On January 31, 2020, the United Kingdom formally withdrew from the European Union, with the passage of the United Kingdom’s Brexit bill through the House of Commons and the House of Lords, receiving royal assent.
The European Union and the United Kingdom have agreed to a Withdrawal Agreement pursuant to Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union, which provides for a time-limited transition period, ends on December 31, 2020. The transition period provides continuity in the trading relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union, and with other WTO Members.
The Withdrawal Agreement also provides that, for the duration of the transition period, the United Kingdom is treated as a Member State of the European Union for the purpose of international agreements entered into by the European Union. One such agreement is the CARIFORUM-European Union Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) which was signed in 2008.
The United Kingdom is the most significant trading partner for the CARIFORUM States, which includes St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Some of the main exports from St. Vincent and the Grenadines to the United Kingdom include dasheen, mangoes, rum, cocoa beans, chocolate and pepper sauce. In order to preserve the trading arrangements with the United Kingdom, a CARIFORUM–UK Economic Partnership Agreement was negotiated was signed in March, 2019 and ratified by the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in November 2019.
The government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines is optimistic that the CARIFORUM–UK EPA will provide significant market opportunities for trade in goods, services and investment. The Government will continue to work with other CARIFORUM States and the United Kingdom to ensure a seamless transition in trading arrangements with the United Kingdom before January 2021.