Hopes for Caribbean trade boost

SHAWN CUMBERBATCH, shawncumberbatch@nationnews.com

Added 29 April 2017

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LOCAL EXPOERTERS, and their Caribbean counterparts, stand to benefit now that a major international trade agreement has come into force.

Barbadian trade and development consultant Alicia Nicholls called the February introduction of the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) “a momentous achievement for the world, but also a plus for Caribbean small states which, like other developing countries, stand to benefit the most from the Agreement’s full implementation”.

“Indeed, WTO economists estimate that full implementation of the TFA ‘could reduce [global] trade costs by an average of 14.3 per cent and boost global trade by up to $1 trillion per year,” Nicholls said in a recent post on her blog Caribbeantradelaw.com.

Her views were backed up last week by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat, which said TFA “contains provisions for expediting the movement, release and clearance of goods, including goods in transit”, and “is designed to induce a significant reduction in global trade costs”.

“By so doing, developing countries, such as those of the CARICOM region, will have improved chances of diversifying and increasing their exports to international markets. Further, the reduction of incurred trade costs could expand considerably, prospects for CARICOM states to participate in global value chains and to extract benefits from that participation,” the secretariat said.

Last Wednesday and Thursday, the secretariat held a private sector consultation and capacity building workshop on the TFA and the CARICOM Strategy for Regional Implementation. It took place in Kingston, Jamaica and was held with the support of the Commonwealth Secretariat/European Union Hubs & Spokes II Programme, in collaboration with the World Bank Group (WBG).

The secretariat noted that the TFA emerged as part of the Bali Package of decisions that arose from the 9th WTO Ministerial Conference held in Bali in December 2013. It added that “notwithstanding the costs of implementation, the agreement is regarded as highly beneficial and important to the sustainable development of CARICOM member states”.

Nicholls, who is principal consultant of her own trade and development consultancy and think tank, Caribbean Trade Law & Development, said: “Caribbean countries should move expeditiously to develop and implement national strategies for trade facilitation”. (SC)

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