This meeting was convened to collectively discuss and develop practical approaches to support the free circulation of goods within the OECS economic union as outlined in the revised Treaty of Basseterre.
The International Monetary Fund’s (IMF’s) Caribbean Regional Technical Assistance Center (CARTAC) hosted the workshop in Castries, Saint Lucia, from October 20 – 23, 2014.
The workshop brought together 46 officials of OECS border control agencies from seven OECS members states including customs administrations, ministries of trade and commerce, ministries of agriculture, and bureaus of standards.
Virginia Paul heads the OECS Commission’s Trade Policy Unit which facilitated the exercise on Customs and Border Control reforms to enhance the process towards the free circulation of goods.
Ms. Paul says the meeting displayed a pleasant and spirited level of engagement and among other things, agreed on the need to ensure that the trading environment is harmonised as far as possible.
The event, entitled: “The OECS Strategizing Workshop for developing and Implementing Customs and other Border Control Reforms to facilitate deeper Economic Integration and Free Circulation of Goods within the OECS Economic Union” was geared towards developing strategic approaches to (i) assessing the current situation in the region in terms of identifying obstacles and gaps and the level of preparedness to implement free circulation of goods, (ii) identifying solutions to facilitate the implementation of this regime, (iii) prioritizing these initiatives, and (iv) and developing an action plan to roll out these strategies within the three (3) regional sub-groupings.
Ms. Paul told the OECS News Link (www.oecs.org) many manufacturers are awaiting the free circulation of goods becausethey see it as a way of obtaining inputs cheaper and faster. To this end the OECS Business Council is being encouraged to participate in the regional task force on the implementation of the Free Circulation of Goods.
Officials from the CARICOM Regional Organization for Standards and Quality (CROSQ), the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), and Compete Caribbean also contributed significantly to the meeting.
For more than a decade, CARTAC has provided critical technical assistance to Caribbean customs administrations to help strengthen their systems, laws, procedures, organizational structures, and operational strategies to deal with the challenges of the interconnected global economy.