[Georgetown, Guyana – April 30, 2015]

Caribbean news. Customs officials, legal experts and CARICOM representatives closed their final meeting in Guyana in agreement on the way forward for the finalisation of the regulations to support harmonised customs legislation for the region. Over the period, April 27-30, 2015 the group met for the second time in two months to continue its review of the draft regulations presented in Antigua & Barbuda in February, 2015.

Bernard Black

Bernard Black

The substantial progress made on these deliberations is the product of a 12-year long process supported heavily by the ACP Business Climate Facility (BizClim) and signals a commitment to unlocking the region’s collective trading potential.

Closure on this process will see finalised regulations submitted first to the relevant CARICOM meeting bodies for their approval, then to national governments for consideration alongside the Draft Bill to harmonise customs.

With the successful implementation of proposed modern systems and procedures, stakeholders can look forward to direct, tangible benefits such as increased operational efficiency and the application of consistent standards throughout the region.

“A number of major advantages of the harmonised reform package include a strengthened, standardised complaints system for aggrieved traders that will engender greater accountability; a single, identical electronic form for the region’s customs brokers to improve accuracy and facilitate the generation of reliable data; and the simplification of bureaucratic processes resulting in reduced waiting periods for traders”, states Bernard Black, CARICOM Secretariat.

The effective development and application of a harmonised customs policy and legislation for the region remains an important step in achieving the goals of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy. At the end of the meeting, Mr Black commended the ACP Business Facility for its “monumental assistance towards the deepening of the region’s economic integration process.”