Antigua and Barbuda has today signed the CARIFORUM-UK Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), the trade continuity agreement signed between the UK and a series of countries in the Caribbean on 22 March, and in the UK in April.
UK businesses and consumers will benefit from the CARIFORUM-UK EPA which will maintain current arrangements with countries in the Caribbean soon after Britain leaves the EU.
Trade Policy Minister George Hollingbery signed the CARIFORUM-UK EPA on 22 March with Ministers and representatives from Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Trinidad & Tobago signed the CARIFORUM-UK EPA in London on April 1 and The Dominican Republic signed on April 4.
Antigua & Barbuda’s High Commissioner to the UK, Her Excellency Karen-Mae Hill, joined Minister Hollingbery in London to sign the agreement today.
News of the agreement was welcomed by businesses and business groups including the West Indies Rum & Spirits Producers Association (WIRSPA), one of the oldest private sector trade associations in the Caribbean. WIRSPA represent some brands well known to UK consumers including Appleton, Angostura and Mount Gay Rum.
The agreement will allow these businesses and many others across the Caribbean to trade with the UK like they do now, without any additional barriers or tariffs.
It eliminates all tariffs on all goods imported from the signing CARIFORUM States into the UK, while those Caribbean states will continue gradually to cut import tariffs on most of the region’s imports from the UK.
The UK is an important export market for the Caribbean, including for exports of bananas from Saint Lucia, Belize and the Dominican Republic, sugar cane from Guyana, as well as rum from Jamaica.
These preferential terms are part of the UK government’s commitment to supporting developing countries to reduce poverty through trade. It will help them to grow their economies, create jobs, increase incomes and reduce reliance on overseas aid in the long-term.
Minister for Trade Policy, George Hollingbery said:
“I am delighted that Antigua & Barbuda has signed this agreement today as it will allow their businesses to continue trading like they do today after the UK leaves the European Union.
It will help to support jobs in the UK and throughout the Caribbean, as well as ensuring that the British supermarkets shelves continue to be stocked with the best Caribbean produce such as bananas, sugar and rum.”
We have a long-standing commitment to reduce poverty through trade and this agreement will support jobs in key Commonwealth countries, including Antigua and Barbuda”
British High Commissioner to Antigua and Barbuda, Janet Douglas CMG said:
“This is a significant step for Antigua & Barbuda and the UK. It will help provide stability for UK and Antiguan businesses and strengthen our relationship with the Eastern Caribbean region.”
In 2017 total trade between the UK and the region was worth around £2.5 billion. Replicating this deal will allow the UK to continue building the trading relationship with our Commonwealth partners.
Based on current trade flows, exporters of bananas and other fruits and nuts could save over £14 million a year in tariff charges that could apply if the agreement wasn’t in place, while exporters of sugarcane and other sugar products could save more than £20 million. Consumers in the UK will continue to benefit from more choice and lower prices for products from these countries.
The agreement also covers the services sector, including tourism, which will benefit Brits who spend £900 million a year during some 900,000 visits to the Caribbean.
It will help small and medium businesses in the Caribbean to promote sustainable tourism and follow international environmental and quality standards.
The UK is seeking to provide continuity for existing EU trade agreements covering more than 70 countries that account for 11% of total UK trade and we are making good progress having recently signed agreements with Switzerland and Israel.
Like all these agreements, the new CARIFORUM-UK EPA replicates the existing trading arrangements as far as possible. It is expected to come into effect as soon as the implementation period ends, or from as soon as possible after the UK leaves the EU if we leave without a deal.