MEMBERS OF THE Trinidad-based Association of Caribbean States (ACS) are examining the possibility of granting tariff preferences to neighbouring countries within the Greater Caribbean Region, including states in Central and South America.
The proposal was made when the ACS held its 30th External Economic Relations Meeting on Trade Development and External Economic Relations at its headquarters in Port of Spain on September 22.
The ACS is the organisation for consultation, cooperation and concerted action in trade, transport, sustainable tourism and natural disasters in the Greater Caribbean.
The proposal came from Colombia’s Director of Economic Integration Andres de la Cadena, who chaired the special committee which looked at expanding economic relations among ACS member states.
Cadena said the initiative would greatly assist in deepening of trade relations and the development of the respective economies.
ACS Director of Trade, Albert Duran, gave an update on completed activities; ongoing projects; new initiatives and collaborative efforts in which the directorate is currently engaged.
He said significant advancements were made in the areas of trade facilitation, through the execution of two projects funded by Mexico: “International Transit of Goods in the Greater Caribbean” and “Interconnectivity for Improved Trade Facilitation and Short Distance Maritime Transport in the Greater Caribbean”.
An ACS statement said the former aimed to facilitate the exchange of Customs information and the harmonisation of Customs requirements and procedures, while the latter would facilitate maritime transport by reducing paperwork, simplification of formalities, requirements and procedures associated with the arrival, stay and departure of vessels in international travel, as well as reduce obstacles faced at terminals and improve efficiency through the automation of their operating sytems.
Other advancements include the development of the ACS Business Travel Card Scheme, an initiative of the ACS in collaboration with the International Organisation for Migration, which seeks to improve business mobility management for trade enhancement.
The meeting approved the proposal for the implementation of the pilot project of this initiative. Duran also presented the draft work programme for the period 2015-2016.
Based on four focal points, the work programme, which was unanimously approved, will: consider actions to further promote trade convergence, with special emphasis on the small economies of the Greater Caribbean; developp actions to consolidate and promote the development and expansion of trade and investment, its facilitation, competitiveness and connectivity among the countries of the ACS region; integrate the ACS region with other regional initiatives relating to the business convergence and promote and encourage international trade negotiations and training on trade issues.
These areas will be developed through specific activities which include the convening of trade business forums, the issuing of trade economic bulletins, the development and strengthening of micro, small and medium enterprises of the countries of the ACS, and training and capacity building in trade-related areas through both online and face-to-face seminars and courses. (AB)