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A Glimpse at the Office of trade Negotiations (OTN), CARICOM Secretariat


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A Glimpse at the Office of trade Negotiations (OTN), CARICOM Secretariat

  1. 1. Office of Trade NegotiationsforTRADE Matters… OTN Barbados Office 1st floor, “Speedbird House” Independence Square Bridgetown BB1121 BARBADOS (246) 430 1670 (T) (246) 228 9528 (F) OTN Jamaica Office 2nd floor, PCJ Building 36 Trafalgar Road Kingston 10 JAMAICA (876) 908 4242/3922 (T) (876) 754 2998 (F)
  2. 2. Trade and Everyday Life Simply put, international trade happens when goods and services are sold across international borders. At the basic level, trade is necessary because it allows people within countries to access resources, goods and services that are not produced locally. Trade also helps people to acquire resources, goods and services that are produced more cheaply by foreign producers than by local producers Beyond this, because international trade improves the circulation of global resources, it also facilitates the generation of employment and business opportunities, and helps reduce poverty and propel development. International Trade matters. It affects our daily lives. The prices of the goods and services we buy, the quality and quantity of employment opportunities for present and future generations, the prospects for attracting investment to our Region and the capacity of Caribbean countries to improve wealth creation are all dependent on our trading relationships with the rest of the world. However, international trade is complex and can be affected by international politics and the balance of world power among the trading parties. It is therefore important to ensure that smaller, less developed and more vulnerable countries derive practical and concrete benefit from their trading relationship. Individuals across the Region need to be aware of the importance of trade in achieving improved standards of living, new opportunities for business and employment and an overall improved quality of life.The Caribbean Community The CARICOM Secretariat The CARICOM Secretariat is the principal(CARICOM) administrative organ of the Community and is headed by a Secretary General who is the Chief Executive Officer of the Community.The Community coordinating economic policies and Mission Statement:The Caribbean Community (CARICOM), is development planning; devising andan organization of 15 Caribbean nations and instituting special projects for the less- To provide dynamic leadership and servicedependencies. CARICOMs main purposes are developed countries within its jurisdiction; in partnership with Community Institutionsto promote economic integration and operating as a regional single market for and groups, toward the attainment of acooperation among its members, to ensure many of its members (Caricom Single viable, internationally competitive andthat the benefits of integration are Market); and handling regional trade sustainable Community, with improvedequitably shared, and to coordinate foreign disputes. The secretariat headquarters is quality of life for all.policy. Its major activities involve based in Georgetown, Guyana.
  3. 3. The New Trade EnvironmentRapid advancements in technology and communicationshave helped the global community to become moreinterconnected culturally, economically and politically. Trade liberalization andThe benefit has been that the world, more than everbefore, has the capacity to quickly exchange information, trade preference erosiongoods and services, innovation, labour resources andcapital across international borders. This process of have resulted in increasedexchange has also created a growing independence of competition to Caribbeannation states. exports in theIn spite of this interdependence, the outcome ofparticipating in the international economic system has International market.varied significantly for nations because of differences inpower, wealth, and capacity to use resources to realizeand sustain development. Relatively small population andmarket size, limited financial resources and susceptibility Cultivating external trading relationships is essential forto natural disasters challenge the Caribbean’s ability to the Caribbean to adjust to the challenges presented bysustain economic development within the global economic the external trade environment and to take advantages ofsystem. the opportunities. Through the development of external trade relationships, the Region will be best able toThere are current trends in international trade that negotiate the pace and intensity of trade liberalization.present challenges to development for developing Furthermore, the Caribbean may better secure thecountries, such as those of the Caribbean. International flexibility needed to attract and use technologicaltrade is currently characterized by acceleration of the innovation, labour resources, and investment, toremoval of barriers to trade (trade liberalization), such as transform the capacity, efficiency, productivity andtaxes on imports upon entry into a country (tariffs), and competitiveness of productive sectors.limits on the quantity of goods that can be imported (quotarestrictions). Another characteristic associated with External trade negotiations are therefore an indispensibleinternational trade is the erosion of privileges in the form part of the Regional Strategy to reposition theirof non-reciprocal trade preferences that facilitate duty economies in the global economic or reduced duty access of some products fromdeveloping countries, such as the Caribbean, to developed The Office of Trade Negotiations (OTN) is charged withcountry markets such as the United States and Europe. the responsibility of helping the Caribbean to competitively position itself in the global market place, inTrade liberalization and trade preferences erosion have order to maximize trade and development opportunitiesresulted in increased competition to Caribbean exports on for the long term benefit of the Caribbean people.the international market. This has been the case, forexample, in the banana and sugar sectors. Caribbeanproducers are therefore compelled to adjust, so that theycan continue to compete at global standards of efficiency,productivity and quality.
