Caribbean countries encouraged to use UN programme to help firms cut through red tape

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad — A major regional body, the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) on Monday encouraged its member countries to adopt a United Nations programme that would help them streamline trade and increase transparency in business procedures.

The eRegulations programme, produced by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), provides step-by-step information on how to carry out government administrative procedures. For example, for entrepreneurs it simplifies business procedures such as registering companies, obtaining visas and licenses, and importing and exporting.

According to a news release issued by UNCTAD, during its annual meeting, the ACS called on countries to implement the programme, given the positive results it has yielded for the six member countries that have already adopted it: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama.

In El Salvador, the programme has helped reduce obstacles to trade by allowing entrepreneurs to register their businesses through an online system, which was implemented with the help of UNCTAD.

In Nicaragua, the number of steps companies had to go through to obtain sanitary and security certificates was cut from 39 to four, and the number of days needed to carry out the procedure was reduced, from 12 – 49 days to 2 – 7 days.

UNCTAD noted that a presentation of the programme’s results during the ACS meeting raised enthusiasm among the 22 countries that have not yet adopted it, and led to its inclusion in the ACS action plan.

“Often, the results surprise government officials: they find out that procedures are more lengthy and complicated than they thought, involve numerous government departments, have redundant or unlawful demands, and mean so much time and confusion that entrepreneurs grow discouraged and operate their businesses informally rather than following the rules,” UNCTAD stated.

To date, the eRegulations system has been introduced in 20 countries and four cities around the world. Some 22 other countries have officially requested its implementation.

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