Antigua urges US to grant Caricom extension to Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act

Antigua urges US to grant Caricom extension to Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act

Friday, May 17, 2019

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WASHINGTON, United States (CMC) – Antigua and Barbuda is urging the United States to grant an extension of a waiver allowing Caribbean Community (Caricom) to continue to benefit from the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act (CBERA).

The island's Ambassador to the United States, Sir Ronald Sanders, outlined the position as he testified before the US International Trade Commission which is conducting an investigation into the impact on US industries, persons and the US economy of CBERA that was enacted in 1983.

CBERA is part of the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI), launched by then US President Ronald Reagan and kept in place by successive administrations in Washington.

Sanders said that CBERA and the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act (CBTPA) which grants preferential access for Caribbean exports to the US market, is only possible because of a waiver from the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The waiver expires at the end on December 31, this year.

The Antigua and Barbuda diplomat told the Commission that, over the years, the US has benefited more from the existing trade arrangements than the 17 Caribbean countries for whom benefits were intended.

He said that the US has enjoyed years of trade surpluses with the Caribbean countries. In 2018, the US benefitted by a surplus of US$12 billion.

But Sir Ronald said despite this, seven Caricom countries that are the principal beneficiaries of CBERA “would face serious financial challenges if they were to lose the preferential access from which they now gain.

“The resultant weakening of the economies of these countries would have a harmful effect on the region by spill-over effects into neighbouring states, including the US”, he said, calling also for CBERA benefits to be applied to trade in services.

He told the Commission that the economies of most of the CBERA countries are services-based, accounting for more than 75 per cent of employment and 66 per cent of total output.

“Based on the inter-relationship between US and Caribbean industries, including banking, tourism, air and maritime transport, accountancy and auditing, health and education, a relationship could be developed exponentially, creating new jobs, new sources of revenue and increasing opportunities for prosperity,” he added.

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