Has the Caribbean Basin Initiative Outlived its Usefulness to CARICOM Countries?

The following extracted from the Caribbean Trade Law and Development
website hosted […]by Alicia Nichollswhose content is focused on Trade law, development and policy through a Caribbean lens.


CaribbeanAlicia Nicholls This September the United States International Trade Commission (USITC) released its biennial report on the operation of the Caribbean Basin Economic and Recovery Act (CBERA),

one of the components of the Caribbean Basin Initiative under which CARICOM countries currently enjoy non-reciprocal, preferential access to the US market for most merchandise exports. Three years […]

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26 Comments on “Has the Caribbean Basin Initiative Outlived its Usefulness to CARICOM Countries?”

  1. David November 15, 2015 at 6:57 AM #

    Alicia please remind us why Barbados is not part of this group again? Why do some of us get the clear sense these agreements are not being taken full advantage of? Are our respective governments lobbying with sufficient intensity? Should we be measuring the performance of our Foreign Ministers in the region on the extent they increase access/penetration in the US market?

    The only CARICOM countries currently eligible for benefits under the US GSP are Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Montserrat, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, Suriname, St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Eligibility of a country for beneficiary status is subject to both economic and political considerations. Among other things, the US President is prohibited by statute from designating any communist countries (with exceptions) or countries which have expropriated, imposed taxes or other measures on US property as GSP beneficiaries.


  2. caribbeantradelaw November 15, 2015 at 8:06 AM #

    @ Hey David, very good points/questions. Barbados got graduated from the GSP (in 2006 I think) because of our ‘level of development’. To me, that makes no sense because up until as recently as 2014 Russia was a beneficiary of the US GSP until they too were finally graduated. Fortunately our exports are still eligible under CBI which has more favourable rules of origin and product coverage than GSP. I too often wonder if exporters in Barbados and in the region know enough about the programmes to take full advantage of them. To answer your question re lobbying, I do not think we as CARICOM lobby as a cohesive group. Recall as recently as this year Minister Donville Inniss lamented the lack of support Barbados was getting from other CARICOM states in trying to lobby the US on the rum issue. We can make excuses until the cows come home but if we are not prepared to support each other and use our collective voices to lobby for our region’s interest, then what’s the point of CARICOM?


  3. David November 15, 2015 at 9:01 AM #

    Thanks Alicia, it seems all so hopeless sometimes. Not too long ago we had to endure Minister Inniss expressing frustration at COTE and the issue with exporting local beer to St. Lucia. Then there is EU Cariforum and the inability to leverage and close similar agreements with other jurisdictions.What is clear, as you suggest, is that we have to see the benefit in approaching these issues as a collective. Would like to do a scorecard on the performance of the RNM.


  4. David November 15, 2015 at 9:16 PM #


    41st COTED Meeting in Georgetown Concludes

    by caribbeantradelaw

    Alicia Nicholls The CARICOM Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) concluded its 41st meeting in Georgetown, Guyana last Friday, November 13. The two-day meeting was preceded by a special session with the Region’s private sector on Thursday, with representation from a cross-section of regional private sector associations, including the West Indies Rum and Spirits Association […]

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  5. Gabriel November 15, 2015 at 9:31 PM #

    The Provincial Synod of the Anglican Church in the Province of the West Indies is currently meeting in Barbados.I find it puzzling that this group,the equivalent of the Parliament of the Anglican church headed by the equivalent of a Prime Minister in the person of the Archbishop of the West Indies, a Barbadian,remains an influential body of law makers in matters ecclesiastical and we have the political equivalent in total disarray fighting among themselves to gain acceptance on the world stage,demanding
    not commanding,respect.Bloody clowns.Wunna got sense?Caricom,a talk shop with dangerous demagogues like the coolie canecutter Bharrat Jagdeo,a racist swine,who should be in prison along with Rohee,Romotar,Nandlall,Persaud and all the odder PPP thieves.


  6. caribbeantradelaw November 16, 2015 at 6:08 PM #

    @ David

    I think you would find David Jessop’s most recent commentary quite interesting as he touches on the fragmentation in CARICOM which the comment above by Gabriel eludes to. It really makes one question whether our leaders are still committed to the regional integration process and whether there is still relevance to CARICOM yet another one of the tenets of the CARICOM project, i.e. foreign policy coordination, is fraying at the seams. http://www.caribbean-council.org/drivers-regions-future/ Looking forward to your thoughts!


