April 11, 2003
COMMITTEE OF GOVERNMENT REPRESENTATIVES ON THE PARTICIPATION OF
OPEN INVITATION CONTRIBUTIONS
George Keller President
Customs Advisory Services, Inc
The objectives of the agreement are to promote trade liberalization and
promote economic growth and prosperity within the region. Additionally,
the agreement is to generate increased levels of trade in goods,
services and investment by means of market liberalization through clear,
transparent and predicable trade rules. I applaud the committee’s
efforts to attempt to promote these objectives. I believe the current
trade agreement; however, does not promote nor encourage trade directly
among members of the territories but will afford extensive duty-free
treatment of goods and services by parties who will not be signatories
to the agreement. The rules of origin as proposed in the agreement are
so broad that I do not know of any good assembled or produced in the
region that will not qualify for preferential treatment. The rules of
origin will permit parties outside the limitations to sign certificates
of origin. Additionally, pricing arrangements for goods assembled or
produced in the territories can be sold by enterprises outside the
territories with high intercompany prices that will afford the products
to be eligible for preferential treatment when in reality very little
value added has been incurred in the territories. The agreement should
promote extensive use of raw materials grown or produced within the
territories if preferential treatment is to be granted to the article.
Additionally, specific rules of origin should be developed for
agricultural products that are mixed or processed in one country from
agricultural products of multiple countries within the territory. The
blending of these materials often still results in an unfinished article
for which no tariff change has resulted. However, as the article is now
a combination of raw materials from multiple countries, how will the
country of origin for the article be determined?
The agreement should seek to promote expansion of international business
activity for small and minority enterprises within the territories.
These companies historically create the majority of most new jobs in
most economies and the agreement as proposed neither promotes nor faster
expansion of international trade for these types of enterprises.
Futhermore, clarification is mandatory for which small economies are to
be afforded special and differential treatment under the agreement.
While this goal is admirable, lowering of the special and differential
treatment to small and minority enterprises could significantly lend
support to accomplishment of the agreements objectives.
Finally, the agreement should promote an efficient and expeditions
method for dispute settlement so small and minority enterprises and
small economies will not be unfairly punished through extended
administrative and judicial process that are not affordable to them. The
process of dispute settlement in most major trade agreements works
against small and minority enterprises and smaller economies and this
methodology must be avoided if the objectives of the FTAA are to be