The virtual appointment ceremony of the members of Trinidad and Tobago’s National Trade Facilitation Committee (NTFC) for a further two years also marked the 17th meeting of the NTFC. The members were reappointed for the period August 2021-2023.
In a release, the Trade and Industry Ministry said the NTFC meets quarterly and provides a forum where ministries, agencies and organisations co-ordinate their activities in order to facilitate trade.
The NTFC is jointly chaired by Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) acting Permanent Secretary Ayleen Alleyne-Ovid, and acting Comptroller of Customs and Excise Vidya Marcial. It comprises 12 members with representatives of five ministries, the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) and six Agencies.
The representatives are Lueandra Neptune, Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries; Karlene Francois (Planning and Development); Carol Hernandez (Attorney General and Legal Affairs); Farz Khan (Health); Shelly Ann Baptiste, Tobago House of Assembly; Brian Benjamin, exporTT; Derek Luk Pat, Bureau of Standards; Patricia Persad-Wattley, Port Authority; Shelly Balkissoon, Point Lisas Industrial Port Development Corporation Ltd; and Emmanuel Baah, Airports Authority.
The ministry said representatives of private-sector organisations such as the TT Manufacturers’ Association, Chamber of Industry and Commerce, the American Chamber of Commerce, and the Customs Clerks and Brokers’ Association are invited to NTFC meetings to give feedback which is incorporated into decision-making.
The discussions at the meeting focused on the NTFC’s programme of activity for the term of appointment, namely activities to ensure that TT meets its deadlines for implementing commitments under the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade Facilitation (TFA). It also discussed monitoring of ongoing trade reform projects taking place under the Inter-American Development Bank loan-funded Project for the Strengthening of the Single Electronic Window for Trade and Business Facilitation.
“These include the development of a user-friendly trade and business information portal acting as a central repository for all regulatory information related to trade and business facilitation including imports and exports procedures, policies, legislation, fees etc. This information will be published on the internet. Another project is business process re-engineering, which seeks to bring the current major regulatory trade processes in line with international best practices, through simplification, modernization, and harmonization. A third project is the development of legislation to give effect to TT’s obligations under the TFA.”
Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon, in making the reappointment, said “The NTFC is a critical mechanism through which TT is implementing its commitments under the World Trade Organization Trade Facilitation Agreement. This objective is not an esoteric one, but one that will impact the ordinary lives of citizens, manufacturers and even government agencies, as goods are more easily released to importers.”
The release said NTFC will continue to lead trade facilitation reforms in TT.