Public Hearing, Washington DC, USA on CBERA/CBTPA

May 14, 2019

Background

The Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act (CBTPA), under which the United States (U.S.) Government extends unilateral duty free entry into the U.S., on a range of products from CARICOM, expires on 30 September 2020. The World Trade Organisation (WTO) waiver which permits the CBTPA to operate legally under the WTO, expires on 31 December 2019.

Democratic Representative of Alabama, Terri Sewell, introduced in the U.S. Congress in September 2017, a Bill seeking to extend the CBTPA to 30 September 2030. If approved by the U.S. Congress, this legislation would continue to support duty-free access to the U.S. market for a wide range of products from CARICOM.

Introduction

This statement seeks to support the requests from the CARICOM Governments to seek the extension of the CBERA/CBTPA by another ten years to 2030 bearing in mind that this should include a provision to review areas of the legislation that would create an optimization of the relationship.

Underpinning Considerations for the request

The Caribbean Association of Industry and Commerce (CAIC) will be submitting further analyses of the available data within the context of the practical impediments to the trade opportunities that are said to exist. The CAIC proposes that consideration should be given to incorporating a deeper level of discussion and action that takes account of the following:

1) Consideration for the expansion of the beneficiary countries beyond the current eight to include more territories within the “basin”.

2) Consideration for the expansion of the schedule of products given the change in consumption patterns of the US market and the increased diaspora in many US states.

It is also requested that further consideration be given for the expansion, even under UNCPC codes for this to take consideration for the increased output under traditional Agriculture based sectors which have expanded up the value chain and have matured into Agribusinesses that have output that are not listed.

3) Consideration for the inclusion of a chapter to incorporate Caribbean market suppliers who have a niche in Trade in Services and therefore require mechanisms in place for both Modes 3 (commercial presence) and 4 (Temporary Entry of Natural persons). It is recognized that the US has concerns for the breaches arising out of migration and makes the distinction between Mode 4 and the issuance of work permits as two separate matters.

In the area of the temporary entry movement in the Creative sector; an example is that of musicians who go on tour and are restricted, whereas it has been noted that an Artistes revenue mix is on average 84% of earnings whilst on tour.

4) Inclusion of technical and development resources for incorporating Business Continuity Programmes given the vulnerability of the Caribbean to natural disasters and that there exist many outer US territories in the Caribbean Basin

5) Consideration for the inclusion of a private sector representative on the Caribbean – US Trade and Investment Council which will allow for the easy exchange of information and to increase the relations with the Caribbean territories of the US. It is expected that this representative may also be able to stimulate the activity of the Council and thus maintain a level of focus on the opportunities in these relations. This representation would require a level of funding to maintain its sustainable presence, notwithstanding the Governments would continue to maintain their lobbying efforts.

The private sector representative would as well be able to filter practical solutions or at least facilitate other overarching issues such as derisking, blacklisting, and innovation.

6) Consideration for setting up a maritime logistics sub-committee to look at issues surrounding movement within the Caribbean Sea, which affects many states of the US and which are subject to issues of trafficking and coastal erosion. However the increased attention by China, in particular, to capitalize on maritime trade in the region should be managed with our traditional partners first

7) Recognition for the work in renewable energy programming support through the support of the OAS must be acknowledged and the CAIC would ask that further technical support be given to the operations of the Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (CCREEE)

 The CAIC reaffirms its commitment to this process and thanks you for the opportunity to make this input.