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Trade Surplus With Caribbean Expanded in 2014, USTR Finds

Tuesday, January 05, 2016
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

U.S. imports from Caribbean countries continued to decline in 2014 while exports saw a modest rebound, according to a biannual report to Congress on the operation of the U.S. trade preferences for the Central American and Caribbean region (known collectively as the Caribbean Basin Initiative) from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. Highlights of this report include the following.

Imports. The total value of U.S. imports from CBI beneficiary countries in 2014 was $8.2 billion, down 7.7 percent from 2013 following a 24.8 percent plunge from 2012. These declines were mostly due to a sharp decrease in U.S. imports of crude petroleum and refined petroleum products, reflecting falling U.S. consumption coupled with increased U.S. production. The shutdown and maintenance of several refinery plants in Trinidad may also have had an effect.

U.S. imports entering under CBI tariff preferences declined for a third consecutive year in 2014 to $2.0 billion, falling 16.9 percent after a 24.5 percent drop from 2012 to 2013. These declines were partly due to factors such as Panama graduating from CBI in October 2012 and a decline in U.S. imports of crude petroleum and methanol. Of the $2.0 billion in U.S. imports under CBI in 2014, energy products accounted for 62.0 percent, textile and apparel (predominately apparel) 19.8 percent, other mining and manufacturing products 10.7 percent, and agricultural products 7.6 percent.

The leading sources of U.S. imports entering under CBI tariff preferences in 2014 were Trinidad & Tobago (mostly petroleum, petroleum-related products and methanol), Haiti (96 percent apparel), and the Bahamas (which surpassed Jamaica due to a decline in that country’s shipments of fuel ethanol).

The CBI’s share of total U.S. imports was 0.4 percent in 2014 and 2013, but imports under CBI tariff preferences accounted for relatively significant proportions of total U.S. imports from several beneficiary countries.

Exports. The total value of U.S. exports to CBI beneficiary countries was $12.8 billion in 2014, up 2.5 percent from 2013 following a 35.1 percent decline from 2012 due to Panama’s exit from the program. The leading export categories in 2014 included refined petroleum products, rice, chicken cuts, wheat, aircraft and corn.

The CBI’s share of total U.S. exports was 0.9 percent in 2014 and 2013, and the CBI region as a whole ranked as the 23rd largest market for U.S. exports. The Bahamas, Trinidad & Tobago, Jamaica, Aruba and Haiti accounted for more than 76 percent of U.S. exports to the CBI region in 2014.

CBI exporters from certain countries and U.S. companies importing from those countries continue to use the CBTPA provisions extensively.

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