Trade stakeholders from the public and private sectors are currently participating in a three day Seminar on the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) in St. Kitts and Nevis with the aim to better understand the importance of services sectors from an international trade perspective.
Facilitators for the workshop are Martin Roy and Dale Honeck Counsellors – Trade in Services and Investment Division, WTO. Mr. Roy said that it is important for participants to use the forum wisely.
“The purpose of this event will be to try and bring you all together from different ministries to try to better understand the importance of international trade in this sector and to see what the contributions of trade in services can be to better performance in different services sectors for growth and development,” he said, adding that an important purpose is also to understand St. Kitts and Nevis’ Trade Policy “with respect to services across all the different ministries and sectors that have regulations and policies that are important and that serve to achieve different services objective.”
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of International Trade, Jasmine Weekes, welcomed the participants and said that their presence is of significant importance, as the workshop will equip trade negotiators and stakeholders with relevant information and evidence-based policy implications on pertinent issues in ongoing and future negotiations.
“Your presence is evidence that St. Kitts and Nevis is ready and committed to explore further opportunities embedded in trade in services for the development of our federation,” said the permanent secretary. “Most importantly, your presence demonstrates your commitment to ensuring that our trade in services regime is one such that can benefit all of our people,” she added.
Mrs. Weekes said that a seminar of this nature is extremely important because the services sector is vital to the economy of St. Kitts and Nevis.
“The services sector in St. Kitts and Nevis contributes just over 70 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) which to my mind is enough for each of us here to embrace the move to advance this sector,” she stated. “What is clear to us as trade technocrats in the Ministry of International Trade is the obvious linkage between services and industry and the need to prioritize those services and industries that are relevant for a valued chain.”
Mrs. Weekes said that St. Kitts and Nevis as a small island developing country is guided by the World Trade Organization (WTO) – Article 19 of the GATS, as it lays down the basis for successive rounds of negotiations.
Participants for day one were drawn from the various line ministries and departments within the government. These include but are not limited to the Ministries of Health, Finance, Education, Tourism, Telecommunications, Culture and Sports, and the Departments of Labour, Statistics and Legal, as well as Port Services. Day two will focus on participants from the private sector.
She added that their participation in the March 05-07 workshop “can lend to the conversation as to what our trade in services regime should be like and what measures should be put in place to foster services trade in the federation”.