Press Releases

PRESS RELEASE : WTO’s OECS Trade Policy Review – UK statement [May 2023]

The press release issued by the Foreign Office on 3 May 2023.

The UK’s Permanent Representative to the WTO, Ambassador Simon Manley, gave a statement during OECS’s fourth WTO Trade Policy Review (TPR).

  1. Chair, may I warmly welcome the impressive OECS delegation, led by Minister, the Honourable Chet Greene, to its 4th Trade Policy Review. We are grateful to the OECS Members and the WTO Secretariat for their Reports, and to our distinguished Discussant, Ambassador Nadia Theodore, for her insightful, moving and yes spicy comments. Her father should indeed be proud.
  2. The countries of the OECS are of course nations with whom we have long and enduring ties, most members of the Commonwealth, some even sharing the same head of state, to be crowned this very week, and many of whose people have so enriched the society, economy and culture of the UK – and for that, I thank them. We were delighted that our Foreign Office Minister David Rutley was able to visit the OECS Secretariat in beautiful St Lucia in March and we look forward to the UK-Caribbean Forum with Foreign Secretary James Cleverly in June.
  3. Let me also thank the Governments of the OECS countries for ratifying the CARIFORUM – UK Economic Partnership Agreement. We are grateful for their collaboration in the implementation of that EPA and we look forward to continuing work with the CARIFORUM States to make the EPA a meaningful, living agreement, an Agreement that creates opportunities for both Caribbean and UK businesses.
  4. Chair, we must stay alive to the individual challenges Members of this organisation face. As such, let me highlight the unjust environmental disparities faced by OECS Members, about which the Minister spoke so eloquently this morning. We must seek to champion trade and climate at the WTO, but also make it central to our own policies.
  5. Following the destruction caused across the north-eastern Caribbean, by Hurricane Maria back in 2017, to which the Minister also referred, I would also like to show my support and wish Dominica luck in becoming the first ‘climate resilient’ nation.
  6. The UK also look forward to seeing the benefits of the regional Agricultural policy introduced over the review period, which will, we hope, reduce rural poverty and build resilience against climate change.
  7. Multilaterally, the UK has been a strong advocate of SIDS, combining our own expertise, convening power and multilateral influence to seek action on the challenges that SIDS face. This was, I hope, demonstrated throughout our COP presidency, where we sought to give a voice to the SIDS whose experience on the front line of climate change helped galvanise the world into action in Glasgow.
  8. In December 2022, the UK launched the Principles for Improved Aid Impact in SIDS at the Effective Development Cooperation Summit in Geneva, alongside Canada and the Alliance of Small Island Sates (AOSIS). We very much look forward to working with the international community to drive action on SIDS climate and economic resilience ahead of the pivotal UN SIDS Summit.
  9. I am also keen to highlight the important and influential voice of the OECS within the Commonwealth Small States Office, an organisation the UK is very proud to support.
  10. Let me also address certain areas of market access with OECS Members, where the UK sees room for progress. The UK is keen to reduce barriers to trade where we can and are pleased to see that the Chief Veterinary Officers in Dominica and St. Lucia have agreed to conduct a Risk Assessment to the UK to remove the ban on bovine and other meats. Although the barrier currently stands as high priority, I am encouraged by the now swift movement towards a resolution. I hope that soon our succulent British beef and lamb will be used once again in Dominican households and restaurants. The UK believes that sharing best practice and recent data will allow us to progress this more effectively.
  11. Here in Geneva, we of course recognise the capacity constraints the OECS team faces. That being said, we would encourage greater WTO notifications, especially around agriculture and SPS. Making use of technical assistance and capacity building where necessary.
  12. Nevertheless, despite having a very small team in Geneva, I would like to praise the OECS for its proactive and pragmatic multilateral presence. Few would disagree that the OECS delegation punches well above its weight, or even its height. And let me in that respect congratulate my notably tall friend, Ambassador Murdoch.
  13. To focus on some of the multilateral successes, let me first congratulate OECS nations on ratification of the Trade Facilitation Agreement over the review period.
  14. Let me also highlight the OECS’s positive engagement with dispute settlement reform, the IFD and e-commerce work programmes, as well as fisheries negotiations. All of which have demonstrated the constructive cooperation the OECS brings to this organisation.
  15. Last but far from least, we welcome the OECS’s support for the Joint Declaration on Women’s Economic Empowerment adopted at MC11 and the domestic efforts its members have outlined in this trade policy review to promote women’s economic empowerment. Madam Chair, as you know better than anyone, after your distinguished spell as one of the coordinators of the working group on gender, we are all aware of the importance of integrating women and women-led businesses into global markets and the role that such integration can play in unlocking fresh opportunities for countries to develop.

16. Chair, to conclude, we are grateful to our OECS friends for engaging in this important transparency exercise and wish them a most successful 4th Review, just as look forward to growing the trading and political relationship between our nations to which we are so committed.