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Govt to debate EPA Bill
In the coming weeks, Parliament will debate the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) Bill, which is aimed at enforcing the EPA, a potential source of tremendous market expansion for exporters, says Minister of Trade and Industry Stephen Cadiz. The EPA agreement, which was signed in 2008, guarantees T&T lower duties and increased trade quotas with the member states of the European Union. The Ministry of Trade was also seeking to establish an EPA Implementation Unit this month.
“We actively pursuing other trade arrangements with Canada, and more recently with Panama. In fact, last week negotiators from both sides concluded the first round of talks aimed at a Partial Scope Agreement between Trinidad and Tobago and Panama,” said Cadiz.
He was speaking at the launch of TTBizLink, the Government’s answer to erasing the bureaucracy of doing business in T&T, which was officially launched on Tuesday night at the Hyatt. TTBizLink aims to reduce the time for processing trade related applications from 15 to 30 days to one week and eventually two to three days. When the process is fully rolled out, it will connect five Government ministries and 13 Government departments and agencies all involved in the trade process. From February 4, companies and individuals will be able to sign up and familiarise themselves with the modules and register to use the system. Cadiz said while the People’s Partnership inherited the project, it worked fast to accelerate the implementation to revolutionise the way to do business in T&T.
“We know that Trinidad and Tobago is not where it should be on several global indices of international competitiveness. While we rank in the top 40 countries in two regulatory areas (Getting credit and protecting investors) in the World Bank’s annual ease of doing business survey, we are nowhere satisfactory, in terms of trading across borders, starting a business, closing a business, enforcing contracts, registering property and constructions approvals,” he said. Cadiz believes T&T’s services will also strengthen its international position in terms of attracting Investors, specifically through facilitating applications for fiscal incentives and work permits applications. Cadiz recognised that expanded market access is critical for the services and manufacturing sectors. We therefore continue to enlarge our markets through favourable trading arrangements for our exporters. “Our strategy is to grow the economy by facilitating business, trade and investment. It is quite simply, to make business easy,” he said.
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