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Jamaica Not Maximizing Caribbean Basin Initiative

Published:Friday | April 17, 2015 | 4:49 PM
File Arnold J. Nicholson, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade.

As Jamaica begins to look for the tangible benefits from the visit of United States (US) President Barack Obama, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade A.J. Nicholson is urging the private sector to take advantage of the facilities provided by the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI).

Speaking at a Jamaica House press briefing on Thursday, to provide updates on the bilateral talks between the US and

the Government of Jamaica, Nicholson dismissed as erroneous comments being made, which indicate that the CBI has gone off the US radar.

"In the president's trade agenda for 2015, the CBI is sighted as the vehicle for trade and investment with Caribbean countries, so perish the thought that it is not important to the US," he said.

Nicholson went on to explain that Jamaican exporters have not made sufficient use of the duty-free arrangements under the trade agreements of CBI.

"Jamaica has not made optimum use of the duty-free access under the CBI over the last 32 years, and there is now a proposal to have trade in services covered by the CBI, but that is a private-sector initiative, so we need the private sector to step up to the plate," he added.

Nicholson told journalists that the US Embassy has taken steps to deal with the underutilisation of the CBI by Jamaican exporters.

"In June of last year, the embassy sponsored Andrea Ewart, an international trade lawyer and trade consultant, to host several workshops to inform exporters of how the arrangements work."

The Caribbean Basin Initiative is a unilateral programme started by the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act passed in the United States congress. The initiative was made permanent through CBI II and expanded in 2000 through the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act. The CBI is the only permanent preference programme between the United States and any other country. Through the CBI, more than 75 per cent of Jamaica's trade enters the United States duty free.