistance to fund key projects within the region under the European Development Fund

 

Venezuela 31.9 Caricom-Venezuela Agreement on Trade, Economic and Technical Cooperation

Signed: October 13, 1992

Partial scope agreement

 

One-way arrangement in favour of Caricom

The agreement contains articles related to: market access, rules of origin, safeguards, and unfair trade practices ·       Elimination of tariffs on a selected list of Caricom products

·       Provides mechanism for settlement of disputes

·       Joint Council framework to facilitate expansion of the agreement and address trade issues

Colombia 49.1 Agreement on Trade, Economic and Technical Cooperation between Caricom and the Government of the Republic of Colombia

Signed: July 24, 1994

Partial scope agreement

 

Two-way arrangement

The agreement and its protocols contain articles related to: market access, treatment of used goods, rules of origin, technical standards, safeguards, and unfair trade practices ·       Duty-free access for a selected list of products;

opportunity for future liberalisation of trade in services

·       Future negotiation of a bilateral investment treaty

·       Promotes technical cooperation in a number of areas such as human resource development, science and technology, and tourism, through exchanges among universities

·       Joint Council framework to facilitate expansion of the agreement and address trade issues

Panama 4.1 Trinidad and Tobago-Panama Partial Scope Trade Agreement

Signed: October 3, 2013

Partial scope agreement

 

Two-way arrangement

The agreement contains articles related to: market access, rules of origin, safeguards, anti-dumping and countervailing measures, sanitary and phytosanitary standards, technical barriers to trade, and trade facilitation ·       Duty-free access for a selected list of products

·       Development of a technical cooperation work programme to improve trade facilitation between the two countries

·       Future negotiation of a bilateral investment treaty within one year

·       Future liberalisation of trade in services in sectors such as ICT, financial services, education and transport services, within two years


 

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