Local businesses are being encouraged to take advantage of opportunities under the CARIFORUM-UK Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), designed to open up and enhance trade between the UK and signatory CARIFORUM States.
This is a reciprocal trade and development partnership that facilitates duty-free, quota-free access for CARIFORUM exports, among other things.
Addressing the United Kingdom-Jamaica Trade Business Forum, ‘Exploring Trade Opportunities for UK and Jamaica’, on March 2 at JAMPRO in New Kingston, Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Senator the Hon. Aubyn Hill, encouraged local businesses to leverage the opportunities available under the EPA to enable them to access the large retail sales market of the UK, valued at £496 billion.
“The Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, in collaboration with JAMPRO, looks forward to supporting Jamaican exporters in getting their goods into the UK, through the knowledge-sharing of packaging requirement, provision of sector-specific information and introduction to potential buyers in the UK. I am also certain, based on the engagement here today, the British High Commission will support this drive,” he said.
Total trade between Jamaica and the UK was £397 million to the end of the third quarter of 2022, an increase of 43.3 per cent or £120 million over 2021.
UK imports from Jamaica were £304 million, of which £44 million (14.5 per cent) were goods and £260 million (85.5 per cent) were services.
The UK’s exports to Jamaica were £93 million of which £46 million (49.5 per cent) were goods and £47 million (50.5 per cent) were services.
British High Commissioner to Jamaica, Her Excellency Judith Slater, who also brought greetings at the event, said while these figures represent a partial recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, this is not yet a return to pre-pandemic levels.
In addition, she said while Jamaica’s tourism sector has grown steadily, the country’s traditional export commodities have declined and other domestic goods have not kept pace with that decline.
Significantly, she noted that Jamaica’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have struggled to enter the international markets.
“This is where the EPA can help. The CARIFORUM-UK EPA, which came into effect in January 2021, is working to permanently remove trade barriers between the UK and the Caribbean. For example, it is providing duty-free access to the UK market for Jamaican and other CARIFORUM exporters, which gives Jamaica a competitive edge over businesses from elsewhere that don’t benefit from these agreements and are trying to sell into the UK,” the High Commissioner said.
She pointed out that British businesses should also benefit from the gradual reduction in tariffs coming this way on the vast majority of outputs over the next 10 years.
The High Commissioner said there are also benefits for services, with most services sectors having been liberalised under the agreement.
She also urged CARIFORUM states to ratify the EPA and bring it into domestic legislation.
“This will provide predictability and transparency, which traders and investors need to take decisions over the medium and longer term. The UK remains very open to assisting partners in the ratification process,” she added, noting that support will also be offered to technical EPA issues faced by CARIFORUM countries.
The CARIFORUM -UK EPA is a comprehensive agreement that contains important provisions on services, intellectual property, procurement, competition and other modern trade policy issues.
In 2008, Jamaica, along with many other Caribbean, islands signed the CARIFORUM Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union (EU). There are currently 14 territories within the Caribbean that are covered by the CARIFORUM-UK EPA.
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