Basseterre, St. Kitts, April 19, 2016 (SKNIS): In an effort to make the process of trading with the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis more seamless, efficient and less time-consuming the Ministry of International Trade, Commerce and Consumer Affairs in collaboration with the Customs and Excise Department coordinated a workshop on April 19 with that objective in mind.
Andrew Satney, Policy Adviser in the Ministry of International Trade explained that the necessary procedures to facilitate trade were being undertaken.
“We’re in the process of ratifying the Trade Facilitation Agreement and as we speak the paperwork is with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who will organize the necessary treaty instrument and send it off to Brussels (capital of Belgium) which means we’ll be part of the process,” Mr. Satney said, noting that most trading countries are expect to go along with that agreement. “As we see it in St. Kitts and Nevis, meaning we in Trade and Customs and so on, “trade facilitation” is not something we have to do for somebody, we are doing it for us. If we improve the trade and business environment, it means therefore it will reflect a positive image as a country to do business.”
Representing the Customs and Excise Department, Kennedy De Silva, Acting Comptroller of Customs, outlined how a specific process could be made more seamless.
“Essentially trade facilitation from my point of view is modernization,” Mr. De Silva said. “There’s things like risk management, where you determine, if you’re checking somebody, and you don’t have any reason to believe that the person is suspect – why delay, you allow them to go through because they are not a risk,” he said, outlining that the opposite can occur where there may be someone who comes through, who you may have reason to be concerned about, then you will have to take them out of the cue for a detailed check. “What that means is that you don’t arbitrarily go and inspect everyone – you have to pick and choose your target, so that you use your resources in a more meaningful way.”
Mr. De Silva explained that the Customs and Excise Department already employs such measures but that the new process requires that other agencies do so as well.
As outlined by Mr. Satney, the workshop included several agencies in order to reduce some of the delays that sometimes occur at the borders of a country.
“When I say at the border, I mean at Customs and the delays can also be caused by different agencies, not necessarily only Customs,” he said. “So we have with us all the border agencies who work with Customs in ensuring that goods go through the borders quickly and smoothly.”
Mr. Satney further revealed that in all trade agreements, there is an area that speaks to trade facilitation which is a very important aspect of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and other agreements that the Federation has signed on to. He added that the involvement of all personnel working in trading was necessary.
“In our deliberations and discussions in looking at who should be present at this workshop, taking into consideration what is expected in the outcome, we thought it prudent to bring in some persons in the private sector,” Mr. Satney said, noting that they would have to be involved in shipping, trading and exporting. “So within the group here, we have people from Horsfords, TDC and so on who do the business every day, so people at Customs see them all the time. “We can all work together at ensuring we have a harmonized approach to trade facilitation, because at the end of the day in order to attract business and commerce in this country, you must ensure that the environment is good for trade and business.”
The Customs and Trade Facilitation Workshop was sponsored by the European Union and is one in a series that is being conducted.