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CASTRIES, St Lucia — The Commonwealth Secretariat and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States are jointly hosting a workshop for countries in the OECS region to enhance their capacity to formulate effective trade policies and boost participation in regional and international trade negotiations.

The OECS member states, which are currently engaged in negotiations with Canada, have signed six trade agreements as part of CARICOM (with the European Union, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic and Venezuela) and are members of the World Trade Organisation.

The activity takes place in St Lucia from 4 to 8 March 2013, and targets Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, the British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines and the OECS Secretariat. Participants include senior officials responsible for trade policy analysis, negotiations and statistics.

Veniana Qalo, economic advisor at the Commonwealth Secretariat said: “The workshop will also provide an opportunity for the Commonwealth to present a summary of its analytical work on the fiscal impact of PACER Plus and to demonstrate how trade data and policy analysis tools can be utilised by negotiators. In addition, a Commonwealth guide for small states negotiators will be presented, highlighting successful approaches that can be used to help these capacity constrained economies to leverage successful outcomes, despite their size.”

Qalo added that small states face unique challenges such as remoteness, small size, and limited options for diversification, as well as capacity and skills constraints. The economic advisor says these make them vulnerable and limit their ability to effectively take advantage of the benefits of globalization and that the Commonwealth continues to be a champion of their interests.

The Commonwealth Secretariat, which is a key development partner of the region, is funding the activity.

The training is seen as a key intervention in building the region’s capacity to develop, implement and monitor national and regional trade policies and effectively engage in trade negotiations.

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