  7. David November 16, 2015 at 7:27 PM #


    You might recall the late Norman Girvan accusing the late Thompson for his lack of commitment as Chair of the HoGs back in 2008. Since, we have had several rotations of the Chair and the accusation remains relevant. We are a disparate and insular group. The better way to go is to identify and build interest blocs in the region to support common points of interest/cooperation. There is the China and Taiwan policy that exposes a lack of cohesion in foreign policy. Why should our small islands all allocate scare resources to run expensive embassies across the Globe? Why should the CCJ not be fully supported? Why has Mona, Cave Hill and St. Augustine been building out faculties which overlap? Why did the Jamaicans find it difficult to support Garner and went for Cameron who would have been fired in any other locale? Don’t want to be negative by Caricom is a joke and is supported by the ideologues mostly.

    Who is discussing the catastrophic failure of regulators across the Caricom region to regulate pan Caribbean companies because of a lack of material cooperation by regulators?


  8. caribbeantradelaw November 16, 2015 at 8:27 PM #

    @ David, agreed. The thing is that in the functional cooperation part we aren’t doing too badly. It’s with regard to CSM (they long jettisoned the “E”) and now increasingly our foreign policy coordination that the fault lines are really showing. The main problem with CARICOM, as has been highlighted by numerous regional scholars, is its structure. If you have an organisation which relies on HOGs alone to carry the mantle, it is little wonder that the regional project is constantly subsumed by narrow political and insular interests. CARICOM needs a supranational authority. Reading the Time for Action report from the 1980s, so much of it still applies today thirty years later. The implementation deficit remains. I also believe that the regional integration is being starved of ideas and zeal which the younger generation could bring but are being denied the opportunity.


  9. Gabriel November 16, 2015 at 9:18 PM #

    Caricom is hopelessly mired in the politics of insularity.Much as I would like to see a Regional Parliament with punch and perspective,we have the Federal bogeyman lurking.Witness the lack of CCJ support alternating in Trinidad and Jamaica among the two major parties.When one forms the government,attempts to accede is denied for lack of support by the opposition and vice versa when there is a change of administration.I am satisfied we have the wherewithal to advance to a higher system of governance with all the economies of scale mentioned.Unless it is forced by external factors,change appears elusive and thus unlikely.Mid 19th century the bogeyman was the Foreign and Commonwealth Office which united the region in a common objective.The political class had to strategize,plan,coordinate,research together and this had its spinoff post independence.Then power engulfed them all and not one wants to give it up in the interest of the obvious benefits of regionalism.Enter the big ,moneyed class and play one off against the other to the detriment of us all.


  10. David November 17, 2015 at 3:37 AM #

    To be fair it took the EU 50 years to reach an imperfect place isn’t it reasonable for Caricom to take 100 years?


    Why do we need to implement the ‘E’ to move forward if as you suggested we are not doing so badly on the functional cooperation front?


  11. Caribbeantradelaw November 17, 2015 at 8:18 AM #

    @David, my apologies re delayed response. I take your point re the EU and I have made the point to others that in spite of its level of integration the EU still has its challenges. Take for instance the constant calls within the UK for them to exit the EU. Re your question, I am not so much concerned with the “E” at the moment. CARICOM leaders have put that on a hold. What I am concerned about is that we appear to be going backwards rather than forward with the integration process as a whole,including the “M”. Despite what we see happening with UWI and the CCJ, we see functional cooperation working in areas such as health and climate change. So all is not lost.


  12. Gabriel November 17, 2015 at 9:13 AM #

    Apologies.Mid 20th century and not mid 19th.


  13. David November 17, 2015 at 10:24 AM #

    Was it Owen Arthur who stated recently the original plan to roll out CSME must be tweaked because of the lethargy by those charged with its implementation, especially the HOGs?


  14. caribbeantradelaw November 17, 2015 at 6:36 PM #

    @David and @Gabriel

    What we need is a fresh crop of leaders to champion the regional integration movement and with the political will to get the ball rolling again. But we need to get the masses confident about the benefits of the regional movement. I think many Caricom citizens are feeling disenchanted with the broken promises. I surely feel that way sometimes.