  4. 4. What is the OTN?In the mid 1980s it became clear to the leaders of Caribbean governmentsthat external trade negotiations were going to be extremely important inhelping the Region adjust to the challenges of the changing internationalenvironment. It was also apparent that these negotiations were essential toenabling the Caribbean to advantage of development opportunities in areaswhere the Caribbean may have potential competitive edge.Given the Region’s limited human and financial resources, external negotiations had to beapproached in a coordinated, managed and systematic way to avoid use of these resources in aninefficient an ineffective manner. It was considered necessary to create an organization whosededicated task would be to manage the negotiation process under direction of the RegionalGovernments.In recognition of these challenges, the Conference of the Heads of Government of theCaribbean Community (CARICOM), formally established the Caribbean Regional NegotiatingMachinery (CRNM) in April 1997 to develop, coordinate and execute an overall negotiatingstrategy for various external negotiations in which the Region was involved. At the behest ofthe CARICOM Member States, who principally constituted CRNM’s membership, the CRNM alsorepresented the trade interests of the Dominican Republic and Cuba in specific negotiatingarenas.The CRNM underwent restructuring in order to streamline the logistics of its core function with Director-General of the OTN,operational and administrative systems of other related Community Organs, instruments and H. E. Ambassador Gail S. Mathurin, CDorganizations.Following a decision taken in March 12-13 2009 in Belize during the Twentieth Inter- SessionalMeeting of the Conference of the Heads, the CRNM was incorporated into the CaribbeanCommunity (CARICOM) Secretariat as a Specialized Department. Subsequently, another decisionwas taken by the Heads of Government during the 30th Meeting of the Conference of Heads ofGovernment of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) held 2-4 July 2009 in Guyana, to renamethe CRNM as the Office of Trade Negotiations (OTN).The CRNM, as the Office of Trade Negotiations of the CARICOM Secretariat, now has extendedresponsibility for the coordination, development, and execution of negotiating strategies for allCommunity external trade negotiations. The OTN is led by the Director General, AmbassadorGail Mathurin, whose appointment was confirmed in July 2009.
  5. 5. The MandateThe OTN is responsible for developing and maintaining a • Facilitating the generation of national positionscohesive and effective framework for the coordination and • Coordinating the formulation of a cohesive negotiating strategymanagement of CARICOM’s external trade negotiation • Leading negotiations where appropriateresources and expertise. Our mission is to help Member • Providing sound advice when requiredStates maximize the benefits of participating in globaltrade negotiations by:The Negotiations in FocusThe OTN engages in negotiations on four general levels: negotiations of the Free Trade Area of the Americas. (FTAA). NB. These negotiations have • Multilateral Level – This includes negotiations been dormant since 2003; within the World Trade Organization (WTO); • Bilateral Level – This includes the negotiation of • Inter-regional Level – This included the agreements between CARICOM and other negotiations of the Economic Partnership countries such as: Canada, Costa Rica, and the Agreement (EPA) with the European Union; Dominican Republic. • The Hemispheric Level – This includes theStructure and Functioning of the OTNAt all levels of negotiations, Trade and Foreign Ministers, their professional staff in Member State capitals, and their Representatives incentres such as Brussels and Geneva, have played, and continue to play essential roles in the negotiating process. The OTN is involvedintimately in integrating these efforts in order to arrive at common regional negotiating positions.The OTN management team is currently comprised of the Director-General, a Deputy Senior Director with overarching responsibility fortechnical work of the organization, a Director of Technical Cooperation, Partnerships and Information responsible for relations with thedonor community and overall management of grant agreements; and a Director of Finance and Administration responsible for budget,finance and administration matters.The technical team consists of CARICOM nationals who are experts in various issues which are the subject of the negotiations. During anegotiation, the mechanism designed to ensure coherence across the negotiating positions in several negotiating disciplines is a College ofNegotiators. A College comprises Lead and Alternate Lead Negotiators for each of the negotiating arenas who actually undertake thenegotiations under the overall coordination of the Dean of the College. Colleges meet periodically, and independently of a negotiation, toreview developments in the respective negotiating arenas, and to discuss future strategies. Some of the OTN’s technical staff members servealongside regional experts either as Lead Negotiators, or as Alternate Lead Negotiators within a College.The governance structure established by the Heads of Government requires the OTN, as a Department of the CARICOM Secretariat, to reportto the CARICOM Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) which gives the OTN guidance, and defines its negotiating mandate.The Director-General is also directly responsible to the Secretary-General of the CARICOM Secretariat.
  6. 6. Heads of Government have approved the use of a broad consultation process in development and design of regional negotiating positions. This process includes the following: Challenges Representing the region’s external trade negotiating interests is important but challenging work. The OTN’s responsibility is confronted by institutional and negotiating challenges. These include: • Responding in a timely manner to the technical requirements of negotiations, as this tends to require highly specialized knowledge. • Absence of relevant technical and statistical data in many countries • Deploying limited regional human and financial resources to execute the mandate • Ensuring that the particular problems which face the small regional economies are accommodated in new trading arrangements. The OTN is assisted in endeavours to overcome these challenges through the contributions of regional member states, and through partnerships with a number of regional and international agents from several countries including Canada, Europe and the United States. Achievements Notwithstanding these challenges there have been a number of achievements accomplished over the years. The OTN has • Helped forge trans-regional alliances with Latin American and African countries in external trade negotiating arenas. • Attained considerable success in advancing bilateral negotiations within its mandate • Become more user-friendly, consultative and responsive to a variety of stakeholders in order to better facilitate member countries in the process of strategic global repositioning.
  7. 7. Mattering more to the CommunityOTN is proud of the progress made since inception. Through OTN’s Communications Outreach Program stakeholdersacross the region have not only been sensitized to the regional challenges of development but have also been educatedabout the opportunities and potential for regional development in the international trading environment. In particular,the Private Sector Outreach programme has been instrumental in helping to improve the knowledge of the privatesector about trade negotiation issues. The program has helped to build the private sector’s confidence to participatemore actively in the shaping of external trade policy.Additionally, the OTN through training internships has contributed to the development of a cadre of professionals overthe years. Through improving human capital, the OTN is continuing to assist the region in overcoming its limitations tosecure the future of regional development.Member StatesThe OTN represents the following member states of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Republic of Cuba.Antigua and Barbuda The Barbados BarbadosBelize Commonwealth of Dominica GrenadaCooperative Republic of Guyana Republic of Haiti JamaicaFed. Of St. Christopher (Kitts) and Nevis St. Lucia St. Vincent and the GrenadinesRepublic of Suriname Republic of Trinidad and Tobago