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Trade in goods consultation series helps states with EPA implementation

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Contact: Caricom Secretariat


Friday 3 June 2011 A just-concluded series of in-country consultations on the Trade in Goods regime under the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), mounted under the aegis of the EPA Implementation Unit of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat, has received wide acclaim.


The consultations, geared at engaging Comptrollers of Customs and Customs Administration Officials in the CARICOM States that are party to the CARIFORUM-EU EPA, have been hailed by those involved as "giving a fillip to the efforts of relevant CARICOM States to forge ahead with EPA implementation."


The series unfolded over a period of several months and was spearheaded by the Adviser to the Secretary-General on the Implementation of the EPA and Trade in Goods Specialist in the EPA Implementation Unit of the CARICOM Secretariat, Mr Branford Isaacs.


 The series was capped off, earlier in the week, by a one-day visit by Mr Isaacs to Saint Lucia, where he met with Customs authorities.


Amongst the matters forming the kernel of the consultation series were the identification of the Customs Offices authorized for certification/verification, the arrangements for phased reduction of customs duties, and the treatment of other border taxes - all with respect to trade under the EPA.


 As CARIFORUM readies itself for the upcoming, inaugural meeting of the Trade and Development Committee under the CARIFORUM-EU EPA, which is scheduled for 9 and 10 June in Barbados, Mr Isaacs said of the consultation series, "it has been invaluable in helping prepare regional States for this landmark meeting. The exchanges have enabled a stocktaking of the state-of-play with regard to EPA implementation and a signal of the technical support and guidance which the EPA Implementation Unit would be required to provide."


Coming on the heels of these consultations with Customs Administrations, sensitization-oriented seminars will be mounted by Mr Isaacs for Customs Officials across the Region in respect of Rules of Origin under the Agreement. Stakeholders from the regional mercantile community - inclusive

of importers, exporters and customs brokers - are to participate in this effort. This type of engagement has already taken place, with respect to a handful of States, at their request. There is a recognition though, that seminars of this nature are needed across the board.


The EPA Implementation Unit has accorded a high priority to engagements of this nature, which are in keeping with its expressed commitment to provide assistance to CARIFORUM States in their efforts at implementation of the CARIFORUM-EU EPA.


The fifteen signatory Caribbean Forum of African, Caribbean and Pacific (CARIFORUM) States to the EPA are the independent CARICOM Member States and the Dominican Republic.

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