USTR: Caribbean Basin Initiative Report


The Office of the United States Trade Representative has released the Fifteenth Biennial Report on the Operation of the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act (CBERA).

On a biennial basis, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) is required to submit a report to Congress regarding the results of the general review of CBI beneficiary countries and their performance under the CBI eligibility criteria.

The U.S. trade preferences programs for the Caribbean and Central American region were launched in 1983 by the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act (CBERA) and are known collectively as the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI).

USDA Caribbean Basin Exporter Guide January 4, 2024 [link]

Duty Free Access to US Markets

As of 2023, the CBI provides 17 countries and dependent territories with duty-free access to the U.S. market for most goods.  

Petroleum products, methanol, and apparel (mainly t-shirts and sweaters) were the primary products imported by the United States from CBI countries. The combined share of these products in the total U.S. imports under CBI preferences, including the HOPE Acts, remained close to 85 percent in 2022.

In 2022, CBI beneficiary countries supplied $11.6 billion of U.S. imports, ranking 26th among U.S. import suppliers. U.S. imports from CBI beneficiaries steadily grew from $5.1 billion in 2020 to $8.7 billion in 2021 and $11.6 billion in 2022, which represented an increase of 70.5 percent and 33.7 percent, respectively. This is largely attributed to economic recovery following the height of the COVID- 19 pandemic.

U.S. imports under the CBI tariff preferences increased to $1.9 billion in 2022, from $1.4 billion in 2021 and $1.2 billion in 2020. The increase in 2022, 34.0 percent, was preceded by an increase of 16.7 percent in 2021. The rise in 2022 was primarily driven by a higher value of U.S. imports of petroleum products—from Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Jamaica, and Curaçao—achieving $940.2 million in 2022, up from $547.4 million in 2020 or an increase of 71.7 percent.

U.S. Exports

U.S. export growth to the region has been a corollary benefit of the CBI throughout the history of the program. During the 2020-2021 reporting period however, decreases in U.S. exports were likely due to disruptions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Exports then rebounded significantly in 2022.

The value of total U.S. exports to CBI countries amounted to $18.4 billion, a 43.6 percent increase from the previous year. In 2021, U.S. exports were $12.8 billion, a 15.1 percent increase from 2020.

Collectively, the CBI region ranked 21st among U.S. export destinations in 2022 and absorbed 1.1 percent of total U.S. exports to the world. U.S. total goods trade (domestic exports plus imports for consumption) with the CBI countries was $30.0 billion in 2022. The U.S. goods trade surplus with the CBI countries reached $6.8 billion in 2022.

Although the effect of the CBI program on the U.S. economy generally was negligible during the 2021-2022 reporting period, the CBI continues to have a positive impact on a number of Caribbean Basin economies.

When including the HOPE Acts, Haiti has been the largest beneficiary of CBI trade preferences in recent years. The CBI also has encouraged the development of niche product manufacturing in several other countries, such as polystyrene from The Bahamas and fruit juice from Belize.

The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) engages with CBI beneficiary trading partners under the CBI framework and the United States-Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA). Along with inter-agency partners,  In 2023, USTR and CARICOM held a Trade and Investment Council meeting in Georgetown, Guyana, during which they reaffirmed the importance of the bilateral trade and economic relationship.

Tax Benefits

U.S. taxpayers can deduct legitimate business expenses incurred in attending a business meeting or convention in a qualifying CBERA beneficiary country, or Bermuda, without regard to the more stringent requirements usually applied to foreign convention expenses.

Other CBI Reports

In addition to this biennial USTR Report on the general operation of the CBERA and compliance with eligibility criteria, the CBERA and other trade preference legislation require the following reports.

  • USITC Economic Effects Report: Section 215 of the CBERA requires the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) to report biennially to the Congress with an assessment of the actual and probable future effects of the CBERA on the U.S. economy generally, on U.S. consumers, and on U.S. industries.
  • Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor Report: The Trade and Development Act of 2000 (TDA) requires mandates that the President submit annually to the United States Congress the Secretary of Labor’s findings with respect to each “beneficiary country’s implementation of its international commitments to eliminate the worst forms of child labor.”

Anti-Dumping Provisions

Under U.S. antidumping and countervailing duty laws, imports from two or more countries subject to investigation may be aggregated, or “cumulated,” for the purpose of determining whether the unfair trade practice causes material injury to a U.S. industry. The 1990 amendments to the CBERA created an exception to this general cumulation rule for imports from CBI beneficiary countries. If imports from a CBI country are under investigation in an anti- dumping or countervailing duty case, imports from that country may not be aggregated with imports from non-CBI countries under investigation for purposes of determining whether the imports from the CBI country are causing, or threatening to cause, material injury to a U.S. industry. They may, however, be aggregated with imports from other CBI countries under investigation.

 [USTR Report]


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