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Commonwealth expert helps enhance trade capacity in the Caribbean

Commonwealth expert helps enhance trade capacity in the Caribbean

Commonwealth in Action: Hub and Spokes II - Supporting the Caribbean Community with trade capacity development.

The Hub and Spokes II Programme provides trade experts to national ministries and regional trade organisations to enhance trade capacity in the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group of states. It is a joint programme of the European Union (main donor), ACP Group Secretariat, the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie.

Sunday Oghayei, a regional trade adviser, has been supporting the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in Guyana on trade development since July 2015.

Read his blog below:

As part of my work with CARICOM, I support Caribbean countries in enhancing their trade capacity. Recently, some of my work has focused on trade capacity development in Haiti.

Haiti is a low-income country in the Caribbean region; its average per capita income is less than $1,025 a year. Poverty levels are estimated at over 50 per cent of the population, measured against the $1.90 per day and national poverty lines (World Development Indicators, 2012).

Engaging the Haiti private sector

Under the Hub & Spokes II Programme’s banner of ‘enhancing trade capacity development’, engaging the private sector is essential to enhance their understanding of opportunities available to them through multilateral trade policy.

We recently held a training session for Haiti private sector representatives on 26 July 2016 that focused on CARICOM rules with regards to tariffs, standards and quality, rules of origin, certification and other topics. Other experts included representatives from the Caribbean Agricultural Health and Food Safety Agency and the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality. Of the 21 participants, seven were women from the private sector as well as some trade officials.

With the CARICOM Secretariat, we reviewed the state of play in Haiti in relation to trade policy development and what is required of Haiti to become an active participant in the regional trade in goods regime, as well as how the CARICOM trade regime can support the private sector. Given Haiti’s share of regional trade is currently low, we placed emphasis on opportunities for Haiti agricultural trade and provided guidelines to the private sector on the application of regional standards and quality.

Improvements in standards will help increase intra-regional trade, which is a prerequisite to becoming competitive in third country export markets. The training was presented on how the CARICOM trade regime would be a benefit, making it more attractive to encourage private sector compliance and also increasing the attractiveness of their exports. In particular, discussions on rules of origin were important in creating opportunities in the production of goods that qualify for preferential treatment in the CARICOM region.

Increased intra-regional trade in Haiti can help to boost production capability and domestic economic growth, as well as employment and customs revenue.

Enhancing Haiti’s regional integration

As part of the CARICOM region, Haiti has an obligation to apply the region’s Common External Tariff (CET). The Government of Haiti has approved the implementation of the tariff, though harmonisation is still required with regards to import duty rates not yet in effect. It was noted that given a lack of domestic technical capacity, CARICOM would provide technical assistance to assist Haiti in harmonising its national tariff with the CARICOM CET.

Between 25 and 27 July 2016, consultations and finalisation of Haiti’s National Tariff were conducted at the office of the Haitian Customs Authority. Consultations were held with the Haitian Customs Authority and Officials of the Ministry of Finance, Trade, and Central Bank.

Involvement of the Customs Authority and Ministry of Finance was particularly important, given their respective responsibilities for ensuring the correct tariff rates are sanctioned by local legislation, and that these rates are applied on imports.

Of the 16 stakeholders taking part in the technical review, two government representatives were women.

As part of the CARICOM team, we provided the technical know-how on restructuring of the national customs tariff. The Ministry of Finance and Trade also developed a deeper understanding of the policy intention of the CARICOM CET rate structure and its impact on revenue collection.

As a result of the exercise, Haiti’s national tariff rates compliance increased from 50 per cent in 2013 to 95 per cent meeting CARICOM’s requirements. The remaining 5 per cent comprising about 250 tariff lines can be treated as exemptions under the CET.

For more information on the Hub and Spokes II programme, please email the team