On May 3-5, 2023, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) completed its fourth review of the trade policies and practices of the six Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) WTO members. These are Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. The OECS delegation was led by the Honourable Everly Paul Chet Greene, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Antigua and Barbuda, and Chair of the OECS Council of Ministers of Trade. The discussant was Her Excellency Ambassador Nadia Theodore, Permanent Representative of Canada to the WTO.
WTO members, meeting as the Trade Policy Review Body, reviewed the WTO Secretariat’s Report and the reports from the Governments of those six countries. During the meeting, WTO members had the opportunity to seek clarity from the OECS delegation on various issues relating to their trade policies and practices. The Chairperson’s concluding remarks stated that 24 delegations had taken the floor over the two-day meeting and 169 advance written questions from 12 delegations had been submitted for the review.
According to the chairperson’s concluding remarks, the OECS members were applauded for “the constructive role that the OECS-WTO Members play in the multilateral trading system” despite their small size. They also received praise for their open trade and investment regimes and strong support of environmental action. However, major concerns raised surrounded implementation of commitments under WTO agreements and the backlog in compliance with their WTO notifications. It was pointed out in the Secretariat report that this was likely because of capacity constraints and the fall-out from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The OECS is a regional intergovernmental organisation and subregional integration movement in the Caribbean region which was formed in 1981 with the signing of the Treaty of Basseterre, subsequently revised. All OECS members are members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). Besides the six members mentioned (all six are sovereign States), it also includes a non-sovereign full member, Montserrat. These full members are part of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) and therefore share a common currency, the Eastern Caribbean dollar. Its associate members are non-sovereigns: British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Martinique and Guadeloupe.
The TPR reports are made publicly available and are a rich source of information for trade analysts and potential investors of a country’s trade policies and its general trading and macroeconomic environment. The TPRB chairperson’s concluding remarks are released shortly after. The minutes of the meeting, as well as members questions, are also released about six weeks after the conclusion of the review.
You can read the report and other documents here.
Alicia Nicholls, B.Sc., M.Sc, LL.B. is an international trade specialist and founder of the Caribbean Trade Law and Development blog http://www.caribbeantradelaw.com.
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