The second Trade Policy Review of the Organisation of Eastern
Caribbean States (OECS) WTO Members has allowed this Body to appraise
in detail the evolution of their trade policies since 2001. I thank
Minister Mayers, Minister Cort, Minister Straker, Ambassador Antoine,
Mr. James and Mr. Berridge, as well as the other members of their
delegations. I would also like to thank the discussant, Mr. Cliche,
and Members who engaged in the discussion as part of this exercise.
Members noted that the six OECS-WTO Members reviewed faced economic
challenges, many of which stemmed from their small size. This review
has also shown how OECS countries have coordinated and pooled their
resources, seeking to overcome their individual constraints. Their
greater involvement in regional integration schemes was seen by some
Members as the best and perhaps the only means to overcome human
resource limitations. In this regard, the establishment of a joint
OECS technical mission in Geneva was seen as important, as were
ongoing efforts to set up an OECS Economic Union.
This Body warmly welcomed the OECS-WTO Members commitment to a
rules-based multilateral trading system, and to the process of trade
liberalization as a tool of development. The OECS-WTO Members outlined
the difficulties they faced in taking full advantage of global trade
due to their smallness and vulnerability to external shocks.
Overcoming such difficulties would offer the opportunity to develop
more diversified and robust economies. The Aid for Trade initiative
could also play a central role in this respect, although there was no
prioritization as yet.
Members noted that taxes on imports make key fiscal contributions in
all the OECS countries reviewed. However, some Members questioned the
OECS application of ad valorem customs service charges; although the
OECS countries considered the charges necessary, they were in the
process of reassessing these and other taxes. The OECS-WTO Members
were also invited to consolidate their fiscal reform processes,
including through the streamlining of their numerous incentives
OECS countries noted their progress towards meeting WTO obligations
but recognized that some weaknesses persist. Participants appreciated
the OECS-WTO Members' modernization and liberalization of their trade
regimes. However, OECS countries were urged to give priority attention
to making the policy and legal changes necessary to implement their
WTO obligations. Areas where improvements were deemed necessary
included WTO notifications, applied versus bound tariffs, customs
valuation, non-automatic licensing, sanitary and phytosanitary
measures, and protection of intellectual property. In response, OECS-WTO
Members expressed their intention to improve their levels of
compliance but stressed the importance of having the time and
assistance necessary to achieve this.
Members observed that economic restructuring in the OECS-WTO Members
has been accompanied by the expansion of the services sector. Members
commended the five OECS signatories to the ECTEL Treaty for their
efforts to liberalize their telecommunications sector. Considering the
importance of services for their economies, and the actual generally
liberal nature of their service regimes, the OECS-WTO Members were
invited to make deeper and wider commitments under the GATS. The
countries reviewed provided replies to service-related questions
concerning activities such as tourism and telecommunications.
In conclusion, Members acknowledged the progress made by the OECS
countries reviewed in restructuring their economies, while recognizing
the challenges they still face. Members offered strong encouragement
to the six countries to pursue further reforms. They also urged them
to enhance the transparency and predictability of their trade regimes
by expanding the scope and improving the implementation of their WTO
commitments. This would help the OECS-WTO Members to attract the
foreign direct investment they need to strengthen their economies.
Trading partners can support these efforts by providing appropriate
technical assistance to support a greater OECS participation in the
multilateral trading system. OECS-WTO Members could consequently take
greater advantage of trading opportunities to foster growth and
8. I would like to close this review by thanking once again the
delegations of the OECS-WTO Members, the Discussant, and the Members
that took part in this meeting for contributing to an informative
review. I would also like to express my appreciation to the
delegations of the OECS-WTO Members for the responses provided during
the meeting. We look forward to receiving the outstanding responses
within the next month.
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