National Trade Facilitation Virtual Workshop September 21st – 22nd, 2021

September 23, 2021 in Community Pulse

The Ministry of International Trade, Industry, Commerce and Consumer Affairs, incollaboration with the World Trade Organization (WTO), the CARICOM Secretariat and theUnited Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), has conducted a NationalWorkshop on the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade Facilitation (TFA)and implementation matters. This workshop was held virtually via Zoom on September 21st -22nd, 2021.The objective of the two-day workshop was to promote capacity building among the pertinentstakeholders while building awareness in efforts to advance the WTO Trade FacilitationImplementation Agenda. The workshop also sought to increase participants’ understanding oftheir obligations under the TFA while highlighting its relevance to the economic growth anddevelopment within the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis.Mrs. Jasemin Weekes, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of International Trade, Industry,Commerce and Consumer Affairs, at the opening of the virtual workshop, in a brief remark,stated that the workshop was intended to bring further awareness of St. Kitts and Nevis’obligations under the WTO TFA, with a view to addressing capacity building issues in theimplementation of same. In addition, it provides opportunities for discussion on strengtheningour nation’s competitiveness, increasing exports, and growing the economy.Mrs. Weekes added that the exercise was timely, as the gobal Covid-19 pandemic had addedchallenges to the business of import and export.Trade facilitation is a key component of trade policy and involves collaboration with a number ofpartners. Representation of the stakeholders present reflected the understanding of the roles thateach played in facilitating the implementation of the Agreement. While the implementation ofthe Agreement is the primary responsibility of the WTO Members, businesses play a critical rolein the consultative process concerning how the agreement is best applied in the nationalenvironment. The completion of negotiations on the Trade Facilitation Agreement, whichentered into force on 22 February 2017, following its ratification of two-thirds of the WTOmembership, has been therefore seen as a watershed moment. As for many it meant thesimplification, modernization and harmonization of export and import processes. In essence, ithas the promise of ensuring that global trade, grows faster, is cheaper, and is more predictable.Mrs. Weekes further emphasized the benefits derived from the implementation of the TradeFacilitation Agreement by stating that reforms are important. These reforms will allow us toimprove the efficiency of our systems and bring numerous spill-over benefits which include

 Boosting our export competitiveness Helping to sustain our economic growth Improving our attraction to foreign investors, to name a few.It is important to note that the Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSME’s) would bethe beneficiaries of trade facilitation reforms.The presenters over the two days included experts who provided support to the NationalFacilitation Committee with respect to sharpening the understandings and skills necessary toeffectively implement reforms under the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA); anddiscussed implementation challenges; and also provided guidance on sustaining the work of theNational Trade Facilitation Committee (NTFC).The presenters included Helen Chang, WTO Trade Facilitation Committee; Michele Lowe-CARICOM Secretariat Office of Trade Negotiations; Peter Terence Leonard, ASYCUDARegional Project Manager for UNCTAD; Alexandre Larouche-Maltais, UNCTAD EconomicAffairs Officer; and Poul Hansen, UNCTAD Chief of Trade Facilitation.Attendees from the Public Sector included the Customs and Excise Department; Ministry ofAgriculture, Fisheries and Marine Resources; St. Chistopher Air and Sea Ports Authority(SCASPA), Department of Information Technology, Ministry of Health; Ministry of SustainableDevelopment; Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs, Ministry of International Trade, Industry,Commerce, Consumer Affairs and the St. Kitts and Nevis Bureau of Standards; Trade andConsumer Affairs Department – Nevis. The workshop was also well attended by participants from the Private Sector such as the St. Kittsand Nevis Chamber of Industry and Commerce (SKNCIC); Tropical Shipping; King OceanServices; S. L. Horsfords & Co. Ltd.; SwiftPac St. Kitts and Nevis; S-Krave Shop & Ship;Hobson Enterprises Ltd.; Global Shipping St. Kitts, FedEx