SIECA is responsible for promoting efforts to gradually achieve the economic union of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Panamá. The Secretariat promotes economic and sustainable development, aiming for the transformation and modernization of its structures, the rise of its competitiveness and the insertion of Central America in the world´s economy.
SIECA was established following the signing of the General Treaty for Central American Economic Integration in 1960. It is responsible for ensuring the correct application of the legal instruments for the regional economic integration. SIECA is the secretariat of the Council of Ministers of Economic Integration (COMIECO) and the Council of Ministers for Transportation (COMITRAN).
To ensure the progress in economic integration, SIECA works in the following areas:
- The establishment of the Central American Customs Union
- Trade facilitation
- Boost of trade liberalization opportunities
- Improvement of regional competitiveness
- The effective incorporation of Panama to the Economic Integration Subsystem
- Implementation of regional comments of the Association Agreement between Central America and the European Union
- Building and strengthening institutional capacities and transparency
Among the trade facilitation area, the Secretariat assists its Members in the implementation of the Central American Strategy for Trade Facilitation and Competitiveness.
Central American Strategy for Trade Facilitation and Competitiveness
In October, 2015 the Central American Strategy for Trade Facilitation and competitiveness was approved by the Council of Ministers of Economic Integration (COMIECO). This regional effort derives from a mandate of the Summit of Central American Presidents, which recognizes the positive impact of trade facilitation.
Through the Mandate of Punta Cana, the Central American Presidents instructed “the Council of Ministers of Economic Integration to adopt and implement a Central American Strategy for Trade Facilitation and Competitiveness emphasizing the Coordinated Border Management, in coordination with sectoral councils and competent authorities"
Contents of the Strategy:
- A model of Coordinated Border Management for Central America.
- Five priority measures
- Elements for an Action Plan in the medium and long term
- Monitoring and evaluation indicators
- Coordination schemes
1. Coordinated Border Management
Coordinated Border Management (CBM) aims to promote coordination of public sector agencies and the private sector to improve procedures for tax collection, control and security in points of entry (border crossings, ports, and airports) and facilitate the transit of goods and people, in a framework supportive of efficacy in control and efficiency in the use of resources.
The Coordinated Border Management also includes a series of crosscutting issues:
- Central American Digital Trade Platform: SIECA is working on the implementation of the Digital Platform, which is divided into 3 phases.
- Pairs of countries and pairs of borders model: each border has its own characteristics and particularities.
- National Trade Facilitation Committees: The Trade Facilitation Agreement of the WTO mandates the incorporation of this Committees, in order to manage and monitor the improvements of trade facilitation and compliance with the Agreement.
2. The five priority measures are:
- Advanced transmission of documents for cargo
- Single conduction of migration control in country of departure
- Electronic system for the emission and transmission of Phyto and zoo sanitary certificates
- Registry of cargo units with Radio Frequency (RFID) devices
- Installation of cameras in border crossings
3. The medium and long term measures are:
- Adoption of international standards
- Information interoperability
- Comprehensive regional risk management
- Authorized Economic Operators
- Quarantine control
- Integration of procedures and control
- Infrastructure and equipment
- Border community and security
4. Monitoring and evaluation indicator
Central American countries will define mechanisms to monitor and evaluate actions to advance in the objectives of the Strategy. This will include products and results to achieve.
5. Coordination Schemes:
In the region
- National: coordination between border control agencies and with the National Trade Facilitation Committees
- Binational: Interinstitutional coordination to communicate and establish the scope and schedule for the implementation of reforms
- Regional: coordination with other Councils of Ministers
- Annual coordination meeting of donors organized by SIECA to:
- Update the inventory of projects, their timeframes and advances (Aid for Trade Programme)
- Identifying existing gaps in financing and support for said projects