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Greater opportunities in CARICOM for Belizean producers


 

Representatives of the Belize Trade and Investment Development Service, (BELTRAIDE) and the Directorate General for Foreign Trade this  morning went on national radio and television to launch a public awareness campaign to inform Belizean producers, potential exporters and exporters of the numerous opportunities available in the CARICOM market.

Ms Shauna Arnold, Export Promotion Officer at EXPORTBelize, a Unit of BELTRAIDE and Mr John Rivero, Trade Intelligence Economist at the Directorate General for Foreign Trade at the Ministry of Economic Development, Petroleum, Investment, Trade & Commerce, appeared on Open Your Eyes and LOVE FM’s Morning shows, and spoke on the suspension request of the Common External Tariff (CET) under CARICOM.

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The CET is a harmonized coding system for the importation of goods outside of the CARICOM region. The request for suspension on the CET is made when a CARICOM member state cannot acquire a desired good from one of the CARICOM countries consequently seeking suspension or reduction of the tariff by the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED).  Since there is a section under the CARICOM agreement that provides for the free movement of goods in which all imports from CARICOM Member States that meet CARICOM rules of origin enter duty free, the products outlined in CET suspension requests provides an indication of other products that Belizean producers can supply to the CARICOM region.

During the shows, both officers spoke at length on the trends for the demand of various goods in CARICOM. These include items such as coconut oil, soybean oil, soybean meal, palm oil, raw cane sugar, white refined sugar etc.

They also spoke on the assistance being provided to current and potential Belizean exporters by the Government, through BELTRAIDE, as well as the various fiscal development incentives available to Belizean businesses.

For further information on the CET suspension request please visit the BELTRAIDE website: www.belizeinvest.org.bz/exportbelize  (click on CARICOM EXPORT OPPORTUNITIES).

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Calling all Caribbean Entrepreneurs!


Calling all Caribbean Entrepreneurs and their enablers!
 
The Secretary of State’s Office of Global Partnerships has partnered with Venture Hive to create a seven-week program focusing on providing support, engaging diaspora mentors and experts. And we need your nominations to help us track down the best and the brightest.
 
The program will focus on creating a solid foundation to scale, preparing for scaling through expansion or export, development of financing materials and preliminary due diligence documents, and utilizing international relationships and partnership for growth.

Continue reading “Calling all Caribbean Entrepreneurs!”

BELTRAIDE ORGANIZES FIRST TRADE CLINIC FOR BUSINESSPERSONS IN ORANGE WALK


Over 50 producers from Orange Walk Town and surrounding villages met at La Inmaculada Credit Union Conference room on Friday, 4th March to obtain crucial information that will assist them to improve their services and raise the bar to compete globally.

The meeting was in the form of a Trade Clinic, which was the first of its kind organized by EXPORTBelize, a unit of BELTRAIDE, with the aim to sensitize the private sector on regulations, requirements, export procedures and documentations   and opportunities that exist under trade agreements in order to do business in the local and international market.

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The Trade Clinic included presentations from the Belize Bureau of Standards (BBS), the Belize Agriculture Health Authority (BAHA), the Customs & Excise Department and the Directorate General of Foreign Trade. Topics included: Standards (labeling, CODEX, metrology, etc), Export Procedures, Trade Agreement Opportunities and Sanitary & Phyto-Sanitary Measures among many others.

EXPORTBelize provides customized needs based services in the areas of export development and promotion. The Unit’s role is to encourage competitiveness of local businesses and to promote their products and services regionally and internationally by:

  • Supporting exporters with development promotion that will facilitate maximizing market opportunities in unison with trade agreements;
  • Collaborating with exporters in the promotion of  their products and services locally, regionally and internationally;
  • Offering specialized business development services and mentoring;
  • Providing exporters with access to finance and research on product/services that can be capitalized.

A second Trade Clinic is planned for producers in the southern part of the country very soon.

THE IMPORTANCE OF COMPETITION DURING ECONOMIC RECESSION


During 2015, the effects of the 2008 financial crisis continued to impact negatively on the economic and social welfare of the CARICOM Member States and their citizens.
Unfortunately, another difficult year is ahead of us with many economic challenges anticipated both within the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) and extra-regionally. The global economy is projected to show modest growth when compared to 2015. However, at the regional level the situation remains uncertain with potential downside risks including falling global oil and commodity prices and bouts of financial volatility, which could result in lower than expected economic growth for Member States.
The CARICOM Competition Commission (CCC) is acutely aware that as economic improvement is slow in coming, and as domestic demand within the Member States remains weak, anti-competitive conduct such as collusive agreements and abuse of dominance are likely to abound in 2016. Additionally, unfair trade practices of large companies against small and medium-sized businesses may also harm the economies in the CSME, and ultimately reduce consumer welfare.

The CCC is also mindful that in difficult economic times, Governments sometimes believe that they are protecting consumers by restricting competition in key sectors such as utilities, health, public procurement and energy. This is done by preventing the entry of new players into markets through licensing and regulatory restrictions; regulating prices through price or margin controls; and limiting certain contracts only to local firms e.g. office furniture, and stationery and office supplies, drugs, and road works.
The CCC therefore views 2016 as a pivotal year in the enforcement of competition law, as well as advocacy for consumer protection in the region. This is with the unrelenting view that competition and consumer protection initiatives can help ease the difficulties faced by consumers as a result of anti-competitive conduct and austere Government policies implemented during periods of recession.

