Speech

World Trade Organization: Jamaica’s Trade Policy Review, July 2024: UK Statement

Jamaica's WTO Trade Policy Review: UK Statement. Delivered by the UK's Permanent Representative to the WTO and UN, Simon Manley.

Simon Manley CMG
  1. Chair, let me offer a warm welcome to the delegation from Jamaica led by Her Excellency, Senator Kamina Johnson Smith, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade. Let me also express my gratitude to colleagues from the WTO Secretariat for their respective reports, to the Chair, as ever, and to our Discussant, Dr José Roberto Sánchez Fung for his/her insightful comments.

  2. First, I would like to first express my support for and solidarity with those who have been impacted by Hurricane Beryl across the Caribbean. In particular, my thoughts are with those who have lost loved ones, their homes, and remain without electricity. I am pleased to say that, in the last week, the UK has increased support up to £500,000 for Caribbean countries most affected by the hurricane’s destruction.

  3. Not only devastating in itself, Hurricane Beryl – as the earliest Category 5 hurricane on record to form – is a stark reminder of the climate emergency. The new UK Government has made it clear that climate action is at the heart of their work.

  4. Chair, before discussing the important topic of trade, I’d like to mention another multilateral event which is occurring during this Trade Policy Review, which is the England – West Indies Cricket Test Match. Whilst I’d like to wish Jamaica the best of luck with the successful conclusion of Days 1 and 2 of this Trade Policy Review, I’ll be rooting for England in the cricket.

Bilateral Trade and EPA

  1. Now turning to trade. Since Jamaica’s last Trade Policy Review the UK and Jamaica have had cause to celebrate some important milestones. In 2022, we celebrated 60 years of diplomatic relations, giving us cause to reflect upon our close, productive relationship, and an opportunity to ask ourselves how we can deepen our relationship further.

  2. And answering that question did not take us long. In December 2023, the Inaugural Ministerial Joint Council of the UK-CARIFORUM Economic Partnership Agreement took place, establishing how we will continue to deliver on the Agreement, and providing an opportunity to discuss key market access barriers.

  3. The Agreement has helped secure the UK and Jamaica’s bilateral trade. Jamaica’s successful implementation of the Agreement’s tariff liberalisation schedule creates opportunities for UK exporters, and Jamaican businesses and consumers alike. The administration of customs procedures in line with our Agreement is essential to ensure these benefits are realised.

  4. The UK and Jamaica’s bilateral trade stood at 745 million US Dollars in total trade in goods and services in 2023 - an impressive increase of 20%, or 125 million US Dollars, from 2022. And we hope that these figures will continue to grow.

Reports Analysis

  1. We deeply appreciate Jamaica’s engagement with the Advanced Written Questions which the UK submitted. They allow us to better understand Jamaica’s trade policies, in turn enabling us to improve our trading relationship further. The same is true of the Reports.

  2. The Reports detail the significant impact of the COVID pandemic on Jamaica’s economy. However, they also demonstrate many of Jamaica’s growing strengths – modernising critical institutions, increasingly diverse exports, and continuing to develop in line with the Vision 2030 Jamaica blueprint. As the International Monetary Fund noted in its recent 2024 Article 4 Consultation, Jamaica has successfully reduced public debt, anchored inflation, and strengthened its external position – all achievements to be celebrated.

UK Support Programmes

  1. The UK is proud to support much of this admirable economic progress through trade related programmes. For instance, through the UK Trade Partnerships Programme, we have provided SMEs in the food, film and music sectors with dedicated support to export to the UK. The UK has also contributed 10 million US dollars to Compete Caribbean, a programme which supports businesses to become more productive and competitive in the global market.

  2. Likewise, the UK has put almost 70 million US Dollars into major agricultural projects in St Catherine, Clarendon and St Elizabeth through the UK Caribbean Infrastructure Fund, upgrading irrigation, roads and facilities to improve productivity and market access for farmers.

WTO

  1. The Secretariat report underlines that Jamaica considers foreign trade a ‘national priority’ to achieve sustainable and inclusive growth. The Report rightly reflects the continued commitment which Jamaica has shown to free, open trade, and to the wider Multilateral Trading System. And the evidence suggests that these efforts are not in vain: global trade is shown to play a significant role in the Jamaican economy, with exports and imports of goods and services growing in value to 95% GDP in 2022, from 82% in 2017.

  2. Some specific examples of Jamaica’s activity in this house: on Agriculture, Jamaica is an active and constructive participant in WTO negotiations, a vocal advocate for Net Food Importing Developing Countries and plays an important role as the focal point for CARICOM members.

  3. On Fish, as a Small Island Developing State, we acknowledge the importance that the Fisheries Subsidies Agreement has, not only for Jamaica but for the whole region, and we thank them for their on-going efforts and constructive dialogue; we will need these efforts now even more to continue charting the choppy waters to conclude Fish 2.

  4. On services the UK was particularly grateful for the role Jamaica played in the delivery of the paragraph on services trade that was included in the MC13 Declaration, and which emphasizes the importance of services trade and commits Members to further work in the area.

  5. Specifically on digital trade, Jamaica plays an active role in the Work Programme for Electronic Commerce, and was instrumental in helping to secure the extension of the moratorium on customs duties for electronic commerce at MC13. Let me take this opportunity to welcome Jamaican Ambassador, Dr Richard Brown, who has recently been appointed as the Facilitator of the Work Programme.

  6. Given Jamaica’s demonstrated interest in services and digital trade, we would really welcome their participation in related live plurilateral negotiations at the WTO, such as the Services Domestic Regulation Joint Initiative, the Investment Facilitation for Development Initiative and the E-commerce Joint Initiative.

  7. As one of the three co-chairs of the Informal Working Group on Gender, I would therefore like to welcome Jamaica’s commitment to its gender-inclusive trade agenda to support women’s participation in trade. Notably, through its 2022 National Investment Policy and the implementation of foreign trade policy initiatives such as the Women’s Entrepreneurship Support project established in 2017. I welcome hearing more about Jamaica’s experiences and inclusion initiatives within the Informal Working Group.

In conclusion, Chair, let me thank yourself, our Discussant, His Excellency Dr José Roberto Sánchez Fung, and the Jamaican delegation who I hope get the opportunity to catch a couple of wickets at some point this week. Thank you.

Published 10 July 2024