Regional Task Force advances the process towards Free Circulation of Goods in the OECS

Tuesday, May 24, 2016 — Trade officials and border control agencies from the OECS are in Antigua and Barbuda this week for talks on practical approaches to support the free circulation of good within the OECS. This is the purpose of the 7th meeting of the regional task force on free circulation of goods which opened on Tuesday May 24th 2016. 

Chairman Ambassador Ellsworth John says the regional task force hopes to have administrative procedures, laws and regulations agreed for free circulation of goods by January 2017:

“Having the free circulation of goods regime for the OECS will go a long way towards ensuring that we have fair trade in the OECS; that we are able to compete with the other countries in the region first of all, and this world and that we are able to level the playing field for us as very small states in being able to be competitive. We have a lot of work to do. We have a lot of areas that we need to understand clearly. We have a legislative process to put in place that is acceptable to all of our Member States.”

Director General of the OECS Dr Didacus Jules says businesses within the region are anxiously awaiting the day when the dream of free circulation of goods becomes a reality:

“...with the free circulation of goods for us to achieve this there are a lot of things as you well know that have to be put in place. The single point of registration. Somebody registers a company in Antigua and Barbuda, that company should have an immediate presence everywhere else in the OECS. It should have the right of establishment, the ability to do business everywhere across the OECS…. At this point it is for us to press our feet harder on the pedal, accelerate this vehicle so that we can accomplish the goals in a shorter period. I want to give special thanks and recognition to Ambassador John’s Chairman of this task force and to you the Members of the Task Force for the very acidulous work and the diligence that you exercised to date.”

Representing the Government of Antigua and Barbuda, Senator Colin James encouraged the participants to carefully examine the current situation across the Member States, and review the policy positions with a view to moving the process forward in a calculated way designed to operationalise the various facets of the free circulation of goods regime in the shortest possible time frame.  James pledged his government’s continuous commitment towards advancing the OECS Economic Union.

Compete Caribbean has been providing technical and financial resources to facilitate meetings and other activities regarding the proposed Free Circulation of Goods regime:  Tara-Lisa Persaud is the Business Climate Reform coordinator  for Compete Caribbean “ This project  is integral to the development of the region and the donors behind the programme  are the UK Government the  Canadian Government and the Caribbean Development Bank as well as the IDB.”

The 7th meeting of the Regional Task Force on Free Circulation of Goods is taking place at the Halcyon Cove by Rex Resorts on Antigua and Barbuda North Coast.

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