For 2016, drawing upon the work program which has already been approved by Member States, the CCC will continue to vigorously protect and maximise consumer welfare in the CARICOM region. Accordingly, the CCC intends to make consumers the focus of its message to Governments and parliamentarians, sector regulators, the business community, and other special interest groups such as the judiciary, media, and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs).
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In this regard, the CCC will continue to work closely with National Consumer Protection Agencies and Consumer NGOs in CARICOM Member States on initiatives which commenced in 2015 such as:
• The establishment of national and regional consumer complaints databases and their effective uses for consumer protection enforcement;
• Research into priority areas for consumers such as financial services and utility regulation; and
• Consumer education.
With respect to competition policy, the CCC will establish the CARICOM Competition Network (CCN) in collaboration with the CARICOM Secretariat CSME Unit, and national competition authorities (NCAs) in the CSME, in 2016. The CCN will seek to encourage closer collaboration between NCAs on matters such as:
• Harmonization of investigation procedures;
• Administrative and legislative barriers to efficiency in competition investigations;
• Information exchange;
• Development of CSME Product Market Indicators; and
• Competition Training and Education programme.

In conclusion, as the designated regional advocate for competition and consumer protection, the CCC takes this opportunity to encourage Governments and sector regulators to view this period of financial constraints as an opportunity to implement or enforce policies that maximise competition among existing operators; facilitate entry and investment of new entrants into markets; and modernise the legislative and regulatory framework for competition and consumer protection. For its part, the CCC will continue to promote and lay the groundwork for the principles of competition law and policy and the effectiveness of consumer protection enforcement in the region.

Further information about the work of the CCC, can be accessed by contacting admin@ccc.sr with your questions or by utilising the query facility on http://www.caricomcompetitioncommission.com

New Capacity-Building Project to provide support for CARIFORUM-EU EPA


 (CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana)     Key partners involved in a new Capacity-building Project to support effective implementation of the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) met in Georgetown, Guyana on 19 January 2015, to chart the way forward.

The Project, valued at €3,099,915, is financed from the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) Caribbean Regional Indicative Programme (CRIP).  In part,  the project will provide support to CARIFORUM States to implement commitments undertaken with respect to the CARIFORUM-EU EPA, and will help build capacity in all states. The areas identified for capacity building  at the basic, intermediate and tertiary levels are Competition, Public Procurement and Customs and Trade Facilitation.  The project’s  overall objective is to support the beneficial integration of the CARIFORUM States into the world economy.

The meeting of key partners on 19 January brought together representatives of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat and Equinoccio Compañía de Comercio Exterior, S.L., the Contractor. The forum presented an opportunity for the  exchange of views on key elements such as  administrative requirements, governance matters, and the work plan, including priorities to shape stakeholder engagement in the short term.

Representatives affirmed that the Project methodology should strive to embed learning outcomes and materials, on a sustainable basis, among academic and other participating institutions in the Region.

Project Manager, Mr. Eugene Petty who is also the Director of Development Cooperation in the CARICOM Secretariat-based CARIFORUM Directorate, called attention to “institutional capacity constraints across the Region which continue to hamper progress in the implementation of obligations under the CARIFORUM-EU EPA.” He informed resources have been set aside to address such constraints and build institutional capacity in the three thematic areas covered by the Project.

The head of Equinoccio’s delegation at the Meeting, Mr. Angel Diez Rubio, in noting the significance of the Project, highlighted the strong commitment of his team to partner with the CARICOM Secretariat for the successful implementation of the capacity-building initiative.

The Director-General of the CARIFORUM Directorate, Mr. Percival Marie, who has overall responsibility for the management of the Project expressed confidence that, given its credentials, Equinoccio and the consortium that the firm represents as the contractor, are well-suited to implement the terms of the consultancy. Mr. Marie also expressed the view that “in light of the project’s provision of significant, targeted capacity-building to a cross section of CARIFORUM stakeholders, it will redound to the benefit of the Region’s development.”

Signed on 13 December 2014, the project has a duration of approximately twenty-seven calendar months and  is being implemented through a service contract, by CARIFORUM, as the Contracting Authority, along with Equinoccio, Compañía de Comercio Exterior, S.L., the Contractor. In the implementation of the project, Equinoccio leads a consortium that comprises: The London School of Economics (LSE) Enterprise, Ltd.; the Maastricht School of Management (MSM); and SGS Netherlands B.V.

Background

SERVICE CONTRACT TITLE: Capacity Building Within the Caribbean Forum of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (CARIFORUM) in the Areas of Competition, Public Procurement, and Customs and Trade Facilitation in support of the Implementation of the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).

The Project is geared towards conducting capacity-building training of CARIFORUM stakeholders in the public and private sectors, as well as in agencies with responsibility for the different disciplines within the Region. This training will enhance the human, legal and institutional capacity to enable CARIFORUM States to honour their commitments and attain the objectives of the EPA.

The beneficiary countries are: Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.

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

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