The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Commerce and Information Technology is the lead Government agency with the responsibility of managing the country’s international trade and foreign relations, as well as domestic commerce and consumer advocacy. The Ministry also has responsibility for developing and maintaining a sustainable Information Technology based economy. In the exercise of this mandate, the Ministry has had to be pragmatic and flexible in its approach to doing business, given the prevailing international economic environment which, at the best of times, has not been very accommodating to small states.
INTERNATIONAL TRADE AND COMMERCE DEPARTMENT
The Foreign Trade and Commerce Department is responsible for coordinating and facilitating policy formulation and implementation and the monitoring of trade at the domestic, regional and international level.
FOREIGN TRADE DIVISION
The Foreign Trade Unit aims to promote St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ participation in the global trading system in an effort to facilitate and foster its development by promoting trade and investment. The Unit also seeks to foster SVG’s development through regional integration and development co-operation. Its strategic purpose is therefore to negotiate international trade agreements on a bilateral and multilateral basis within the context of a global trading environment.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a party to a number of Trade and Economic Agreements including the WTO Agreement, the CARIFORUM/EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), the CARICOM Single Market and Economy and the OECS Economic Union Agreement. The Ministry continues to lead the process on the SVG participation in the CARICOM-Canada Trade and Development Agreement.
WTO TRADE REFERENCE CENTER
The WTO through its Trade-Related Technical Assistance (TRTA) has agreed to establish a Trade Reference Centre (RC) in St. Vincent and the Grenadines during the last quarter of 2014.
The basic objective of the WTO Reference Centre Programme is to enable Government officials, private sector and academic communities of in SVG to obtain trade-related information resources on the WTO Internet site, in electronic versions on CD-ROMs developed by the WTO, as well as trade-related publications, and to facilitate access and use of E-Learning programmes of the WTO. Particular emphasis will be put on E-Learning as an effective means of preparing Vincentian participants prior to any face-to-face training in line with the new progressive learning strategy adopted by the Institute of Training and Technical Cooperation.
DOMESTIC TRADE AND CONSUMER AFFAIRS DIVISION
The Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Division is the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines central agency for ethical trade practices and the protection of consumers’ interest. The Divisions facilitates the development of commerce through enforcement of trading standards and the protection of consumers by ensuring that goods and services are safe and legal. It also promotes cooperation between the public and private sector, through advocacy initiatives and networking with private sector associations, to increase the competitiveness of businesses in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The division is also mandated to develop a policy framework that takes into account national, regional and global developments, which influence the overall strategy for the development of commerce and industry. In addition, the division is also responsible for the Traders, Import and Export Licensing Regimes, and the administration of Price Control Regime under the Price and Distribution of Goods Act.