Local Regulatory Agencies Prepare Caribbean Territories for CSME


Commerce, Science and Technology Minister, Phillip Paulwell has lauded the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) and the Anti-Dumping and Subsidies Commission (ADSC) for their assistance in preparing other Caribbean territories for the upcoming Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME).
According to the Minister, CARICOM had sought the assistance of the FTC in developing fair competition laws, “in time for the implementation of the CSME in 2005”. As such, Jamaica’s Fair Competition Act, which is administered by the FTC, would be a model for a CARICOM Competition Act being drafted for CARICOM.
He was speaking at the launch of the United States Agency for International Development/New Economy Project (USAID/NEP) Assistance programme for the FTC and the ADSC. The function was held recently at the Terra Nova All Suite Hotel in Kingston.
The CARICOM Competition Act “will seek to address uncompetitive conduct within the region and regulate cross-border issues between the member states of CARICOM”, Minister Paulwell explained. He added that, similar to the role of the FTC, a CARICOM Competition Commission would be established to administer the Act on behalf of the region, “to ensure that a fair and competitive environment is established for the smooth and proper functioning of the CSME”.
Additionally, he said that the FTC was instrumental in the establishment of a competition agency in Barbados, which now joins Jamaica “as the only two Caribbean territories to have a competition act and agency”.
For its role, Minister Paulwell said that he was pleased with the assistance that the ADSC had given to other Governments in the region and to the architects of the CSME, “as they seek to fulfill their obligations to their international trading partners in this increasingly globalised environment”.
He said that the expertise that the ADSC had developed in areas such as trade remedies through World Trade Organisation (WTO) Agreements, had allowed the Commission to offer its services, which were “unparalleled in the region”. The Minister noted that the staff at the ADSC recently went to Guyana to assist in sensitizing both private and public sector persons in trade matters with an emphasis on anti-dumping disciplines.
The USAID/New Economy Project was implemented in both agencies to improve the administrative operations and the quality delivery of service to match the changes in the global trade environment, Mission Director at USAID, Karen Turner explained.
She argued that with the onset of globalisation and the attendant reduction and eventual elimination of trade barriers, preferential treatment and the transformation of economies into fully liberalized markets, “the FTC and the ADSC are crucial in promoting fair competition and protecting consumers”.
She added that other USAID/NEP assistance to various government bodies should go towards improving the conduct of business in Jamaica while noting that Jamaica was becoming an attractive location to do business.
Substantiating this claim, Miss Turner pointed to a World Bank Report titled: “Doing Business in 2004”, which identified Jamaica as among the top ten countries in the world “that regulate businesses the least”. She added, “Jamaica is the only developing country on the list together with countries such as Singapore, the United States, Hong Kong, Canada and Australia”.
According to Miss Turner, the ranking was a “noteworthy achievement”, which demonstrated that the on-going partnership of the government, the private sector and the donor community, “is changing the environment for business activity and is reaping dividends”.
She observed that the FTC and the ADSC were pacesetters in their efforts “to strengthen the competitiveness of the Jamaican economy”.
The USAID/NEP project has seen the development of a Case Information Management System (CIMS) and a Trade Information Management System (TIMS) in the FTC and the ADSC respectively. The new systems are aimed at improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the operation of both agencies.
CIMS is a workflow management system designed to assist FTC officers with investigation. It has an alert feature that notifies officers of any inactive cases. This feature is said to be able to reduce the number of inactive cases by 50 per cent.
TIMS, a document management information technology system, provides for the electronic documentation of cases and facilitates quicker response time to queries.The USAID/NEP programme was also helpful in strengthening the statute governing the operation of the FTC and provided training to staff at both institutions.

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