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OECS to hold high level retreat in St. Lucia

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August 23 Castries St. Lucia: Public and private sector officials within the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) will participate in a High Level Retreat (HLR) convened from August 25th – 26th in St. Lucia at the Bay Gardens Hotel to discuss elements of a Sub-regional Trade Policy Framework.

Antigua's Trade Affairs Officer in the Ministry of International Trade, Michael Freeland said that OECS countries have taken the initiative to set up a Trade Policy Project which will facilitate the development and maintenance of an OECS international trade strategy developed within a sub-regional trade policy framework.  He noted that the intention is to provide a focus for guiding discussions in a coordinated manner within International Trade Negotiations. According to Freeland, “the results from these consultations are expected to serve as a guide to the finalization of a Sub-regional Policy Framework Document for consideration of Member States towards its adoption at a Sub-regional level.”

Mr. Freeland further stated that an OECS Trade Policy Framework is seen as fundamental for the coordination of an OECS action in Trade issues at both regional and international levels and it is essential that all Member States be involved in its evolution. In addition, “we must be mindful that within one year’s time, the WTO Trade Policy Review will be conducted and this Trade Policy Framework could prove essential to that exercise,” he said.

Some of the concerns Member States will be discussing, includes Services, Agriculture, Gender Equity and other negotiation forums that OECS countries will participate in. Other delegates to this meeting from Antigua include Sean Cenac from the Ministry of Planning, Natasha George from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Gloria Joseph, private sector.

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