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GDPR – Are you ready?

GDPR –

Are you ready?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into effect May 25, 2018.  It aims to create more consistent protection of consumer and personal data across the 28 member states of the European Union. It also standardizes the treatment of data and the penalties for non-compliance when processing personally identifiable information (PII). It will forever change the way data is collected and managed.

Who is impacted?

All entities (companies, government agencies, non-profits, associations and organizations) that hold and process personal data for residents of the European Union. Geographic location is not an exclusive factor. As long as you offer goods or services within the EU; and if you monitor the behavior of EU residents in any way, you are required to comply with the GDPR.

The maximum fine for non-compliance is 20 million euros. Fines can be imposed for: not having records in order; failure to notify the authority about a breach; or for failing to conduct an impact assessment.

Becoming Compliant

The United Kingdom’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has published a guide to the GDPR. The Guide covers a number of related subject areas but also contains tips on Steps to Take Now and a Data Protection Self Assessment Toolkit.

It is important to note that the matter of compliance is not restricted to the work done by the company’s IT team. The legislation impacts Marketing and Accounting as well. It requires a top-down organizational change; a full commitment for effectiveness. As such, many institutions have created useful guides from Readiness Checklists and help to understand the changing roles for Board Directors. Service providers such as Microsoft have also stepped up to the line and provided resources to help.

CARIFORUM-EU EPA

In 2008, the European Union (EU) signed an economic partnership agreement with the countries of the CARIFORUM. The Agreement, known to the Caribbean as the CARIFORUM-EU-EPA is a reciprocal arrangement that allows CARIFORUM States to benefit from trading in the European Union. To date, the main exports from the Caribbean to the European Union are fuel, mining products, petroleum, bananas, rum and minerals. The main exports from the EU into the Caribbean are marine vessels, vehicles, engine parts, telephone equipment and dairy products.

The Agreement however, embraces both goods and services. In fact, there are no restrictions on legally tradable products or services. Different to its predecessor (the Cotonou Agreement), and other Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), this Agreement provides development aid that will facilitate the establishment of trade relations.

This means that companies that did not formerly do business with the EU, can consider new market opportunities through the Agreement. Better still, the Direct Grant Assistance Scheme offered through Caribbean Export, provides financial support for qualifying applicants.  Learn more.

Trade Impact – St. Kitts & Nevis Perspective

Trade Impact!

Whether we are talking about Brexit, Trump’s strategies to “Make America Great Again”, or bilateral arrangements with another Caribbean or international country, the impact of trade agreements on the smaller islands of the Caribbean is significant and require special attention if we are to achieve any benefits.

When you take into consideration the fact that many of our indigenous products are manufactured on very small scales, making regional trade somewhat redundant, and the fact that trade liberalization came into full force on February 22nd, 2017 – all this while we are still trying to figure out how to benefit from the Cariforum Economic Partnership Agreement, and completing the Brazil Partial Scope Agreement, trade seems arduous at best.

Taking our eyes off the ball can be costly!  Recently a petition for the US Border Wall was filed which, had it been successful would have increased operating costs for the manufacturing sector which provides 10 per cent of the jobs across the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis.  What does the US Border Wall have to do with us?  That is a question we are still asking.  Somehow, a US Senator thought it would make sense to have Caribbean islands contribute to the cost of the wall by paying a 2 per cent fee on remittances from the United States.  Every time a relative, corporate headquarters or customers transfers money from the United States to St. Kitts and Nevis, they would incur a 2 per cent fee.  Less than 1 per cent of the estimated 43.7 million persons making up the population of the Caribbean would ever travel to Mexico and less than that would ever see this wall if it is built.  Of all the Caribbean persons living in the United States, however they got there, it is very unlikely that they crossed the border from Mexico to the US.

This was only one of several attempts to disrupt trade relations involving the Caribbean, a situation which clearly indicates that trade experts in the region need to pay attention to what is happening with all countries with whom we enjoy trade relations.

St. Kitts and Nevis has benefited from the Caribbean Basin Initiative upon which it established the enclave sector. In 2000, this bill was expanded into the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Agreement (CBPTA) which expanded trade opportunities for the Caribbean. Since many of the manufacturing entities across both islands are micro enterprises and without the support of an export agency that can provide advice on how to utilize these agreements the benefits of the CBPTA has yet to be utilized by St. Kitts and Nevis.  It is set to expire in 2020.

The CBPTA is not the only agreement to which we need to pay attention, as the requirements of the “rules of origin” for all trade agreements provide options that enable us to qualify for the benefits and also challenges restricting us from achieving qualifying targets.

Other trade arrangements such as the Common External Tariff (CET) that provides protection for trade across the region, is another agreement to which we have signed on, and application of the rules has proven to be challenging as we grapple with the need to improve national livelihoods as our first priority before any allegiance paid to regional trade regimes.

Trade Agreements, therefore, are not just for manufacturing entities.  They impact many other sectors both directly (such as shipping agents and banks) and indirectly (such as retail stores).  Understanding how to maximize these agreements is important to all of