Basseterre, St. Kitts, October 23, 2015 (SKNIS): The Ministry of International Trade, on October 22 held a National Workshop on Trade Facilitation to provide an opportunity for private and public stakeholders to understand the obligations that developing countries like St. Kitts and Nevis have accepted, which should result in the development of partnerships that will arrive at mutually beneficial outcomes for both governments and traders.
Minister of International Trade, Honourable Lindsay Grant, stated that the workshop, which was a collaboration between the ministry and the International Trade Centre (ITC), the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), was very important to the Federation.
“In fact we speak about trade facilitation in conjunction with business facilitation or improving the business environment because we have concluded that if there is no business, there is no trade,” explained the minister. “This ensures that as we work at continuously improving our business environment, in order to succeed, we must provide the best facilities and environment to ensure that there are no unnecessary delays, in particular bureaucratic delays that will impede trade at all stages in moving goods and services in and out of St. Kitts and Nevis, that is, across our borders.”
The primary objective of the workshop is to assist the key players of the public and private sectors to improve their appreciation and understanding of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) and identify and assess the steps required for implementing the TFA in the Federation. The Minister stated that his ministry has been working towards implementation of the agreement over that last year.
“The ministry has conducted consultations with the major stakeholders to discuss ratification of the agreement to ensure that St. Kitts and Nevis can enjoy the benefits of it,” said Minister Grant. “Having done the consultations, we are moving towards ratifying the agreement before the end of the year. This workshop and the technical assistance being provided will certainly help the Federation in conducting and completing the implementation process.”
The Honourable Minister revealed that border agencies, in particular the Customs and Excise Department, have been working in close collaboration with the ministry to ensure that the agreement is approved without unnecessary delay as the TFA is “a major facility to ensure that trade is conducted without frustration and confusion, in particular to our private sector friends.”
The minister stated that the TFA will help in complementing the work that is being done through the leadership of the Customs and Excise Department in implementing the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA) World in the Federation.
The International Trade Centre (ITC), the OECS Commission and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) provided the funds and resources for the workshop.
“The presence of their expertise reflects that additional importance, that we all give to this workshop,” said the minister.