Caribbean Community: Trade

Business and Trade – in the House of Commons at on 2 May 2024.

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Photo of Daniel Kawczynski Daniel Kawczynski Conservative, Shrewsbury and Atcham

What recent progress she has made on increasing levels of trade with Caribbean Community member states.

Photo of Greg Hands Greg Hands Party Chair, Conservative Party, Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)

My hon. Friend is a great champion of international trade, as the Prime Minister’s trade envoy for Mongolia. He will be pleased to know that annual trade between the UK and the Caribbean economic community, CARICOM, in 2023 was £5.1 billion—up 11% in current prices on the previous year. In December 2023, I represented the UK at the inaugural joint council of our economic partnership agreement, where I met representatives of CARICOM and the Dominican Republic, collectively known as CARIFORUM, underlining the importance of our trading relationship and exploring opportunities to further boost trade.

Photo of Daniel Kawczynski Daniel Kawczynski Conservative, Shrewsbury and Atcham

I speak as the chairman of the all-party parliamentary groups on St Kitts and Nevis, Guyana and the Caribbean. It is an extremely important region for the United Kingdom, one of the largest concentrations of British overseas territories and Commonwealth nations in the world, with historic links with the United Kingdom, but the copy-and-paste trade deals that we have with them, carried over from the European Union, are not sufficient. We need a more tailor-made, specific trade agreement between the United Kingdom and the Caribbean Community to ensure that some of those protectionist measures that the European Union imposed on our CARICOM friends can be rescinded. When will that happen?

Photo of Greg Hands Greg Hands Party Chair, Conservative Party, Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)

I thank my hon. Friend for his engagement in the region, in St Kitts, the Caribbean as a whole and Guyana, which remains in all our minds at the moment given the situation on its borders. He is right to highlight the CARIFORUM trade deal; it is a deal that the UK values, and I mentioned that we have had the inaugural meeting of the body designed to ensure that the deal has good effects on our trade with the Caribbean. I might suggest arranging a meeting between my hon. Friend and the trade commissioner Jonathan Knott, who I am sure would be delighted to meet him to discuss Caribbean trade possibilities still further.