T&T braces for Brexit

T&T braces for Brexit

Saturday, September 07, 2019

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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) — Trade Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon says the Dr Keith Rowley-led Administration is looking at bringing legislation to Parliament to enact a treaty signed between Cariforum and the United Kingdom to prevent any sudden imposition of tariffs if the UK leaves the European Union (EU).

Gopee-Scoon told the Trinidad NewsDay that the Government is keeping abreast of developments in the UK.

“We have signed an agreement with the EPA (Economic Partnership Agreement). This is to allow for a smooth transition with Brexit,” the trade minister said.

On April 1, the twin island republic and other individual Caribbean nations signed on to the Cariforum/UK Economic Partnership Agreement.

Originally, an EPA was signed in 2008 between Cariforum's 15 states and the EU's 28 states, to make trade and investment easier between the two regions.

“Now we are coming close to it (Brexit) — although anything could happen the way things are going. But the sense [is] that a closing date is coming, we are called upon to get the legislation in place, so we've got to rush to do that.”

This legislation would retain Trinidad and Tobago's existing tariff status with the UK.

“We'll make sure there is a seamless opportunity for our goods entering the UK to have the same tariff advantages and so on. So it's almost a rollover.”

She said a Bill to enact the treaty has been locally drafted and has since been slightly modified.

“We got that on Tuesday. Now that we have that, we will do what we did with the EPA and put local legislation in place. There's been some slight modification, which we have to get to the attorney general's office so they can work on it. Then again we're waiting on the final text from Caricom to move forward.”

On Wednesday, a cross-party alliance, including 21 rebels from the ruling Conservative Party, passed the first stage of a Bill in the House of Commons to stop the UK leaving the EU without agreed terms as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had promised for October 31.

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