The 41st Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) endorsed the recommendations from the Trade Officials meeting that came out of the regional workshop on the Preparation of Services and Investment Liberalisation Offers held in June 2015. The recommendations aimed at building capacity in Member States while aligning their National Service and Investment offers to their development interests.
The CARICOM Office of Trade Negotiation (OTN) has developed a project that will establish a database of CARICOM Member States’ existing measures which do not conform to specific obligations under international trade agreements. These include discriminatory measures in the domestic and international market, market access restrictions and performance requirements for businesses. The exercise will go even further to identify sectors and sub-sectors or activities for which CARICOM Member States wish to reserve the flexibility to adopt or maintain non-conforming measures.
It is important for Member States to catalogue, on a continuing basis, their regulatory status quo to better position Member States to determine the level of openness it can commit to its trading partners in services and investment sectors.
This project will be done in three phases:
- The development of a draft inventory of existing measures that no do conform to specific international obligations;
- A series of national consultations with the regulatory agencies and private sector to verify the draft inventory with a view to document the policy objectives of the measures and identify sectors or sub-sectors it wishes to reserve the flexibility to adopt or maintain measures that do not conform to international obligations;
- The Office of Trade Negotiations (OTN) for CARICOM will compile a database of Member States existing these non-conforming measures and areas reserved for future policy flexibility. This will be updated based on notifications from Member States of new measures. This database will inform the construction of an initial CARICOM Services and Investment offer in future regional trade negotiations.
In order for this project to be successful, the National Service Sector Review Committee was established in June 2017 in Belize. The departments and ministries that formed this committee are the Directorate General for Foreign Trade (DGFT), the Investment Unit in the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Commerce, the Ministry of Economic Development, BELTRAIDE and the Solicitor General’s Office. The committee is scheduled to meet every third Tuesday of the month until the project is completed. The timeframe for the first two phases of this project is fifteen months. The DGFT will be the lead on this committee and coordinate the private consultations to verify the measures in place and their policy objectives. The committee held its first meeting on the 26th and 27th June, 2017 to abreast the members of the objective of the project and measures it must look for when reviewing the laws.