CASTRIES, St Lucia -- IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, in partnership with the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) and the Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Development, kicked off workshops in Castries and St George’s on Monday to improve trade logistics and facilitate economic integration in the Eastern Caribbean.
The four-day workshops were hosted by the Bureaus of Standards of both St Lucia and Grenada, which help ensure that goods entering or leaving the countries comply with quality assurance and certification standards.
The workshops are part of an initiative to fully automate the import and export approval processes of 14 agencies including the Bureaus of Standards, plant quarantine, and environmental and veterinary health in Antigua, Dominica, Grenada, and St Lucia.
Currently, importing and exporting goods in the Eastern Caribbean requires filling out documentation and navigating lengthy administrative requirements. On average, more than one in four firms identifies customs and trade regulations as a major constraint to doing business, according to the World Bank Enterprise Surveys (www.enterprisesurveys.org).
Agencies that regulate goods moving across borders in the Caribbean are increasingly coordinating their operations in an effort to reduce bottlenecks and excessive delays that limit trade flows.
The workshops in St Lucia and Grenada aim to train government officials from institutions involved in clearing imports and exports on how to harmonize their systems for classifying goods and analyze trade data to more efficiently target physical inspections of goods.
For example, by using the same identification codes, institutions in different countries can share and process import and export information more easily. Developing risk profiles to identify import and export operations with lower levels of risk can help expedite approvals for trade.
“IFC is an important partner in our efforts to modernize and automate our processes so that we offer a better service to the private sector in St Lucia,” said Dr Mkabi Walcott, director of the St Lucia Bureau of Standards.
“The training session is a stepping stone that will help us communicate better with customs officials, other government institutions in Grenada and Bureaus of Standards across the Caribbean,” said Mr Collins, director of the Grenada Bureau of Standards.
“IFC is committed to making trade easier in the Caribbean,” said Pedro Andres Amo, IFC operations officer. “With this initiative we seek to help government agencies connect more efficiently, thus making import clearance easier and reducing logistics costs that are still a challenge for many businesses in the region. This will also facilitate increased sharing of trade information at the regional level to facilitate the free movement of goods within the single market.”
This workshop is the third in a series of regional trainings hosted by IFC to support the simplification and harmonization of trade procedures that help promote regional economic integration.