World Trade Organisation: Jamaica Trade Policy Review, July 2024: UK Statement

Mr. Chairman, I would like to begin by extending a very warm welcome to Minister Johnson Smith and her delegation from Jamaica. I would also like to express my gratitude to my colleagues from Jamaica and to the WTO Secretariat for their reports, to you, as always, and to our distinguished panelist, the Ambassador of the Dominican Republic, for his astute comments.

Let me, like others, start by expressing my sadness and solidarity with those affected by Hurricane Beryl in the Caribbean, but in this particular case also with the people and government of Jamaica. I would like to take this opportunity to express the opinion of my new Minister of Foreign Affairs, David Lammy, who said that he is thinking of those who have lost loved ones, their homes and who still do not have electricity.

I will say that last week, as the Minister knows, the UK increased its support to £500,000 for the Caribbean countries worst affected by the devastation caused by the hurricane. And of course, that is not in itself devastating, it is also a stark reminder of the climate emergency and our new UK Government has made it clear that climate action is at the heart of our work and will remain at the heart of our work.

Moving on to slightly less serious matters for a moment, of course this isn’t the only big event between Jamaica and Great Britain today. Indeed, at Lord’s this morning we get underway with the first Test between England and the West Indies. As someone who grew up watching England get humiliated by the West Indies on a regular basis, I was hoping for a slightly more even match today, but we’ll see.

Bilateral Trade and EPA

Now let’s get down to business. Since our last Trade Review, the UK and Jamaica have had cause to celebrate some pretty significant milestones. 2022 marked 60 years of diplomatic relations, giving us cause to reflect on our close and productive relationship and the opportunity to ask ourselves how we can deepen it even further. It didn’t take long to answer that question. Last December, we held our inaugural Joint Ministerial Council on the UK-CARIFORUM EPA, which set out how we would continue to deliver the agreement and provided an opportunity to discuss some of the key market access barriers.

This agreement has helped to secure bilateral trade between the UK and Jamaica. Jamaica’s successful implementation of the Agreement’s tariff liberalisation schedule creates opportunities for UK exporters as well as Jamaican businesses and consumers. The administration of customs procedures in accordance with this agreement is essential to ensure that these benefits are realised for all.

Bilateral trade between the UK and Jamaica amounted to almost US$745 million in goods and services last year; an impressive increase of 20%, or US$125 million, on the previous year. We certainly hope that these figures will continue to grow.

Report analysis

Turning to the specifics of this review, we deeply appreciate Jamaica’s engagement with the Advanced Written Questions that we have submitted. They allow us to better understand Jamaica’s trade policies, which in turn enables us to further improve our trade relations. The same is true for the reports, both of Jamaica and of the WTO Secretariat.

These reports, of course, detail the significant impact of the COVID pandemic on Jamaica’s economy, as the Minister has done. However, they also highlight many of Jamaica’s greatest strengths: the modernization of key institutions, increasingly diversified exports, and continued growth in line with Vision 2030 Jamaica. As the International Monetary Fund noted in its 2024 Article 4 consultation, Jamaica has successfully reduced its public debt, anchored inflation, and strengthened its external position—all achievements that we should celebrate today.

Support programmes in the UK

The UK is proud to support much of this admirable economic progress through trade-related programmes. For example, through the UK Trade Partnerships Programme, we have provided SMEs in the food, film and music sectors for which Jamaica is renowned with dedicated support to help them export to the UK.

We also provided US$10 million to Compete Caribbean, a programme that supports businesses to become more productive and competitive in the global market. We also invested almost US$70 million in major agricultural projects in St Catherine, Clarendon and St Elizabeth through the UK Caribbean Infrastructure Fund, improving irrigation, roads and facilities to increase productivity and market access for Jamaican farmers.

World Trade Organization

The WTO Secretariat report emphasizes that Jamaica considers foreign trade to be a “national priority” for achieving sustainable and inclusive growth. And rightly so. The report rightly reflects the continued commitment that Jamaica has shown to free and open trade and the broader Multilateral Trading System. And the evidence suggests that these efforts are indeed not in vain: global trade plays a significant role in the success of Jamaica’s economy, with exports and imports of goods and services expected to grow to 95% of GDP by 2022.

Here are some specific examples of Jamaica’s activity in this chamber, as others have also commented. In agriculture, Jamaica has been an active and constructive participant in the WTO negotiations, a vocal advocate of Net Food Importing Developing Countries, and has played an important role as a focal point for CARICOM members.

On the issue of fisheries, as a small island developing state, we recognize the importance of the Fisheries Subsidy Agreement, not only for Jamaica but for the entire region, and we thank Jamaica for its continued efforts and constructive dialogue. We will need these efforts even more to continue to map the troubled waters so that we can get fishing and end Fisheries Two.

On services, the United Kingdom expressed particular appreciation to Jamaica for the role it had played in implementing the paragraph on trade in services which was included in the MC13 Declaration, which emphasised the importance of trade in services and committed Members to further work in this area.

In terms of digital trade, Jamaica is playing an active role in the E-Commerce Work Programme and was instrumental in securing the extension of the crucial e-commerce tariff moratorium at MC13. Let me take this opportunity to welcome Jamaica’s Ambassador, Dr. Richard Brown, who was recently appointed, as previously mentioned, as the Coordinator of the Work Programme.

Given Jamaica’s interest in services and digital trade, we would welcome Jamaica’s participation in related multilateral negotiations, whether they be on domestic regulation of the services sector, the Investment Facilitation Initiative for Development or the Joint E-Commerce Initiative.

As one of the three fortunate co-chairs of the Informal Working Group on Trade and Gender, I would like to welcome Jamaica’s commitment to implementing its gender-responsive trade agenda to support women’s participation in trade, particularly through its National Investment Policy 2022 and the implementation of foreign trade policy initiatives such as the Women’s Entrepreneurship Support Project established in 2017. I look forward to hearing more about Jamaica’s experiences and integration initiatives within our Informal Working Group.

In conclusion, I would like to thank the Chairman, our Discussant, the Minister, her team and I hope that there will be less shenanigans and much more response!