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Notice

Trade Policy Staff Committee; Public Comments on the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act and the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act: Report to Congress

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AGENCY:

Office of the United States Trade Representative.

ACTION:

Notice and request for public comment.

SUMMARY:

The Trade Policy Staff Committee (TPSC) is seeking the views of interested parties on the operation of the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act (CBERA), as amended by the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act (CBTPA) (19 U.S.C. 2701 et seq.). Section 212(f) of the CBERA, as amended, requires the President to submit a report to Congress regarding the operation of the CBERA and CBTPA (together commonly referred to as the Caribbean Basin Initiative, or CBI) on or before December 31, 2001, and every two years thereafter. The TPSC invites written comments concerning the operation of the CBI, including comments on the performance of each CBERA and CBTPA beneficiary country, as the case may be, under the criteria described in sections 212(b), 212(c), and 213(b)(5)(B) of the CBERA, as amended.

ADDRESSES:

Submit comments by electronic mail (e-mail) to FR0086@ustr.gov. If unable to submit comments by e-mail, contact Office of the Americas, Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), 600 17th Street, NW., Room 223, Washington, DC 20508, at (202) 395-6135.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Andrea Gash Durkin, Director for Central America and the Caribbean, Office of the Americas, Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), 600 17th Street, NW., Room 223, Washington, DC 20508. The telephone number is (202) 395-6135 and the facsimile number is (202) 395-9675.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Interested parties are invited to submit comments on any aspect of the program's operation, including the performance of CBERA and CBTPA beneficiary countries, as the case may be, under the criteria described in sections 212(b), 212(c), and 213(b)(5)(B) of the CBERA, as amended, and provided below. Other issues to be examined in this report include: the CBI's effect on the volume and composition of trade and investment between the United States and the Caribbean Basin beneficiary countries; its effect in advancing U.S. trade policy goals as set forth in the CBTPA.

The following countries are the current beneficiaries of the CBI. All are both CBERA and CBTPA beneficiary countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Costa Rica, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Montserrat, Netherlands Antilles, Nicaragua, Panama, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago and British Virgin Islands.

Eligibility Criteria for CBTPA Beneficiary Countries (Section 213(b)(5)(B) of CBERA)

In determining whether to designate a country as a CBTPA beneficiary country, the President must take into account the criteria contained in sections 212(b) and (c) of CBERA, and other appropriate criteria, including the following:

(1) Whether the beneficiary country has demonstrated a commitment to undertake its obligations under the WTO under or ahead of schedule and participate in negotiations toward the completion of the FTAA or another free trade agreement.

(2) The extent to which the country provides protection of intellectual property rights consistent with or greater than the protection afforded under the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.

(3) The extent to which the country provides internationally recognized worker rights including—

(I) The right of association;

(II) The right to organize and bargain collectively;

(III) A prohibition on the use of any form of forced or compulsory labor;

(IV) A minimum age for the employment of children; and

(V) Acceptable conditions of work with respect to minimum wages, hours of work, and occupational safety and health.

(4) Whether the country has implemented its commitments to eliminate the worst forms of child labor.

(5) The extent to which the country has met U.S. counter-narcotics certification criteria under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961.

(6) The extent to which the country has taken steps to become a party to and implement the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption.

(7) The extent to which the country applies transparent, nondiscriminatory and competitive procedures in government procurement, and contributes to efforts in international fora to develop and implement rules on transparency in government procurement.

Public Comment

Comments must be submitted, in English, to the Chairman of the Trade Policy Staff Committee, and must be received no later than October 2, 2003. Submissions in response to this notice will be available for public inspection by appointment with the staff of the USTR Public Reading Room, except for information granted “business confidential” status pursuant to 15 CFR 2003.6. If the submission contains business confidential information, a non-confidential version of the submission must also be submitted that indicates where confidential information was redacted by inserting asterisks where material was deleted. In addition, the confidential submission must be clearly marked “BUSINESS CONFIDENTIAL” in large, bold letters at the top and bottom of each and every page of the document. The public version that does not contains business confidential information must also be clearly marked in large, bold letters at Start Printed Page 49538the top and bottom of each and every page (either “PUBLIC VERSION” or “NON-CONFIDENTIAL”).

In order to facilitate prompt consideration of submissions, USTR strongly urges and prefers electronic mail (e-mail) submissions in response to this notice. Hand-delivered submissions will not be accepted. E-mail submissions should be single copy transmissions in English with the total submission including attachments not to exceed 50 pages in 12-point type and 3 megabytes as a digital file attached to an e-mail transmission. E-mail submissions should use the following subject line: “2003 CBI Report.” Documents must be submitted as either WordPerfect (“.WPD”), MSWord (“.DOC”), or text (“.TXT”) file. Documents should not be submitted as electronic image files or contain imbedded images (for example, “.JPG”, “PDF”, “.BMP”, or “.GIF”) as these type files are generally excessively large. E-mail submissions containing such files may not be accepted. Supporting documentation submitted as spreadsheets are acceptable as Quattro Pro or Excel, pre-formatted for printing on 81/2 × 11 inch paper. To the extent possible, any data attachments to the submission should be included in the same file as the submission itself, and not as separate files.

For any document containing business confidential information submitted as an electronic attached file to an e-mail transmission, in addition to the proper marking at the top and bottom of each page as previously specified, the file name of the business confidential version should begin with the characters “BC-”, and the file name of the public version should begin with the characters “P-”. The “P-” or “BC-” should be followed by the name of the person or party (government, company, union, association, etc.) submitting the petition. Submissions by e-mail should not include separate cover letters or messages in the message area of the e-mail; information that might appear on any cover letter should be included directly in the attached file containing the submission itself. The electronic mail address for these submissions is FR0086@ustr.gov.

Public versions of all documents relating to this review will be available for review approximately 30 days after the due date by appointment in the USTR Public Reading Room, 1724 F Street NW., Washington, DC. Availability of documents may be ascertained, and appointments may be made from 9:30 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, by calling (202) 395-6186.

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Carmen Suro-Bredie,

Chair, Trade Policy Staff Committee.

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[FR Doc. 03-20954 Filed 8-15-03; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 3190-01-M