Post-Brexit trade deal close to being finalised, says Jamaican minister

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Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister, Senator Kamina Johnson-Smith (left), makes a point to State Minister, Senator Pearnel Charles Jr, at the quarterly press briefing held at the Ministry’s offices in New Kingston on November 7. Photo: D. Reid

By Chad Bryan

KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) — Jamaica’s minister of foreign affairs and foreign trade, Senator Kamina Johnson-Smith, says the technical work for the rollover of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) into a new CARIFORUM-United Kingdom trade arrangement post-Brexit is close to being finalised.

“The European Union (EU), I assure you, remains an important trade partner for Jamaica and our CARIFORUM colleagues, and the EPA will remain in place,” she said.

“It will continue to be the framework under which we trade with the EU, so we continue to work towards its ratification and to call on entrepreneurs and other players in the private sector to explore opportunities within this framework, even as we seek to improve implementation,” she added.

Meanwhile, she said that tariffs imposed by the United States on aluminium and steel continue to have little or no effect on Jamaican businesses.

The minister attributed this to the “alternatives and flexibility” that exist in the trading arrangements with countries that Jamaica exports to “such that we have not been impacted”.

“In fact, we have been advised by the relevant line ministry that Jamaica’s earnings from bauxite and alumina for the first half of 2018 were 60 percent and 95 percent, respectively, of the entire export values in 2017. If that (trend) continues, we will, in fact, have grown in the sector,” she said.

She said the improvements that have been achieved in the sector underscore “the importance of monitoring, maintaining a cool head [and] ensuring that you have data and analysis, so that you do not risk causing unnecessary panic within the sector and among the players”.

The US administration imposed tariffs of 10 percent and 25 percent on aluminium and steel, respectively, citing national security grounds. The tariffs took effect on March 23.

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