TRADE FACILITATION ENQUIRY POINT
ESTABLISHMENT OF A TRADE FACILITATION ENQUIRY POINT FOR TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO PROJECT
EPA & CSME Standby Facility for Capacity Building
A EUR108,392 Project to increase the local trading environment and improve the ease of doing business in Trinidad and Tobago.
The Ministry of Trade and Industry, with funding from the European Union, is implementing the Establishment of a Trade Facilitation Enquiry Point for Trinidad and Tobago (TFEP) Project. The activity, which is being supervised by the Caribbean Development Bank’s EPA & CSME Standby Facility, will create an online trade information portal and complementary governance arrangements across ministries and agencies involved in trade facilitation. A trade facilitation enquiry point is an identified point of contact for queries from the World Trade Organisation (WTO) or members of the public. In this instance, the Enquiry point will be facilitated as part of the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago’s Trade Information Portal.
The TFEP will provide information on technical requirements, procedures for importation and exportation, applicable duties and fees, and relevant forms to be completed. This is particularly beneficial to stakeholders as the easy access to trade information from a central location will reduce the incidences of conflicts and potential penalties for non-compliance in the trading environment.
The objectives of the Project are to enhance transparency and predictability in Trinidad and Tobago’s trading environment through the constant flows of information among governments, traders, and other interested parties and to provide easily accessible, precise and complete information in a convenient, timely and cost effective way. This will ultimately result in the enhanced capacity for seamless enquiries on Trinidad and Tobago’s trading system.
Trinidad and Tobago is party to several agreements aimed at improving trade facilitation in the import and export of goods and services. These agreements also seek to simplify and harmonise local and international practices with respect to data collection, presentation, communication, and processing related to trade. The ultimate objective is to reduce the costs and delays associated with such procedures to improve the ease of doing business and further result in more competitive exports. The overall scope of the commitments is set out in the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) which was ratified by Trinidad and Tobago on July 27, 2015.
Under the TFA, the country has committed to several facilitation measures, including pre-shipment inspection, temporary admission of goods for inward and outward processing, electronic payment for customs clearance and acceptance of copies for customs procedure.
The TFEP will be established in the Ministry of Trade and Industry and will cover all areas relating to Trade Facilitation and establish linkages with the Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures and Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) enquiry points where necessary.
The TFEP Project will provide a wide range of enhancements including:
- Improved ease of doing business regionally and internationally;
- Opportunities for further integration with other CARICOM Member States;
- Significant reduction or elimination in the cost and time delays associated with gathering information and approaching multiple organisations;
- Facilitating the establishment of a Regional Enquiry Point under the Trade Facilitation Agreement;
- Creating more knowledgeable exporters through training and providing greater opportunities to integrate into the international trading system;
- Increasing revenue, improving the economy and improving the standard of living;
- Enhancing efficiency and effectiveness of the enquiry point through the use of trade information portal which will identify all trade facilitation stakeholders;
- Allowing responses to beneficiaries dealing with the environmental trade issues thereby avoiding harm to the environment;
- Providing a clearing house for information relating to trade and business facilitation from all the various agencies easily accessible to governments, traders, and other interested parties;
- Promoting sustainability, awareness and visibility of the availability of a TFEP.
Successful project implementation requires sustained engagement of project stakeholders. This includes:
- Ministry of Trade and Industry
- Ministry of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs
- Ministry of Health
- Ministry of Planning and Development
- Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries
- Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs
- National Trade Facilitation Committee
- Customs and Excise Division
- Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce
- Trinidad and Tobago Bureau of Standards
- Regional Business Chambers
- Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers’ Association
- Other state agencies
- Business community
- CARIFORUM manufacturers/exporters
EPA and CSME Standby Facility
The project was approved for implementation by the EPA and CSME Standby Facility Steering Committee in 2021. The EPA and CSME Standby Facility (also known as the CARIFORUM-European Union (EU) Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) Standby Facility for Capacity Building) is a EUR 8.75 million programme financed by the European Union being managed by CDB to support projects in Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, the Commonwealth of Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Kitts and Nevis, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago (CARIFORUM). It is intended to build capacity in the region and better position businesses to trade within CARIFORUM and the European Union.