OECS to discuss WTO implications on economies

ROSEAU, Dominica, March 30, 2009 – Officials from trade, agriculture and the private sector will meet in Roseau, Dominica this week to deliberate on the implications of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) negotiations for the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and strategise for their continued participation. 

The meeting which takes place March 31 – April 1 will cover trade in agricultural and industrial products and services.  Experts from the OECS Mission in Geneva, the WTO and the International Trade Centre will facilitate the activity.

The current round of negotiations, called the Doha Development Agenda, was launched in November 2001. Failure to reach agreement on the lynchpin issues of market access for agricultural and industrial goods and agricultural subsidies have stalled the conclusion of the round. However, the negotiations have been assuming greater importance more recently, as members attempt to stem the tide of protectionism that has been rising in the wake of the global economic crisis.

The Member States of the OECS, as small vulnerable developing economies, have an important stake in the current round of trade negotiations.  Fiscal revenues and preferential market access regimes will be affected by liberalization obligations. The relatively fragile and fledgling manufacturing and agriculture sectors in the OECS also require that governments maintain adequate flexibility and policy space to safeguard productive domestic sectors. 

This meeting is the first in a series of two consultations on the WTO negotiations.  The next one will take place in Antigua and Barbuda on April 8 and 9 and will focus on fisheries.

Six OECS countries are members of the WTO – Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica. Grenada, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia and St. Vincent & the Grenadines.