US-CARICOM TRADE AND BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES
ARTICLE BY ROSALIENE BACCHUS
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On April 18, 2008, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) (see Footnote 1) launched its Regional Agriculture
Investment Forum. At the ceremony held at its Secretariat in Guyana, Secretary-General H.E. Edwin
Carrington noted that investments in agriculture could reduce the Region’s US$3 billion food import bill. In
the face of a world food crisis and escalating prices of major commodities, he stressed the urgency for
developing mechanisms for food security among member states. During June 6-7, 2008, the Regional
Agriculture Investment Forum will provide impetus by promoting agribusiness among private regional and
foreign investors. Investment opportunities include rice, soybean and corn production (
see Footnote 2).

Other investment and trade opportunities exist in health and wellness tourism, craft production for interior
design, the gift and craft industry, and the furniture and decorative sector (
see Footnote 3).  According to
Assistant Secretary-General Irwin La Rocque (
see Footnote 4), the services sector is the fastest growing in the
Region, contributing between 60 to 90 percent of the economic output.

Exports to the Region are subject to tariffs ranging from 0 to 20 percent under the Common External Tariff
(CET) (
see Footnote 5) of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME). Agricultural exports suffer a 40
percent tariff to protect the Region’s agriculture sector. Customs surcharges, plus internal taxes and charges
are also applicable. Imports from the Region into the USA benefit from the General System of Preferences
(GSP), whereby developing countries enjoy preferential, non-discriminatory and non-reciprocal treatment in
the markets of preference-giving developed countries.  Select products benefit from reduced or zero tariff
rates. The least developed countries receive special preferential treatment for a larger number of products
and greater tariff cuts. Nevertheless, only four percent of imports from the Region enter the US market duty-
free.

The United States is the Region’s major trading partner with total trade amounting to over US$20 billion in
2007.  CARICOM trade statistics for 2004 to 2006 reveal that imports from the USA increased by 17.7
percent over the period. US foreign trade statistics for exports by country indicate that exports to the Region
continued upwards by 7.8 percent from US$8.5 billion (2006) to US$9.2 billion (2007). In 2006, machinery
and transport equipment valued at US$2.1 billion was the largest category of imports from the US,
representing 37.8 percent of total imports. Jamaica (32.2%) and Trinidad & Tobago (31.9%) were the major
importing countries. Guyana accounted for 4.2 percent of total imports.

CARICOM exports to the USA increased by 75.9 percent over the period 2004 to 2006.  US foreign trade
statistics of imports from the Region show a 4.9 percent increase from US$10.4 billion in 2006 to US$10.9
billion in 2007. Major CARICOM exports were mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials (75.5%) and
chemicals and related products (16.9%). Manufactured goods represented only 1.9 percent. The major
exporting countries were Trinidad & Tobago (90.4%) and Jamaica (6.6%). Guyana trailed behind with 0.8
percent (
see Footnote 6).

The Caribbean Diaspora already plays an important role in developing the Region’s economy. Many
challenges still await for expanding trade in goods and services, attracting direct foreign investments, and
eradicating poverty in the Region.


Footnotes:
  1. Member states (15) are Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti,
    Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and The Grenadines, Surinam, and Trinidad and
    Tobago.
  2. For information on investing in Guyana, visit the Guyana Office for Investment (goinvest.gov.gy).
  3. The Caribbean Association of Industry and Commerce (CAIC) Website provides the Region's members list by country with
    contact information for Chambers of Industry and Commerce and Manufacturers Associations.
  4. Matter discussed at a public hearing on January 29, 2008 with the Deputy US Trade Representative Everett Eissenstat in
    Washington D.C.
  5. Dinah Hippolyte, How to do Business in the Caribbean Community, Caribbean Association of Industry and Commerce
    (CAIC), 2007, pp. 3-5.
  6. US Foreign Trade Statistics is available online with details of products traded by eachCARICOM member state for the
    period 2003-2007.

Article published in the Guyana Journal, Guyana Journal Publication, Inc., New York, USA, May 2008, p. 10.
Reprinted with permission.

For more information on the Caribbean Community, see Caribbean Community (CARICOM) - Very Useful Websites for
Trade and Investment.
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