for TRADE Matters…

Office of Trade Negotiations
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)

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 (CARICOM)
The Community
The Caribbean Community (CARICOM), is an organization of 15 Caribbean nations and dependencies. CARICOM's main purposes are to that promote the Its economic of integration integration and are cooperation among its members, to ensure benefits major equitably shared, and to coordinate foreign policy. activities involve coordinating development economic planning; policies devising and and instituting special projects for the lessdeveloped countries within its jurisdiction; operating as a regional single market for many of its members (Caricom Single Market); and handling regional trade disputes. The secretariat headquarters is based in Georgetown, Guyana.

The CARICOM Secretariat
The CARICOM Secretariat is the principal administrative organ of the Community and is headed by a Secretary General who is the Chief Executive Officer of the Community.

Mission Statement:
To provide dynamic leadership and service in partnership with Community Institutions and groups, toward the attainment of a viable, internationally Community, competitive with and sustainable improved

quality of life for all.

The New Trade Environment
Rapid advancements in technology and communications have helped the global community to become more interconnected culturally, economically and politically. The benefit has been that the world, more than ever before, has the capacity to quickly exchange information, goods and services, innovation, labour resources and capital across international borders. This process of exchange has also created a growing independence of nation states. In spite of this interdependence, the outcome of

Trade liberalization and trade preference erosion have resulted in increased competition to Caribbean exports in the International market.

participating in the international economic system has varied significantly for nations because of differences in power, wealth, and capacity to use resources to realize and sustain development. Relatively small population and

market size, limited financial resources and susceptibility to natural disasters challenge the Caribbean’s ability to sustain economic development within the global economic system. There are current trends in international trade that present challenges to development for developing countries, such as those of the Caribbean. International trade is currently characterized by acceleration of the removal of barriers to trade (trade liberalization), such as taxes on imports upon entry into a country (tariffs), and limits on the quantity of goods that can be imported (quota restrictions). Another characteristic associated with

Cultivating external trading relationships is essential for the Caribbean to adjust to the challenges presented by the external trade environment and to take advantages of the opportunities. Through the development of external trade relationships, the Region will be best able to negotiate the pace and intensity of trade liberalization. Furthermore, the Caribbean may better secure the flexibility needed to attract and use technological innovation, labour resources, and investment, to transform the capacity, efficiency, productivity and competitiveness of productive sectors. External trade negotiations are therefore an indispensible part of the Regional Strategy to reposition their economies in the global economic system. The Office of Trade Negotiations (OTN) is charged with the responsibility of helping the Caribbean to competitively position itself in the global market place, in

international trade is the erosion of privileges in the form of non-reciprocal trade preferences that facilitate duty free or reduced duty access of some products from developing countries, such as the Caribbean, to developed country markets such as the United States and Europe. Trade liberalization and trade preferences erosion have resulted in increased competition to Caribbean exports on the international market. This has been the case, for example, in the banana and sugar sectors. Caribbean producers are therefore compelled to adjust, so that they can continue to compete at global standards of efficiency, productivity and quality.

order to maximize trade and development opportunities for the long term benefit of the Caribbean people.

What is the OTN?
In the mid 1980s it became clear to the leaders of Caribbean governments that external trade negotiations were going to be extremely important in helping the Region adjust to the challenges of the changing international environment. It was also apparent that these negotiations were essential to enabling the Caribbean to advantage of development opportunities in areas where the Caribbean may have potential competitive edge.
Given the Region’s limited human and financial resources, external negotiations had to be approached in a coordinated, managed and systematic way to avoid use of these resources in an inefficient an ineffective manner. It was considered necessary to create an organization whose dedicated task would be to manage the negotiation process under direction of the Regional Governments. In recognition of these challenges, the Conference of the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), formally established the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery (CRNM) in April 1997 to develop, coordinate and execute an overall negotiating strategy for various external negotiations in which the Region was involved. At the behest of the CARICOM Member States, who principally constituted CRNM’s membership, the CRNM also represented the trade interests of the Dominican Republic and Cuba in specific negotiating arenas. The CRNM underwent restructuring in order to streamline the logistics of its core function with operational and administrative systems of other related Community Organs, instruments and organizations. Following a decision taken in March 12-13 2009 in Belize during the Twentieth Inter- Sessional Meeting of the Conference of the Heads, the CRNM was incorporated into the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat as a Specialized Department. Subsequently, another decision was taken by the Heads of Government during the 30th Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) held 2-4 July 2009 in Guyana, to rename the CRNM as the Office of Trade Negotiations (OTN). The CRNM, as the Office of Trade Negotiations of the CARICOM Secretariat, now has extended responsibility for the coordination, development, and execution of negotiating strategies for all Community external trade negotiations. The OTN is led by the Director General, Ambassador Gail Mathurin, whose appointment was confirmed in July 2009.

Director-General of the OTN, H. E. Ambassador Gail S. Mathurin, CD

The Mandate
The OTN is responsible for developing and maintaining a cohesive and effective framework for the coordination and management of CARICOM’s external trade negotiation resources and expertise. Our mission is to help Member States maximize the benefits of participating in global trade negotiations by:

• • • •

Facilitating the generation of national positions Coordinating the formulation of a cohesive negotiating strategy Leading negotiations where appropriate Providing sound advice when required

The Negotiations in Focus
The OTN engages in negotiations on four general levels: negotiations of the Free Trade Area of the Americas. (FTAA). NB. These negotiations have been dormant since 2003;

• •

Multilateral Level – This includes negotiations within the World Trade Organization (WTO); Inter-regional negotiations of Level the – This included the

Bilateral Level – This includes the negotiation of agreements between CARICOM and other countries such as: Canada, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic.



Agreement (EPA) with the European Union;

The Hemispheric Level – This includes the

Structure and Functioning of the OTN
At all levels of negotiations, Trade and Foreign Ministers, their professional staff in Member State capitals, and their Representatives in centres such as Brussels and Geneva, have played, and continue to play essential roles in the negotiating process. The OTN is involved intimately 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 for technical work of the organization, a Director of Technical Cooperation, Partnerships and Information responsible for relations with the donor 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 a negotiation, the mechanism designed to ensure coherence across the negotiating positions in several negotiating disciplines is a College of Negotiators. A College comprises Lead and Alternate Lead Negotiators for each of the negotiating arenas who actually undertake the negotiations under the overall coordination of the Dean of the College. Colleges meet periodically, and independently of a negotiation, to review developments in the respective negotiating arenas, and to discuss future strategies. Some of the OTN’s technical staff members serve alongside 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 report to 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.

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:

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.

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.

Mattering more to the Community
OTN is proud of the progress made since inception. Through OTN’s Communications Outreach Program stakeholders across the region have not only been sensitized to the regional challenges of development but have also been educated about 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 private sector about trade negotiation issues. The program has helped to build the private sector’s confidence to participate more actively in the shaping of external trade policy. Additionally, the OTN through training internships has contributed to the development of a cadre of professionals over the years. Through improving human capital, the OTN is continuing to assist the region in overcoming its limitations to secure the future of regional development.

Member States
The OTN represents the following member states of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Republic of Cuba. Antigua and Barbuda Belize Cooperative Republic of Guyana Fed. Of St. Christopher (Kitts) and Nevis Republic of Suriname The Barbados Commonwealth of Dominica Republic of Haiti St. Lucia Republic of Trinidad and Tobago Barbados Grenada Jamaica St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful