Media Center

Press Release


  January 29, 2008

Testifying at a public hearing of the United States International Trade Commission today, Secretary General José Miguel Insulza argued that the Organization of American States (OAS) supports renewal of the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act (CBTPA) of 2000 because expiry of the trade access would have “an extremely deleterious effect” on Caribbean economies. The CBTPA expires in September this year.

“The OAS would support the renewal and extension of the CBTPA in order to lock in the continued benefits to those countries presently reaping strategic economic and political benefits within the present construct,” the Secretary General declared at the Washington hearing on “Caribbean Region: Review of Economic Growth and Development.” US International Trade Commission Chairman Daniel R. Pearson presided, with several Caribbean ambassadors, representatives of international organizations and trade experts attending, some of them testifying.

Noting economic vulnerabilities and other constraints many beneficiary countries face, Insulza said the current arrangement should be expanded “to address those areas which play a central role in the majority of the CARICOM countries,” notably trade in services “which has enormous potential for the region’s growth and economic transformation.” Financial services provisions should be included as well, given the important role of remittances, he said, pointing to the infinite possibilities.

“An expanded CBTPA could provide for the establishment of local banks within the US, which is the main gateway for these transmissions, to accept deposits and make the transfers back to their home countries,” the Secretary General asserted. “This mechanism would strengthen the capital base of these banks and also expand the ability of local banking institutions to provide sorely needed funding for investment and entrepreneurial development.”

The OAS Secretary General also spoke about the Andean Trade Preference Act (ATPA) and the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA), the latter given an eight-month extension last year. Emphasizing their importance to beneficiary countries, Insulza hailed the trade promotion agreements and the ATPDEA as “tangible expressions of the commitment of the United States to promoting growth, stability and democracy in the Americas.”

Several CARICOM ambassadors testified at today’s hearing, addressing the trade, investment and other challenges specific to their respective countries. They included Ambassador Michael King of Barbados; St. Kitts and Nevis Ambassador Izben Williams; Trinidad and Tobago Ambassador Marina Valere; and Haiti’s Ambassador to the USA, Raymond Joseph. Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Assistant Secretary General for Trade and Economic Integration, Irwin LaRocque, argued the case for enhanced CARICOM/US trade to be placed on a permanent and more predictable basis.

Today’s hearings—which included a question-and-answer session—were intended to help inform recommendations from the International Trade Commission to Chairman Charles Rangel of the Ways and Means Committee of the US House of Representatives, on the possible extension of the CBTPA and on ways that U.S. trade policy can be most beneficial to Caribbean Basin countries.

Reference: E-016/08