The United States and the Caribbean Community are pleased to release the following Joint Statement, which outlines the overall results of the March 31, 2012 meeting of the Trade and Investment Council (TIC) in Georgetown, Guyana.
Today we met to review the strong and important trading and economic relationship between the Member States of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the United States. Over the last three years, bilateral trade between us has grown from $15.7 to $21.8 billion, an increase of 39 percent. The benefits of expanding trade have flowed to businesses, farmers, workers, and consumers.
As noted by our leaders at the fifth Summit of the Americas, we recognize the “positive contribution of trade among our nations to the promotion of growth, employment and development.” We approved a new action agenda which outlines our priorities and which will guide our efforts to strengthen and deepen our trading relationship.
Since 1983, the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) has granted unilateral duty-free treatment for imports of certain eligible articles from CBI beneficiary countries. We discussed the operation of the CBI and how to better take advantage of the opportunities available under that initiative. Currently 17 countries and dependent territories receive benefits under the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act (CBERA). Seven of these countries and dependent territories receive benefits under the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act (CBTPA). Today the United States agreed that upon request, it would begin a process to consider granting unilateral trade benefits under the CBTPA for Caribbean Basin countries and dependent territories that currently do not receive those benefits.
We shared ideas about ways to provide more opportunities for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). One new source of assistance and interactive information exchange for SMEs is SBDCGlobal.com. This website is currently being used by SMEs in the United States and other countries in the hemisphere. We instructed our officials to work with CARICOM Member States to identify ways to bring additional SMEs into the SBDCGlobal.com web site.
We discussed the work to replace the 1991 Agreement Establishing a Trade and Investment Council with a 21st century Trade and Investment Framework Agreement. We took note of each others’ concerns and agreed to try to complete the negotiations as soon as possible.
Finally, we agreed that the United States will host the next meeting of the Trade and Investment Council in 2013.