Terri Sewell introduces bipartisan Caribbean trade bill

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Alabama 7th District U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell reached across the aisle this week to join Florida 26th District Rep. Carlos Curbelo to introduce a bill that would give duty and quota-free access to apparel products manufactured in certain Caribbean countries.

H.R. 3849: the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act would reauthorize the U.S. Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act (CBTPA) until 2030. Since 2000, CBTPA has allowed for the duty- and quota-free import of goods from Caribbean countries. In return, CBTPA requires that Caribbean Basin countries use U.S. formed yarns, fabrics, and thread. Eligible CBTPA countries include Barbados, Belize, Curacao, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Lucia, and Trinidad and Tobago.

“This bipartisan legislation to promote U.S. trade with Caribbean island countries is needed as many islands begin to recover from the devastation of recent hurricanes,” said Sewell. “Economic growth in Alabama is one of my top priorities, and this bill represents a great opportunity to expand my home state’s trade with Caribbean basin countries.”

Although the CBPTA doesn’t expire for three years, in 2020, it’s causing uncertainty for various US retailers who source from the Caribbean. Sewell’s bill would extend the bill until 2030.

“Reauthorizing CBTPA until 2030 and improving trade with countries like Haiti encourages future investment, promotes job creation, and lays the foundation for economic development for decades to come,” Sewell explained. “Since coming to Congress, I’ve worked to build a stronger, more competitive U.S. economy and today’s bill takes a big step towards that goal.”

CBTPA works in conjunction with the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act (CBERA) to facilitate the development of 17 independent countries of the Caribbean Basin region. For these two preferential trade programs to be effective, both CBTPA and CBERA must be authorized.

Eligible CBERA countries include Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, the British Virgin Islands, Curacao, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago.

As of Wednesday, the bill has been referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.