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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. This information will be used in the preparation of a report to the U.S. Congress on the operation of the program.

DATES:

Public comments are due at USTR no later than 5 p.m., November 4, 2005.

ADDRESSES:

Submissions by electronic mail: FR0529@USTR.EOP.GOV. Submissions by facsimile: Gloria Blue, Executive Secretary, Trade Policy Staff Committee, at (202) 395-6143. The public is strongly encouraged to submit documents electronically rather than by facsimile. See requirements for submissions below.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Russell Smith, Office of the Americas, Office of the United States Trade Representative, 600 17th Street, NW., Room 523, Washington, DC 20508. The telephone number is (202) 395-9450.

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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; and its effect in advancing U.S. trade policy goals as set forth in the CBTPA. The following countries are both CBERA and CBTPA beneficiary countries: Barbados, Belize, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Panama, Saint Lucia, and Trinidad and Tobago. Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, The Bahamas, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, Netherlands Antilles, Saint Kitts and Start Printed Page 59390Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines currently receive benefits only under CBERA. When the Dominican Republic—Central America—United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) enters into force for one or more of the CBI beneficiary countries of Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, or Nicaragua, that country will cease to be designated as a CBERA and CBTPA beneficiary country.

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.

Before a country can receive benefits under the CBTPA, the President must also determine that the country has satisfied the requirements of section 213(b)(4)(A)(ii) of CBERA (19 U.S.C. 2703(b)(4)(A)(ii)) relating to the implementation of procedures and requirements similar in all material aspects to the relevant procedures and requirements contained in chapter 5 of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Requirements for Submissions

Comments must be submitted in English by the deadline indicated above. In order to facilitate prompt processing of submissions, the Office of the United States Trade Representative strongly urges and prefers electronic (e-mail) submissions in response to this notice. In the event that an e-mail submission is impossible, submissions should be made by facsimile. Hand-delivered submissions will not be accepted.

Persons making submissions by e-mail should use the following subject line: “CBI Report to Congress.” Documents should be submitted as either WordPerfect, MSWord, or text (.TXT) files. Spreadsheets submitted as supporting documentation are acceptable as Quattro Pro or Excel files. Persons who make submissions by e-mail should not provide separate cover letters; information that might appear in a cover letter should be included in the submission itself. To the extent possible, any attachments to the submission should be included in the same file as the submission itself, and not as separate files.

Written comments, notice of testimony, and testimony will be placed in a file open to public inspection pursuant to 15 CFR 2003.5, except business confidential information exempt from public inspection in accordance with 15 CFR 2003.6. Business confidential information submitted in accordance with 15 CFR 2003.6 must be clearly marked “BUSINESS CONFIDENTIAL” at the top of each page, including any cover letter or cover page, and must be accompanied by a non-confidential version indicating where confidential information was redacted by inserting asterisks where material was deleted, as well as a non-confidential summary of the confidential information. If any document submitted electronically contains business confidential information, 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 submitter. All public documents and non-confidential summaries shall be available for public inspection in the USTR Reading Room. The USTR Reading Room is open to the public, by appointment only, from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. An appointment to review the file must be scheduled at least 48 hours in advance and may be made by calling (202) 395-6186.

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Carmen Suro-Bredie,

Chairman, Trade Policy Staff Committee.

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[FR Doc. 05-20372 Filed 10-11-05; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 3190-W6-P