You can now listen to Antigua News articles!
Businesses operating at the port in Antigua and Barbuda can now expect a smoother experience in getting their goods cleared, thanks to the Ministry of Trade’s latest move.
A new satellite office has been opened at the Port Authority Terminal building, which officials from both the ministry and the port authority have hailed as a significant step in improving the port’s efficiency and making business transactions in the country much easier, as mandated by the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Trade Minister E.P. Chet Greene commended the ministry staff for making the project a reality.
“I guess it won’t be long before the traders feel the effect of this office. I have said to my staff that opening the office is one, but ensuring services are in line with the vision is also very important,” he said
This office is the first of its kind in Antigua and Barbuda and the rest of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS). By signing onto the WTO arrangements, the government has committed to implementing and affecting them, which is why the opening of this office is a proud moment for the country.
The minister emphasized that the office’s opening would provide traders and importers with a single transaction window, eliminating the need to visit multiple locations and taking the economy to the next level.
“Persons would have to otherwise come to the Port to get a document signed and then return to the trade ministry. If you look at the cost of energy, that would be lowered…it also saves times…it adds to productivity,” he said
The ministry’s objective is to help the country and the economy move upward, and the new office is a significant step in that direction.
He said the office aligns with the government’s vision for the port to offer expanded services, including transporting goods to other islands.
The establishment of the office was initiated by Permanent Secretary Ambassador Clarence Pilgrim, who was driven by Antigua and Barbuda’s signing of the WTO agreement in 2017.
This agreement allowed for the free movement of goods and services between states, prompting the need for such an office to facilitate this process.
The government has obligations to uphold as a signatory to the agreement, and the Ministry of Trade is taking the lead in fulfilling them.
“This activity has been in the making for a very long time…We want to make sure that we adhere to the WHO’s treaty, which indicates that each country has certain responsibilities,” he said
Adding, “We want to create a single window, where entrepreneurs can come and do their business easily, transparently, harmonized and effectively and efficiently. Too often, we have had too many disjointed areas…” he added.
The National Trade Facilitation Committee, chaired by the Ministry, has established a single window for businesspeople and entrepreneurs, making it easier for them to navigate the process.
Port Manager Darwin Telemaque is pleased to partner with the Ministry of Trade to improve the port’s overall efficiency, and the new office is a step in that direction.
“When you design things to make life easier and better for the people, that speaks volumes. This is the real reason why we do what we do. I think it enhances the quality of service. It should reduce cost and time…” he said
Telemaque commended the Board of the port, singling out Senator Marie Clare Hurst.
He also mentioned that Port Minister and Prime Minister Gaston Browne is at the apex of ensuring the transformation came through.