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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., September 30, 2009.

ADDRESSES:

Comments should be submitted electronically via the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov. For alternatives to on-line submissions please contact Gloria Blue, Executive Secretary, Trade Policy Staff Committee, at (202) 395-3475.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

For procedural questions concerning written comments, contact Gloria Blue, Executive Secretary, Trade Policy Staff Committee, at (202) 395-3475. All other questions should be directed to Kent Shigetomi, 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) 395-3412.

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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), Start Printed Page 41483212(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, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Panama, Saint Lucia, and Trinidad and Tobago. Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, The Bahamas, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, Netherlands Antilles, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines currently receive benefits only under CBERA. The Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica ceased to be designated as beneficiary countries when the Dominican Republic—Central America—United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) entered into force for each country. The CAFTA-DR entered into force for El Salvador on March 1, 2006; for Honduras on April 1, 2006; for Nicaragua on April 1, 2006; for Guatemala on July 1, 2006; for the Dominican Republic on March 1, 2007; and for Costa Rica on January 1, 2009. Comments on Costa Rica should pertain to the time period when Costa Rica was still a 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 on 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, as defined in section 507(6) of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended.

(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.

Additionally, 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. Persons submitting comments must do so in English and must identify (on the first page of the submission) the “CBI Report to Congress.” Written comments must be received by September 30, 2009.

In order to ensure the most timely and expeditious receipt and consideration of comments, USTR has arranged to accept on-line submissions via http://www.regulations.gov. To submit comments via http://www.regulations.gov, enter docket number USTR-2009-0023 on the home page and click “go.” The site will provide a search-results page listing all documents associated with this docket. Find a reference to this notice by selecting “Notice” under “Document Type” on the left side of the search-results page, and click on the link entitled “Send a Comment or Submission.” (For further information on using the http://www.regulations.gov Web site, please consult the resources provided on the Web site by clicking on “How to Use This Site” on the left side of the home page.)

The http://www.regulations.gov Web site provides the option of making submissions by filling in a “General Comments” field, or by attaching a document. We expect that most submissions will be provided in an attached document. If a document is attached, it is sufficient to type “See attached” in the “General Comments” field.

Submissions in Microsoft Word (.doc) or Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) are preferred. If an application other than those two is used, please identify in your submission the specific application used. For any comments submitted electronically containing business confidential information, the file name of the business confidential version should begin with the characters “BC” and must be submitted separately from the public version. Any page containing business confidential information must be clearly marked “BUSINESS CONFIDENTIAL” on the top of that page. If you file comments containing business confidential information you must also submit a public version of the comments under a separate submission. The file name of the public version should begin with the character “P”. The “BC” and “P” should be followed by the name of the person or entity submitting the comments. If you submit comments that contain no business confidential information, the file name should begin with the character “P”, followed by the name of the person or entity submitting the comments. Electronic submissions should not attach separate cover letters; rather, information that might appear in a cover letter should be included in the comments you submit. Similarly, to the extent possible, please include any exhibits, annexes, or other attachments to a submission in the same file as the submission itself and not as separate files.

We strongly urge submitters to use electronic filing. If an on-line submission is impossible, alternative arrangements must be made with Ms. Blue prior to delivery for the receipt of such submissions. Ms. Blue may be contacted at (202) 395-3475. General information concerning the Office of the United States Trade Representative may be obtained by accessing its Internet Web site (http://www.ustr.gov).

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Carmen Suro-Bredie,

Chairman, Trade Policy Staff Committee.

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[FR Doc. E9-19650 Filed 8-14-09; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 3190-W9-P