Posted: Friday, October 25, 2019. 1:09 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: The Senate met in special session this morning in record time to ratify a treaty safeguarding trade between Belize and fellow Caribbean states and the United Kingdom.
Belize is a member of the Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM) of the of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP), which includes all members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the observer Dominican Republic.
CARIFORUM signed an economic partnership agreement (EPA) with the European Union (EU) of which the U.K. is, at least currently, a member.
But after British voters agreed in a referendum to leave the EU (the latest deadline for which is just six days away on October 31), the British Government has need to renegotiate critical trade deals. In the case of the Caribbean, it imports wide amounts of sugar and bananas in particular.
Senator Godwin Hulse told reporters that CARIFORUM and U.K. representatives agreed on an EPA similar to that with the EU to continue the same relationship between the groupings in the event of “Brexit,” as the departure from the European Union process has been popularly called.
Currently there is haggling over whether to extend the deadline as the British Parliament continues to debate the latest withdrawal bill tabled by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has insisted on the October 31 deadline and has called for a general election if he cannot get his deal through Parliament.
Speaking for the Opposition People’s United Party (PUP), Senator Dr. Louis Zabaneh gave its support but complained that they did not have more time to scrutinize the treaty, pointing to an article apparently banning new or increased subsidies on products exported between CARIFORUM and the U.K.
But Hulse says with the passage of the treaty through the Senate, which has sole authority to approve such treaties, Belize’s standing is assured.
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