Published On: Mon, Mar 11th, 2013

Timmermans: OCT status has more advantages than disadvantages

Frans TimmermansTHE HAGUE - Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Frans Timmermans is adamant that the Overseas countries and Territories (OCT) status of the Dutch Caribbean in the European Union (EU) has more advantages than disadvantages. The Minister stated in a letter that he sent to the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament on Tuesday that one of the most important advantages is the fact that the EU doesn’t levy import duties on goods from the OCTs. The EU also makes funds available for the development of the OCT economies.

Timmermans referred to a 2008 report of Rotterdam Erasmus University that analysed the advantages and disadvantages of an Ultra Peripheral Territory (UPT) status for the islands and also looked at the differences between an OCT and a UPT status. The Netherlands and the islands are negotiating a new OCT status for the Dutch Caribbean in Brussels, Belgium. The current arrangement lapses at the end of this year.

Member of the Second Chamber Sietse Fritsma had brought up the report in a debate last week. He then pointed out that the OCT status for the islands wasn’t all positive news. He asked the Minister for an explanation. Fritsma submitted a motion during that debate requesting the Dutch Government to stay out of the negotiations with Brussels. According to Fritsma, the EU should stay out of the business of The Netherlands in its relations with its former colonies.

The PVV is of the opinion that the OCT regulation had no value whatsoever for the islands. The motion was rejected by the Second Chamber on Tuesday. Only the PVV and the Socialist Party (SP) voted in favour. The Minister acknowledged that there were some factors that limited the advantages of an OCT status, such as that export from the islands to the EU is limited.

The EU has also reduced its import duties considerably in the past years based on agreements with the World Trade Organisation (WTO). According to Timmermans, the low trade volume from the islands to the EU on its own is no disqualification from the trade regime. “My conclusion remains that the OCT status provides an excellent admittance to the European market. An important argument is that the Kingdom countries have indicated themselves that the OCT status is beneficial for them,” he stated.

Source: Dutch Caribbean Business

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