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OECS Member States To Discuss World Trade Policy

by Amanda Banks, Tax-News.com, London

22 December 2006


Member countries of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States on the World Trade Organisation are likely to meet in January 2007 to consider the draft report of an OECS Trade Policy Review, as well as a coordinated approach regarding a World Trade Organisation (WTO) Trade Policy Review (TPR) meeting scheduled for November 2007 in Geneva.

The January meeting is among the next steps identified at a recent seminar on the OECS WTO Trade Policy Review mechanism, which was held between December 6-7 in St. Lucia. The OECS seminar is to ensure that all the relevant government officials and private sector representatives are present to start the process of preparing for the WTO TPR meeting in 2007.

Also early in the New Year, the OECS Secretariat, OECS Countries and other key players in Trade Policy issues will consider ways of furthering the campaign for OECS issues to be continuously recognized in all Trade Rules negotiations.

One of the successes of the just ended OECS WTO Trade Policy Review mechanism seminar is the 100 percent participation of all the focal points for the OECS Trade Policy Review. These included key government officials in finance and members of the Private Sector. They discussed various issues with the Trade Policy review staff of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) as well as the Agency for International Trade Information and Cooperation (AITIC). With regards to the latter a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between the OECS and AITIC to formalize several years of fruitful collaboration.

Charge D’Affairs of the OECS Mission in Geneva, Elliot Paige says the OECS has learnt significantly from the process.

“We leant so much about our own economies including our own Trade Policies, were they supported and conflicted as well as the level of compliance with the WTO. This has helped in planning other policies. It also helped the private sector in making decisions," he explained.

The Trade Policy review is also a Transparency requirement in the WTO. Therefore OECS countries can lean about the economies of others, as well as provide info to help inform how they are taking advantage of the multilateral trading system.

A TPR is an obligation for OECS member Countries on the WTO. Hence OECS Member countries must execute a Trade Policy Review every six years. The OECS Trade Policy Review, which engages six of the 9 member countries, first convened in 2001, when Ministers presented reports of the trade policies of the different island states as well as a collective report on the OECS as an integrated region. The OECS is among the three regions that present their Trade Policy Review as a group rather than as individual countries. The others are the East African Community and the Southern African Customs Union.

The monitoring of national trade policies is a fundamentally important activity running throughout the work of the WTO. At the centre of this work is the Trade Policy Review Mechanism (TPRM).

The OECS is a nine member grouping comprising Antigua and Barbuda, Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines. Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands are associate members of the OECS.


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