The Trade Directorate is responsible for identifying opportunities, negotiating trade agreements, developing policies, and growing and developing non-energy trade, particularly export-led trade in Trinidad and Tobago. The key functions of the Trade Directorate include the following:
- Negotiate Trade Agreements (bilateral, regional, multilateral)
- Formulate and implement national trade policy
- Implement Trade Agreements
- Develop national export strategy
- Advocate Trinidad and Tobago’s positions at the regional and multilateral fora
- Assist in the development of regional/hemispheric trade and trade related policies
- Address removal of hindrances to trade (e.g. non-tariff measures)
- Manage suspension of the common external tariff (CET)
- Conduct stakeholder consultations to inform policy development
- Provide financial support to regional and international organizations (UNCTAD, WTO, CARICOM Competition Commission, Caribbean Export Development Agency (CEDA etc.)
- Implement CARICOM Monitoring Mechanism for specific products (e.g. cement, red beans, rice etc.)
- Implement aspects of the CARICOM Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas (e.g. Free zones, CSME etc.)
Trade Directorate Units
The Goods Unit is responsible for activities to develop and grow trade in goods in Trinidad and Tobago. In this regard the Unit develops trade policy and negotiates market access (tariff liberalization), rules of origin and trade facilitation for Trinidad and Tobago’s merchandise exports. The key functions of the Goods Unit include:
- Negotiate trade in goods disciplines (Tariff Liberalization, Rules of Origin, Customs procedures, Trade Facilitation, SPS, TBT, NTMs, Safeguards) for trade agreements in all forums;
- Develop negotiating positions for trade in goods disciplines in all forums;
- Coordinate and develop positions in Trade Facilitation;
- Provide policy guidance, oversight and technical input for trade in goods issues;
- Provide assistance and advice to exporters to overcome obstacles to trade or Non-Tariff Barriers;
- Manage Sub-Committee on Market Access (Trade Facilitation);
- Manage Secretariat for National Committee on Trade Facilitation;
The Services Unit is responsible for trade negotiations and trade policy formulation in the area of services trade. The Unit is responsible for negotiating greater market access for Trinidad and Tobago’s service providers, achieved primarily through external trade negotiations which offer greater legal certainty in foreign markets. The Unit is also responsible for national and regional policy formulation in the area of trade in services. The key functions of the Unit are as follows:
- Negotiate trade in services disciplines (market access, liberalization schedules, temporary entry of business persons etc.) in all trade negotiating forums;
- Develop negotiating positions for trade in services disciplines and present at negotiating fora;
- Provide policy guidance, oversight and technical input toward strengthening national services trade regulatory framework;
- Provide input into development of regional trade policies/strategies related to services including the Regional Strategic Plan for Services;
- Participate in national, regional and international fora to advance national interest in services trade including the Regional Services Project Steering Committee (RSPSC);
- Provide general advice on trade in services issues and trade agreements; and
- Manage the Specialist Sub-Committee (SSC) on Trade in Services.
The CARICOM/ACS Unit is responsible for monitoring issues which promote regional integration and advancement. This unit serves as a focal point for CARICOM matters and responds to requests from stakeholders who may be interested in regional trading procedures and guidelines or who may wish to have a regional trading issue addressed at the Ministry level.
The key functions of the Unit are as follows:
- Formulate and advocate Trinidad and Tobago’s positions on strategic initiatives at the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) including obligations under the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas (RTC)
- Manage suspension of Common External Tariff (CET) on products
- Undertake preparatory activities for COTED and Implements decisions post COTED
- Coordinate and monitor the implementation of obligations under CARICOM monitoring mechanism
- Monitor, formulate and advocate Trinidad and Tobago’s interests at Association of Caribbean States (ACS) forum
- Conduct research and analysis on industry issues and make policy recommendations
- Implement Strategic initiative on strengthening of regulatory framework
- Conducts research and analysis to contribute to development of regional/hemispheric trade related policies, harmonized procedures, standards and legislation.
The TRI Unit has responsibility for coordinating trade relations with countries for which Trinidad and Tobago has no formal arrangements or existing bilateral trade agreement. The Unit also manages relations with the World Trade Organization (WTO) and coordinates negotiations of trade related issues. The key functions of the TRI Unit include the following:
- Develops negotiating positions and strategies for trade related issues such as (Intellectual Property Rights, Labour, Environment, Government Procurement, Competition Policy, Development Cooperation)
- Coordinates World Trade Organization obligations and negotiating positions and strategies
- Develops National Export Strategies
- Monitors utilization and make recommendations on bilateral trade agreements
- Develops positions to enhance trade relations with countries without negotiated trade agreements
- Chair’s the Ministry’s Sub-Committee on TRI Issues
The Trade Implementation Unit (TIU) manages and guides the implementation of existing and future trade and trade related agreements including the CARIFORUM – EU Economic Partnership Agreement, CARICOM Bilaterals and Trinidad and Tobago Partial Scope Agreements. The primary objective of the Unit is to ensure that the opportunities and benefits available under negotiated trade agreements are fully exploited by existing manufacturing, services exporters, entrepreneurs and the general public. The key functions of the TIU include the following:
- Implement national obligations for all trade agreements.
- Interface with the various actors in the public sector, quasi-public agencies, the business community and non- governmental organisations for the identification of developmental, technical assistance and other capacity building needs.
- Implement the National Aid for Trade Strategy
- Serve as a national contact/ focal point for regional cooperation projects arising from negotiated Trade Agreements.
- Represent national interest in various National, Regional and International Fora to advance the Implementation of all Trade Agreements
- Develop project proposals for development cooperation under Trade Agreements.
- Mobilize resources for projects; engage in dialogue with Donors and relevant Line Ministries.
- Monitor and evaluate projects/implementation plans to ensure objectives are met.
- Conduct awareness and sensitization workshops related to the implementation of specific obligations under the Trade Agreements. (Collaborate with exporTT).
The World Trade Organisation (WTO) of which Trinidad & Tobago is a member, acknowledges that governments, in pursuing trade liberalisation policies such as lowering tariffs and non –tariff barriers, may still find it necessary to provide protection in industries from incidents of unfair trade practices.
These unfair trade practices may take the form of under-pricing of goods, subsidisation, or sudden increases in volume of goods exported to the particular country.
To avoid such incidences, a number of safeguard measures have been introduced, including the strengthening of Anti-Dumping Legislation.
The Fair Trading Unit formally the Anti-Dumping Unit (ADU) was established in the Ministry of Trade and Industry on January 1st, 1996, to administer and enforce this legislation in particular:
- Act No. 11 of 1992 — the Anti-Dumping and Countervailing Duties Act
- Act No. 23 of 1995 — an Act to amend the Anti-Dumping and Countervailing Act of 1992
- Anti-Dumping and Countervailing Duties Regulations — 1996
- Anti-Dumping and Countervailing Duties (Subsidies) Regulations —1996