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Fourth Report to Congress on the Operation of The Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act

Prepared by the Office of the United States Trade Representatives
December 31 2001

The document is in (PDF) format. If you do not have Acrobat Reader you can download from here.



The trade programs known collectively as the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) remain a vital element in the United States’ economic relations with its neighbors in Central America and the Caribbean. The CBI is intended to facilitate the economic development and export diversification of the Caribbean Basin economies. Initially launched in 1983 through the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act (CBERA), and substantially expanded in 2000 through the U.S.-Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act (CBTPA), the CBI currently provides 24 beneficiary countries with duty-free access to the U.S. market for most goods.

The CBI was initially envisioned as a program to facilitate the economic development and export diversification of the Caribbean Basin economies. During the nearly two decades since its inception, however, it has become clear that the CBI represents important benefits for the United States, as well as beneficiary countries. U.S. exports to the CBI region more than tripled between 1983 and 2000, totaling $20.7 billion in 2000. Collectively, the CBI countries rank ninth among U.S. market export destinations, ahead of countries such as France, Singapore, and the Netherlands. Consistent U.S. trade surpluses with the region from 1987 to 1998 reverted to deficits of $335.2 million and $1.4 billion in 1999 and 2000, respectively.

CBI benefits are conditioned on compliance with a series of legislated eligibility criteria. These eligibility factors, and the performance of CBI beneficiary countries in addressing them, are discussed in detail in Chapter 3. The Administration conducted an extensive review of all 24 CBI beneficiary countries in mid-2000, in connection with implementation of the CBTPA, which reflected a revised set of eligibility criteria as conditions for receiving enhanced trade benefits. This review process provided an important opportunity to engage with CBI trading partners to advance the U.S. policy objectives reflected as eligibility factors.

Enactment of the CBTPA in May 2000 represented a vital reinforcement of the United States’ commitment to vigorous economic engagement with its Caribbean Basin neighbors. This report, coming just over one year after the CBTPA was implemented, provides an important opportunity to evaluate the initial impact of this latest expansion of CBI trade preferences. It is clear that the new preference provisions, including the expanded benefits for apparel, are being actively utilized by beneficiary countries and U.S. industries. At the same time, and as reflected in a number of public comments submitted in connection with preparation of this report, it is apparent that implementation of the CBTPA has been characterized by unforeseen challenges, particularly with respect to the application of certain statutory provisions in the technical rules governing imports under the new preferences. The Administration will continue to work with Congress, the private sector, CBI beneficiary countries, and other interested parties to ensure a faithful and effective implementation of this important expansion of trade benefits.


January 07, 2001

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