RNM Newsletter, June 2, 2005

Original Publication Date: 
1 June, 2005

June 2, 2005

Prepared by the Communications Division of the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery (RNM), this electronic newsletter focuses on the RNM, trade negotiation issues within its mandate and related activities.

- BELIZE-GUATEMALA TRADE PACT TALKS EXTENDED
+ NEGOCIACIONES DEL PACTO COMERCIAL ENTRE BELIZE Y GUATEMALA SE
+ EXTIENDEN
- THE ANTIGUAN INTERNET GAMING CASE, THE WAY FORWARD
- CARIFORUM-EC EPA TALKS ON TRACK, SAY PRINCIPAL NEGOTIATORS
- FORUM ON SPECIAL AND DIFFERENTIAL TREATMENT TO BE HELD IN BARBADOS
- NEWS BRIEFS
- UPCOMING EVENTS

BELIZE-GUATEMALA TRADE PACT TALKS EXTENDED

Belizean and Guatemalan negotiators met in Antigua, Guatemala, May 23 to 27, in a bid to conclude talks for a Belize-Guatemala Partial Scope Trade Agreement (PSA), substantive negotiations for which began in February this year. Recognizing that outstanding issues warranted an additional negotiating session, a decision was made at last week's encounter to convene a fourth and final round of talks, to take place in Guatemala City, Guatemala, June 15 to 18.

Mr. Jose Alpuche, Director-General in the Directorate General for Foreign Trade, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belize, told RNM UPDATE that despite the need for an additional negotiating session the two sides were pleased with the pace of negotiations, 'which have been substantially advanced at this third encounter.'

The need for more time to consider proposals on market access was cited as the primary reason for the decision to convene a fourth round of talks. 'Market access is the major outstanding issue,' Director-General Alpuche confirmed to RNM UPDATE. The market access talks include negotiations on lowering existing tariff and non-tariff barriers to further facilitate and enhance trade relations between both countries. Key in the week-long discussions was consideration of the list of goods to be covered by the PSA.

The top Belizean trade official revealed that considerable progress had been made on the 'bulk of substantive issues under negotiation,' in particular talks have been concluded for an Investment Chapter (of great interest to both sides), which met with broad agreement. In addition to opening up trade in a limited number of goods, the expectation is the trade pact would also provide an investment promotion and protection framework, that advances clear and transparent rules providing for a stable environment for investments. The Belizean private sector is particularly keen on joint ventures with their Guatemalan counterparts in an effort to increase value-added in the agri-business sector. Mr. Alpuche also underscored the investment opportunities offered by Belize for joint ventures to access the CARICOM market, under the Single Market and Economy (SME).

The two sides have also settled on issues such as sanitary and phyto-sanitary, technical barriers to trade, and dispute settlement, while significant progress was made on the other central component of talks, the Land Transportation Facilitation Chapter.

Proposals on tourism facilitation and financial services have also been tabled by the Guatemalans. There is agreement that talks on tourism issues will commence at this month's encounter. Belizean negotiators are currently analyzing proposals for financial services to be included in the trade accord. Both countries have similar legislative frameworks which may enable articles on facilitation to be negotiated.

The overall objective of the PSA, the first such trade pact Belize is pursuing with a Central American country, is to enhance cross-border trade, market access and commercial linkages between Belize and Guatemala, for a limited basket of products. As regards the specific list of goods to be negotiated for preferential market access, particular attention is being given to the volume and value of trade between the two parties. Provisions for the removal of non-tariff barriers have also been included in the PSA.

There are three Negotiating Groups that form the broad parameters for negotiations, namely: Market Access; Rules and Procedures; Investment and Land Transportation. Private Sector contact groups are also in place, to assist in the process of negotiations, and in the implementation of the Agreement. Negotiations for the trade accord were officially launched in November 2004, following the adoption of a General Framework Document outlining the scope and negotiating process for the PSA, by Belizean and Guatemalan Trade Ministers.

'The PSA is being negotiated to ensure that it is compliant with the Treaty of Chaguaramas,' Mr. Alpuche explained. During a meeting of the CARICOM Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) in January this year, Belize formally submitted an Article 80 notification to CARICOM regarding negotiations for a PSA with Guatemala. Under Article 80 (Paragraph 5) of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, Belize has been granted a special dispensation to negotiate 'arrangements with neighbouring economic groupings.'

With negotiations and 'legal scrubbing' of the trade accord slated for completion this month, it is expected the PSA will be tabled for consideration at the next meeting of COTED.

NEGOCIACIONES DEL PACTO COMERCIAL ENTRE BELIZE Y GUATEMALA SE EXTIENDEN

Los negociadores belize