OECS Trade and Private Sector Officials to meet in Grenada

Virginia Paul

(OECS Secretariat, Castries, St. Lucia, July 6th 2011) – Grenada will be hosting the 16th Meeting of the OECS Trade Negotiations Group from July 7 & 8, 2011. Officials from Ministries of Trade and the Private Sector will meet to deliberate on critical issues related to the OECS’ trade policy, in regional, bilateral and multilateral trade arrangements.

The Trade Negotiations Group comprises trade officials, as well as representatives of the private sector and the OECS Secretariat. This is second time the TNG has met since the ratification of the revised treaty of Basseterre establishing the OECS Economic Union. It is also the first time that Montserrat will be participating in the TNG.

Bilateral negotiations between CARICOM and Canada will feature highly on the agenda following the third round of negotiations in April 2011. The region will be engaged in additional preparatory work before the next round of negotiations later this year. One area of intensive work has been in Services, where the region anticipates it will extract the most benefits from this agreement. The implementation of the OECS Economic Union will also feature highly on the agenda, focusing on the creation of the common market for goods and services. The multilateral negotiations in the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and CSME implementation will also be discussed by the meeting as well as ongoing trade capacity building projects that support the work of the OECS Trade Policy Unit.

The OECS Trade Policy Unit says a recent review of legislation in the OECS Member States to facilitate the pending implementation of EPA obligations with the European Union revealed several issues for further attention such as fees and accreditation bodies:”We need to look at issues such as the differential in fees charged. The difference between what they charge locals who wish to provide a service visa vis foreign nationals or nationals from the European Union. We need to look at things like definitions used in the legislation or used to describe certain types of business activity such as small and micro enterprises- joint ventures and they need to particularly pay some attention to developing regulatory frameworks for particular sectors such as courier services and they will need to establish for instance accreditation bodies to assess the qualifications of people who are operating in various sectors in their respective countries and look at the regime that we will be putting in place for competition policy visa vis the Economic Partnership Agreement.”-Paul

The Trade Negotiations Group (TNG) was established from an agreement emerging from the 36th meeting of the OECS Heads of Government in June 2002. The primary objective of the TNG is to facilitate the formulation of OECS positions on external trade negotiations issues.

The meeting is being funded under a Trade Capacity Building Project supported by the Inter-American Development Bank.

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