SKNVibes (St Kitts and Nevis) | 18 May 2009
Federation one step closer to benefiting trade agreement with Brazil
SKN receives approval from COTED for preferential access to Guyana-Brazil trade agreement
Manufacturing sector to benefit greatly
By VonDez Phipps
BASSETERRE, St. Kitts - COMING out of last week’s 27th Meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED), the Federation has received approval from the regional body to enter trade negotiations with Brazil which, once successful, will enable the local manufacturing sector to expand its productive capacity and spur economic development.
The meeting of Regional Trade Ministers convened in Guyana on May 14-15 and also saw discussions on the work programme of the Caribbean Competition Commission (CCC), the preparation by Haiti to implement the Common External Tariff (CET) and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Review of the CARIFORUM/European Union Economic Partnership Agreement.
The Federation’s contingent, led by Minister of International Trade, Industry, Commerce and Consumer Affairs Hon. Dr. Timothy Harris, presented its case to the Council with the aim to negotiate a partial scope trade agreement with Brazil.
Speaking to SKNVibes, Senior Trade Policy Officer Samuel Berridge explained that with the downturn experienced in the United States economy, there has been a significant reduction in orders for manufacturing products, particularly the electronic component sector. He added that the approval to negotiate with Brazil is “good news” for the public and private sectors as the nation could benefit greatly.
“The partial scope trade agreement would allow market access for a limited number of items to be traded free of duty. It is of great interest to us, as it will allow the manufacturing sector to benefit from the huge Brazilian market,” Berridge said in a May 18 exclusive interview.
He informed that although the negotiations have not begun in earnest, the St. Kitts-Nevis government remains confident that the trade discussions with Brazil would result in a number of positive spinoffs for the private sector.
“The benefits of improved access to the Brazilian market are obvious. Once we are granted preferential access to their markets, we will witness an increase in employment since there would be expanded production. We will also see an increase in exports which would enhance our profile in international trade. The expanded trade could also help our balance of payment situation, as our export will generate additional foreign exchange earnings.
“We don’t know how this [negotiation] would turn out but we are very optimistic. We have a few housekeeping arrangements to take care of and we will ensure that the negotiations are conducted within the interest of the people of St. Kitts-Nevis. We will also take into account the interest of other CARICOM Member states as well as our negotiating partners,” Berridge noted.
The other members of the delegation were Permanent Secretary within the Ministry of International Trade Ambassador Rosalyn Hazelle and Charleton Edwards. Further details of the partial scope arrangement are expected to be publicised as the negotiations take shape.