September 26, 2020

Opening remarks from CARICOM Rep – Customs Harmonisation Meetings in Antigua

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caricom_standardOpening Remarks at the commencement of the Eighth Joint Meeting of Customs Officials and Regional Chief Parliamentary Counsel on Harmonized Customs Regulations – 23 to 27 February 2015

Welcome
I am honoured to welcome on behalf of Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque and on my own behalf, participants from regional Customs Administrations and from the offices of Attorney’s General, to this critically important meeting to engage in discussion towards the completion of harmonized customs regulations. I also take this opportunity to welcome all to Antigua and Barbuda.

Appreciation for BizClim’s support for providing technical assistance
A special welcome is extended to the representatives of the ACP Business Climate Facility (BizClim) that has provided the resources that enabled the Caribbean Community Secretariat to secure the technical assistance that has made it possible to convene this meeting. Your presence here today is undoubtedly a clear signal of your commitment to a partnership with the Secretariat to contribute to the development of capacity within the Community’s customs administrations. We look forward to the strengthening of this partnership in other areas that will be of benefit to both the public and private sectors as we move deeper into the process of regional integration.

Preparatory work in developing the Harmonized Regulations
I also take this opportunity to acknowledge the highly professional approach by BKP Consulting in developing the first draft of Harmonised Customs Regulations which will be considered by this meeting. An important aspect of their preparation for undertaking the challenge of preparing draft regulations, was the conduct of visits to all Member States for consultations with key stakeholders including customs brokers. The Secretariat welcomed this thorough approach to seeking stakeholder feedback as such engagement will be critical to the achievement of wider acceptance of harmonised customs regulations and procedures across the Caribbean Community when concluded..

What we’re seeking to achieve at this Meeting
As the Community continues to construct the pillars of true economic integration, the application of harmonized customs legislation is a vital prerequisite for an eventual customs union. Therefore, in moving forward, the mandate that we must fulfill is clear. Art 95 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas obliges Member States to co-operate with each other to ensure that their interpretation and application of trade procedures are effectively and harmoniously applied. That Article calls for, among other things:

(i) the establishment of harmonized customs legislation and customs procedures; and

(ii) the establishment effective customs systems and procedures governing the movement of goods, people and conveyances across customs borders.

The legal instrument that we seek to develop at this meeting will contain the basis for all customs procedures which for the most part, will be applied uniformly throughout the CARICOM Single Market. The impact of such application will be of benefit to other aspects of the CSME such as the movement of persons, the movement of capital and right of establishment; all of which can stimulate production integration which continues to be a long-term objective of the regional integration process. Additionally, harmonized customs legislation will contribute to an environment of predictability for intra and extra-regional trade and hopefully help to enhance the competitiveness of regionally produced goods in third country markets.

As you conduct your deliberations today and the rest of the week, I anticipate that issues such as trends in trade; those related to national security; efficiency of revenue collection; international customs best practices and customs modernization standards will inform the conclusions you reach. The Community will be well served if at the end of this process the customs regulations and procedures that you recommend are regarded as another vital step towards CARICOM and its Member States being regarded as attractive to investment, both foreign and domestic as well as a region to do business.

It has taken us a long time to get to where we are now. Let us make every effort during this meeting and the next, scheduled to take place in the third week of March in Trinidad and Tobago, to advance to a position where we will be ready to make a submission to the Legal Affairs Committee, leading to final adoption by the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED)

Thank you for your attention and I wish you well in your deliberations.

END

For the week’s agenda go to: http://www.caricom-customs.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=96&Itemid=172&lang=en

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