ACS director: TT will benefit

Noting this is a topic that has been mentioned in other spaces such as the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECES), Caricom and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Duran said this is a measure which is “ oriented to help the free movement of businessmen and investors.”

“ For that reason, the ACS which has been working over the last 20 years in the Greater Caribbean is also concerned about that topic,” he explained. “Our idea is that we could conclude with something concrete that the member states could address at the Summit in Mexico in the first quarter of 2014.”

Asked about the time frame to implement this measure, Duran explained: “We have different stages. We have the special committee that is integrated by member states. If it needs more political support, we will address it to the ministerial council.” On whether the ACS had conversations on this matter with the Government, specifically Trade Minister Vasant Bharath who has been publicly speaking about improving ways of doing business in TT, Duran said, “We have very good relationships with all of the Trinidadian authorities as well as we have with the rest of the Member States of the ACS. We need to put concrete actions to help the trade to move forward.” “There are a lot of issues pending within the region. We think we have to promote certain facilities to increase the trade within the Greater Caribbean,” he added.

On how this initiative compares with the free movement of persons under the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME), ACS trade advisoer Kariyma Baltimore explained, “ We are not moving towards an exemption of a work permit but we are just trying to facilitate the movement of business persons and investors. A first step for us is really to harmonise requirements.”

“Many Member States requiring onerous documents and the process may take up to six months in some territories and maybe a week in others,” she stated

Earlier in the day during the opening ceremony at the Secretariat for the ACS’ Working Group on Business Visas, ACS Secretary- General said the ability of the Association to better facilitate the issuance of business visas to potential investors would redound to the benefit of trade and investment in the Greater Caribbean. Muneira made this point when he addressed the opening ceremony of the ACS’ Working Group on Business Visas at the Association’s Secretariat in St Clair.

A business visa is defined as a visa issued to some one for the purpose of engaging in commerce in a particular country. These visas generally preclude permanent employment, for which a work visa would be required. Recalling that one of the mandates of the ACS is to find ways to facilitate intra-regional trade, Muneira explained there have been concerns since the 1990’s about ways in which this could be done.

Observing that “many things have changes” since the ACS was established in 1994, Muneira said it was critical the Association formulate concrete plans regarding the ability of its member states to issue business visas, because other bodies were seeking ways to carve out their own economic spaces.

Muneria referred to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which includes the United States and several Pacific nations, noting that Costa Rica and Panama are soon expected to join this emerging trade bloc.

He also noted that the Community of Caribbean and Latin American States (CELAC), of which TT is a member, is currently contemplating the introduction of a single passport that offers Latin American and Caribbean citizenship. During the meeting, Duran agreed with Muneira’s views, explaining the findings at the last meeting of the Working Group suggested among other things, the need to unify trade and immigration policies among member states to better facilitate the issuance of business visas.

A statement issued by the ACS on February 5 following a meeting of the Working Group in January 25, indicated, “A general observation among member states is that the borders are open for recreational tourists but business persons and investors are faced with vaguely defined limitations that confuse the type of activity they are allowed to partake in.”

The statement also said while ACS member states “ generally welcome foreign business persons and investors; however, there still exists concerns related to border control and security.”

Mexico said it dealt with those concerns through the issuance of a biometric visa, with security features to allow for easy detection of fraud. At the January meeting, the TT representative outlined this country’s cooperation with Interpol in an attempt to safeguard its borders.


"ACS director: TT will benefit"

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