Report of the Permanent Commission for International Trade and Foreign Economic Relations
Development related to the Independent Membership of Curacao at the World Trade Organization
Since its acceptance on March 3, 2020, by the General Council of the WTO to established a working party for the accession of Curaçao to the organization the Permanent Commission for International Trade and Foreign Economic Relations started working on follow-up plans to achieve this goal. Together with the Secretariat and the Accessions Division of the WTO steps were planned and set in motion. These include capacity building programs and the preparation of the Memorandum of Foreign Trade Regime (MFTR). Substantial progress has been made in getting the key players on board for the benefit of the development of the accession.
As a new acceding country Curaçao is in dire need of capacity building. The secretariat of the WTO was very helpful in setting up a training program together with the Permanent Commission. The main stakeholders were invited to participate in the training. About 40 persons from different backgrounds and organizations enrolled in the program consisting of 33 subjects, covering trade in goods (Part 1), trade in services (Part 2) and Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)(Part 3).
Part 1 will be finalized in 2020 while parts 2 and 3 will be finalized in 2021. The participants are also encouraged to enroll in online training and webinars of the WTO to gain more insights into the different aspects and subjects of the WTO agreements and trade related knowledge.
The development of the Memorandum of Foreign Trade Regime (MFTR)
The accession process of the WTO is initiated by submitting a Memorandum of Foreign Trade Regime. This document describes the status of the country with respect to its readiness to participate in international trade and its ability to commit to international trade agreements.
The MFTR covers an array of subjects related to trade policies and trade legislation of in this case Curaçao. To have a comprehensive document the contributions of the main stakeholders are imperative. The main stakeholders in this phase of the accession process consists of government and semi-government organizations and a few private sector organizations.
Progress of the Bilateral agreements and preferential trade regimes
The Ministry of Economic Development of Curaçao has adopted a strategy to pursue its vision of becoming an export nation. To this end Curaçao is negotiating bilateral trade agreements with countries in the region. These countries are Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago and Aruba.
Colombia: Based on a signed trade negotiation roadmap the negotiation between Colombia and Curaçao is almost in its final phase. Dominican Republic, Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago, Aruba and CBERA are next.
Since 1 January 2020, the REX system is applied by the Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) in the context of the Overseas Association Decision (“OAD”), Council Decision 2013/755/EU, as amended by Council Decision (EU) 2019/2196. The Registered Exporter system (the REX system) is a system of certification of origin of goods based on a principle of self-certification. Therefore, as from 1 January 2020, tariff preference will be granted at import in the EU on products originating in OCTs only on presentation of statements on origin made out by registered exporters. Certificates of origin EUR.1 or origin declarations made out by approved exporters are no longer admissible in the EU. All the companies that want to export to the EU have been informed of this new system. It alleviates in having to fill in the time-consuming EUR-1 document.
Strengthening the Permanent Commission
Together with the increase of bilateral trade agreements and the requirements of a WTO membership also comes the growth of the workload for the Permanent Commission. For this reason, the Permanent Commission has been strengthened. In this respect three professionals have been added to the Secretariat of the Permanent Commission. Miss Solains Tomasa has a legal background and has joined the commission to support the secretariat. Mr. Guido Rojer is a lecturer at the University of Curaçao in International Trade and has also joined the commission. The last addition to the Permanent Commission is Mr. Dennis Arrindell with an economic background. They have all been assigned positions in different work areas of the commission.
The working groups
In the context of the various dossiers and in view of the expected increase in the number of dossiers, it was decided, in accordance with the work plan, to adjust and/or set up the working groups as follows.
Working group 1 (Goods): Mr. Leopold Raphaela, and is supported by Mr. Jairo Herrera
Working group 2 (Services): Mr. Guido Rojer
Working group 3 (Statistics and analyses): Mr. Dennis Arrindell
Working group 4 (Contact management): Mr. Said Hensen is entrusted with the management of contacts with the various countries.