Honduras: Optimizing Operations Through Intergovernmental Cooperation and Centrally-Published Information

November 19, 2019 - November 20, 2019

On November 19-20, 2019, CLDP, in collaboration with ITA, CBP, and USDA, conducted a trade facilitation workshop on optimizing operations through intergovernmental cooperation and centrally-published information for more than 70 government officials and private sector representatives in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

Inefficient agency coordination and disjointed publication of information collectively reduce the efficacy and transparency of the regulatory process in Honduras, further engendering distrust between the private and public sectors. To address these areas of need, Commerce conducted a workshop that set forth best practices on optimizing operations through intergovernmental cooperation and centrally-published information.

Honduran government participants included representatives from the Ministries of Customs, Economic Development, Finances, Infrastructure, National Agri-Food Health and Safety Service, and the Health Regulation Agency. They were joined by their counterparts from Guatemalan and Costa Rican Ministries of Economy, Customs, and Agriculture. From the Honduran private sector, the Honduran Council on Private Enterprise, American Chamber of Commerce in Honduras, and the National Federation of Customs Agents participated.

After opening remarks from Honduran Vice President Maria Antonia Rivera and U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission Fernando Cossich, experts showcased best practices for effective coordination among agencies, consolidation of information related to import and export procedures, and uniform publication of information across agency websites. Representatives from the governments of Honduras, Costa Rica, and Guatemala as well as the Honduran private sector each presented their perspectives and plans to continue facilitating trade through enhanced transparency and coordination. The workshop concluded with an interactive case study showcasing the importance of incorporating the private sector and governmental priorities in allocating technical assistance funding.

In preparation for the workshop, the Honduran participants performed internal assessments of their respective ministry’s implementation of the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (WTO TFA) Article 1. Specifically, participants compiled an inventory of current procedures and documents related to TFA Art. 1.1 that can only be found or completed in paper form, current procedures and documents related to Art. 1.1 that can only be found or completed online, and current plans and strategies to publish the procedures, documents, and information related to TFA Art. 1.1 online. In addition, participants examined TFA Art. 8.1, border agency cooperation, and identified the gaps in communication and cooperation between their ministries to support publication of trade information. The Article 1 assessment exercise served as the foundation for Honduras to improve its interagency coordination and create its TFA Art. 1.4 transparency notification, which outlines the official sites where trade-related information is published. The Honduran government presented the final notification at the workshop and plans to submit the notification to the WTO in the coming weeks.

As a result of this workshop, the Honduran government has improved its interagency coordination and increased its understanding of the importance of publishing trade-related information in a non-discriminatory, easy to access manner. This workshop is part of a multiphase effort to promote transparency, cooperation, and coordination for the Honduran government, and to improve interregional trade in Central America.