  15. David November 17, 2015 at 6:52 PM #

    Alicia in theory yes BUT leaders cannot be plucked from a tree at the ready, they are produced from an environment where intelligence is nurtured and therefore visions for a brighter tomorrow are fashioned.


  16. caribbeantradelaw November 17, 2015 at 7:13 PM #

    @David, Well said and agreed. It is one of the reasons why I wish we had actual election debates here so we could hear the views of our future leaders on things like regional integration, health care policy, education policy etc…so we the electorate can make a more informed decision on whom to choose.


  17. David November 17, 2015 at 7:20 PM #

    The challenge we have is a passive fourth estate which has usurped its role in society. A vibrant media is the leveler to ensure relevant governance framework is adhered to in the interest of the people. What we have here is the the political class being manipulated at will by the private sector anchored in greed. By not educating people about uncompromisingly investigate issues we have raised a people who are blind to the realities. We have some work to do.


  18. caribbeantradelaw November 17, 2015 at 8:09 PM #

    @David, indeed,we do! That’s where BU comes in 😀


  19. Gabriel November 17, 2015 at 8:24 PM #

    I support both views on our lack of progress.We have a Caricom secretariat,we have representatives with special responsibility for Caricom Affairs,yet,as you both have so clearly pointed out,there is no regular media coverage of what we are achieving or planning or discussing with whom,where,towards what end etc.I recall the Federal Government those many years ago saw the wisdom of having its own radio station and full time media officers.Former PM Sandiford had an idea of an Associaton of Caribbean Parliamentarians.It was still born.There was no regional support.


  20. caribbeantradelaw November 17, 2015 at 8:36 PM #

    Exactly! I usually rely on CARICOM’s Twitter feed to find out what is going on but the average person isn’t going to necessarily follow CARICOM’s twitter feed. I think the larger point we are all trying to get at here is the disconnect so many of us feel from what is going on at the CARICOM level. So I definitely agree with you Gabriel that some kind of media like a CARICOM radio station, channel, newsletter etc would be useful. I also believe that CARICOM should have a Young Professionals programme. I suppose that would require a substantial amount of funding to get it started but I am sure there are development financing options that can be explored. The end result would be a continuous crop of young persons coming into the organisation each year being trained, learning hands-on about the work of CARICOM and hopefully injecting new blood and ideas into the regional integration process.


  21. Bush Tea November 17, 2015 at 9:08 PM #

    This whole IDEA of CARICOM / CSME in all of its various manifestations is LONG OUTDATED, flawed and counter-productive.

    As Bushie has been saying now for at least 25 years, the critical factors for success in the modern world have NOTHING to do with size or ‘unity’. Those days are gone…

    Success in this era is tied to innovation, creativity, productivity, flexibility, rapid change….
    If anything, these success factors are supported by SMALLNESS….. being LEAN, MEAN and NIMBLE.
    ..large, complex, unwieldy operations are sitting ducks…..

    Our pursuing CARICOM /CSME is tantamount to a modern army using limited resources to stock up on long-range-Bow & Arrows….


  22. Gabriel November 17, 2015 at 10:08 PM #

    Are you thinking Singapore?


  23. David November 24, 2015 at 6:25 AM #

    As if matters in the ME were not complicated enough, enters Turkey:


  24. caribbeantradelaw November 24, 2015 at 8:41 PM #

    @David, not sure if you’ve seen this. CARICOM and US signed agreement for US $165m in development assistance. Let’s hope it has the desired outcome. http://today.caricom.org/2015/11/24/caricom-and-usaid-sign-us165-million-agreement/


  25. David November 24, 2015 at 8:46 PM #


    Thanks, let us hope so. Is there any post evaluative work done how these funds are disbursed and objectives met over time?


  26. caribbeantradelaw November 25, 2015 at 5:11 AM #

    @David, they do evaluations: https://www.usaid.gov/evaluation I think this intervention is timely considering that official development assistance to the region has decreased over time and most of our countries no longer qualify for most concessionary loans. It makes it difficult to procure financing for development projects and programmes at terms which won’t further deepen our indebtedness. So I am happy about this development.


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