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Caribbean Trade Preference Benefits Increased in 2010, USTR Finds

Thursday, December 22, 2011
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has issued its ninth report to Congress on the operation of the Caribbean Basin Initiative, which currently provides 17 countries and dependent territories with duty-free access to the U.S. market for most goods. The report’s findings include the following.

• The value of U.S. imports from CBI countries in 2010 was $10.1 billion, an increase of $700 million from 2009 but a drop from $19.5 billion in 2008. Costa Rica’s loss of beneficiary status in 2009 accounted for $3.9 billion of the $10.1 billion decline. The CBI’s share of total U.S. imports was 0.5% in 2010, a slight decrease from 0.6% in the previous year.

• The total value of U.S. exports to CBI beneficiary countries in 2010 was $18.5 billion, an increase from $14.5 billion in 2009 but a decline from $23.5 billion in 2008. The CBI’s share of total U.S. exports was 1.6% in 2010, up from 1.5% in the previous year. Panama, the Bahamas, the Netherlands Antilles, and Trinidad and Tobago accounted for 72% of U.S. exports to the CBI region in 2010. The CBI region as a whole ranked as the 18th largest market for U.S. exports.

• Trinidad and Tobago was the leading source of U.S. imports entering under CBI tariff preferences in 2010 with $2.2 billion, an increase of 43.8% from 2009. Haiti is the second leading source of such imports and mostly ships apparel. The Bahamas replaced Jamaica as the third leading source in 2010 as imports of fuel ethanol and apparel from Jamaica declined precipitously.

• The U.S. continues to have a small amount of bilateral trade with many Caribbean economies. While the overall value of imports is small, imports under CBI tariff preferences account for relatively significant proportions of total U.S. imports from these countries. Cane sugar, non-monetary gold, orange juice, papayas and electrical machinery are some of the leading categories of CBI imports from the smaller Caribbean economies.

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