20 Jul 2018
Participants at Geneva 2018 at the WTO

Senior Saint Lucia Government officials met at the WTO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland to discuss opportunities for creating stronger linkages between international trade policy and key government development priorities. These discussions took place amidst growing tensions between major trading nations and against the backdrop of government efforts to increase export opportunities for manufacturers and service suppliers.

The OECS Geneva Mission convened a caucus of Senior OECS Trade Officials on the margins of the 36th WTO Geneva Week - a twice-yearly meeting where capital based officials are briefed on key issues before the WTO membership. The caucus was convened to sensitise OECS Senior Officials on on-going negotiations as well as to consider new negotiating approaches that would feed into and support key OECS priorities including the creation of jobs and the building of economic resilience through increased trade opportunities.

Speaking at the conclusion of the caucus, H.E. Guy Mayers, Saint Lucia’s Permanent Representative to the WTO, noted ‘any new rules that are to be created must take account of our needs as small vulnerable economies and reflect the interest of our people.’ H.E also called for the membership of the WTO to support the creation of a special category for small and vulnerable island states, especially those that are under constant threat from geological and climate related disasters. Mr. Titus Preville, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Commerce and International Trade also stressed the importance of ensuring that any new rules ‘should increase the ability of OECS Micro, Small and Medium Sized enterprises to meaningfully participate in global value chains.’

While some elements of the WTO negotiating mandate have seen limited progress in recent times, there is a growing likelihood that talks on new issues such as: e-Commerce, Investment Facilitation, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises may take shape in the coming months.

Head of the OECS Mission to the WTO, Mr. Stephen Fevrier, noted that the OECS Commission is working closely with Member States to develop positions that respond to new and emerging negotiating issues. Mr. Fevrier further noted that ‘we need to be at the negotiating table to ensure that our priorities are fully incorporated into all new trade rules – we need to create sufficient space for our development’.