On September 30, 2021, the United States International Trade Commission (USITC) released its latest report on the operation of the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act (CBERA) and its impact on US industries, consumers and on beneficiary countries. Enacted in 1983 and made effective in 1984, the CBERA is one of the constituent acts under the Caribbean Basin Initiative. The CBERA allows the US President to extend to designated beneficiary countries in the Caribbean Basin non-reciprocal and unilateral duty-free or reduced duty access to the US market for a wide range of goods. The CBERA is of indefinite duration in that it has no statutory end date unlike, for instance, the other Acts. The Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act (CBTPA) of 2000 extended preferential treatment to textiles and apparels and was most recently renewed in October 2020 until 2030.
The 17 CBERA beneficiaries in 2020 were as follows: Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, British Virgin
Islands, Curaçao, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago. CBTPA beneficiaries (8) in 2020: Barbados, Belize, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, and Trinidad and Tobago. The Haiti Economic Lift Program (HELP) Act of 2010 and Haiti Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement Act of 2006 and of 2008 (HOPE I & II) provide special preferences for Haiti and were extended in 2015 until 2025.
The latest CBERA report found that “the impact of the CBERA program on the US economy and industries continued to be small in 2019 and 2020”, which it attributed to the fact that “the value of US imports under the CBERA preference program are a
small share of total US imports”. Turning to the future effect of the CBERA program on the US economy, including on U.S. domestic industries and US consumers, the report found that the effect ” is likely to remain minimal for most products, given the relatively small volume of imports from CBERA countries that is unlikely to grow substantially”.
The report highlighted that the top US imports under the CBERA were petroleum oils, methanol, T-shirts of cotton, sweaters of manmade fibers, and polystyrene. The five largest CBERA exporting countries over the reporting period were Trinidad & Tobago, Haiti, Guyana, Jamaica and the Bahamas. However, Haiti, Barbados and Grenada were the beneficiary countries with the highest utilisation rate (94.7%) of the programme. It is noteworthy that Barbados moved from a utilization rate of just 38.2% in 2016 (one of the lowest) to a utilization rate of 94.7% in 2020. US imports under CBERA as a share of total US imports for consumption remained small (only 0.07% in 2020), while US imports from beneficiaries that receive program preferences as a share of total US imports from beneficiary countries were 33.8% in that same year.
The report may be accessed here.
Alicia Nicholls, B.Sc., M.Sc., LL.B. is a trade and development consultant with a keen interest in sustainable development, international law and trade. All views herein expressed are her personal views and should not be attributed to any institution with which she may from time to time be affiliated. You can read more of her commentaries and follow her on Twitter @LicyLaw.