THE Government will soon bring legislation to Parliament to enact a treaty signed between Cariforum and the UK to prevent any sudden imposition of tariffs if the UK leaves the European Union (EU).
Trade Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon told Newsday this yesterday at a function at Export TT in Port of Spain.
Her promised action came even as British politics descended into chaos. She assured the Government was keeping abreast of developments in the UK.
Yesterday, 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 (known as a "no-deal Brexit"), as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had promised for October 31.
On Monday Johnson lost his working majority, expelled the rebels from the party and threatened a mid-October snap election.
Gopee-Scoon said, “We have signed an agreement with the EPA. This is to allow for a smooth transition with Brexit.”
On April 1, TT like other individual Caribbean nations, had signed onto the Cariforum/UK Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). Originally, an EPA was signed in 2008 between Cariforum’s 15 states (namely most Caricom nations and the Dominican Republic) and the EU’s 28 states, to make trade and investment easier between the two regions.
Gopee-Scoon said, “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 TT’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 the happenings in Westminster, she said, “We monitor proceedings. But it is internal challenges to the UK at this time, and we can only look on and monitor and be ready to prepare ourselves for a transition that could come on October 31.”