Chamber of Commerce to hold second ‘Trade Talk’ on Thursday to help membership streamline the cost of doing business

Through dialogue and other initiatives, the Antigua and Barbuda Chamber of Commerce is hoping to assist its membership to streamline the cost of doing business, which can be very expensive.

Martin Cave, executive director of the Chamber, says the telecommunications sector is one area that can prove challenging since the playing field is not level.

Through an initiative dubbed “Trade Talk Part 1,” which was held in November 2022, the Chamber was able to address, in part, some of the concerns of its membership; and a committee has been put in place to bring about some leveling in this sector.

Taxes are another concern for the Chamber – in particular the Unincorporated Business Tax, which, essentially, is an income tax on business operators. Cave says that discussions were also held on this last year.

He notes that there are some issues with the tax laws that the membership finds not to be fair, and these will be addressed again this year.

Trade is another issue that will be discussed, since “Trade Talk Part 1” dealt with Customs charges and the procedures through which the comptroller applies them.

The ASYCUDA System was also examined, as well as the rates applied to incoming goods and the trade-facilitation aspect of the Customs Department’s work.

Cave says one of the things the membership learned from Comptroller Raju Boddu is that there is a single-window facility that is not being optimized.

The Chamber has been given an undertaking, by Boddu, that the Customs Department will work with it to ensure the facilitation process is up and running.

According to Cave, further talks will be held on Thursday, January 26, to look at the port, itself, and its procedures.  Questions can be directed to Port Manager Darwin Telemaque, who will be in attendance, the director says.

Cave says there are situations where goods are being kept by shippers at a transit point and then make their way to Antigua, racking up exorbitant charges.  

Addressing how this problem can be handled and how the containers are unstuffed are among other issues that affect the cost of doing business, he notes, and so they are on the agenda.

The executive director says that a third Trade Talk is being planned for the next few months and will look at the transportation of goods.