OECS Secretariat, Castries, St. Lucia, October 6th, 2010. Senior customs officials and trade facilitation experts in the OECS have enhanced their capacity to undertake, inform or manage procedures that will make the movement of goods and services through ports in the OECS a lot easier.
This follows a recently ended regional consultation on trade facilitation from which was organised by the OECS Trade Policy Unit. The consultation was targeted at senior customs officials and trade facilitation experts.
In order to ensure coherence and coordination, development partners and officials exchanged information on the implementation of trade facilitation programmes at the national and regional levels. Participants received an update on the ongoing CARICOM – Canada negotiations, examined the text being negotiated in the World Trade Organisation WTO and discussed the trade facilitation obligations under the CARIFORUM-EC EPA.
The meeting also launched a United Nations Conference on Trade and development (UNCTAD) Trade Facilitation Cluster Development study which seeks to identify and simplify trade procedures in Member States.
Participants further discussed the significance of harmonized policies in OECS Trade Facilitation to the OECS Economic Union which is to be fully implemented in January 2011.
On the final day of the consultation, participants were engaged in a tour of Port Castries. The Port Castries visit was designed to expose OECS trade officials on procedures at the port to help inform a more cohesive approach by Member States in meeting the requirements for enhanced trade facilitation as well as ensure that such procedures are compatible with WTO rules. Issues such as customs, liberalization, the categorization of goods and the issuing of licenses for importing goods were discussed during the tour of Port Castries.
The conclusions and recommendations of the consultation are to be used by the OECS Geneva Mission and the Trade Policy Unit in their technical assistance and capacity building work in trade facilitation.
The consultation held from the 21st to 24th September was funded by UNCTAD
Trade Facilitation is about simplifying, standardizing and harmonizing procedures involved in international trade transactions in order to reduce costs and time and increase transparency and predictability. Experts also believe that enhanced Trade facilitation procedures will further attract, sustain or increase investor interest thereby boosting the economies of Eastern Caribbean States.