OECS Customs and Trade officials discuss further plans to make trading in the OECS better for business

Alicia Stephen

Castries (November 26, 2010) – Issues and recommendations from national consultations in OECS Member States formed the main part of Wednesday’s talks on the importance of trade facilitation in improving the region’s competitiveness and sustaining an OECS Economic Union.

This as OECS Customs and Trade officials met in Saint Lucia on the critical importance of trade facilitation to the OECS Economic Union. The meeting from November 24th to 25th heard results of a study conducted in August to establish a comprehensive trade facilitation framework that will operate in the OECS Economic Union. The study launched by the OECS Secretariat in August 2010, was executed by IBF International Consulting with funding from the TradeCom facility, a project under the 9th European Development Fund (EDF) Caribbean Integration Support Programme (CISP). The meeting of Customs and Trade Officials will also lead towards informing a final report to the OECS Heads of Government.

Alicia Stephen Programme Officer at the OECS Trade Policy Unit OTPU welcomed the regional meeting on OECS trade facilitation as a special opportunity to reflect issues and recommendations coming out of national consultations. She continued, this activity is a major milestone in the journey towards the realization of the OECS Economic Union. The study which will be considered is one of the critical pieces of work that are intended to provide the roadmap for bringing the provisions – and benefits – of the Revised Treaty of Basseterre, into reality.

Virginia Paul

Head of the OECS Trade Policy Unit Virginia Paul reminded the participants of the critical role trade facilitation plays in doing business in the OECS: Our discussions; ” Given the fact that services trade contributes over 75 percent of exports in Member States, trade facilitation initiatives must extend to services trade . The conclusions and recommendations of this study will also inform the development of the trade policy regime of the economic union, since it encompasses the legislative, regulatory institutional and infrastructural requirement to ensure the effective operation of the trade components of the economic union.”

Senior Trade and Customs officials reviewed the consultants’ report, with particular focus on recommendations, resource mobilization and the implementation plan. Recommendations emerging from the study cover trade policy formulation, legislation, operation of a common market, transportation and infrastructure, public education and strategies for resource mobilization. Officials also guided the refinement, adoption and prioritization of the recommendations. Facilitation treats with the factors that affect the cost and time to move goods and services across borders and is critical for the effective and efficient operation of the OECS Economic Union. The OECS Trade Policy Unit says the ease of movement of goods and services will contribute to trade efficiency and improved competitiveness of the region.

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