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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 Start Printed Page 48203213(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 16, 2011.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

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), 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 on 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, 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.

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 World Trade Organization (WTO) on or ahead of schedule and participate in negotiations toward the completion of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (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. All comments must be submitted in English and must identify (on the first page of the submission) the subject matter of the comment as the “CBI Report to Congress.” In order to be assured of consideration, comments should be submitted by September 16, 2011.

In order to ensure the timely receipt and consideration of comments, USTR strongly encourages commenters to make on-line submissions, using the http://www.regulations.gov Web site. Comments should be submitted under the following docket: USTR-2011-0004. To find the docket, enter the docket number in the “Enter Keyword or ID” window at the http://www.regulations.gov home page and click “Search.” The site will provide a search-results page listing all documents associated with this docket. Find a reference to this notice by selecting “Notices”' under “Document Type” on the search-results page, and click on the link entitled “Submit a Comment.” (For further information on using the www.regulations.gov Web site, please consult the resources provided on the Web site by clicking on the “Help” tab.)

The http://www.regulations.gov Web site provides the option of making submissions by filling in a comments field, or by attaching a document. USTR prefers submissions to be provided in an attached document. If a document is attached, it is sufficient to type “See attached” in the “Type comment & Upload File” field. USTR prefers submissions in Microsoft Word (.doc) or Adobe Acrobat (.pdf). If the submission is in an application other than those two, please indicate the name of the application in the “Comments” field.

For any comments submitted electronically containing business confidential information, the file name of the business confidential version should begin with the characters “BC”. The top of any page containing business confidential information must be clearly marked “Business Confidential”. Any person filing comments that contain business confidential information must also file in a separate submission a public version of the comments. 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 a comment contains no business confidential information, the file name should begin with the character “P”, followed by the name of the person or entity submitting the comment.

Please do not attach separate cover letters to electronic submissions; rather, include any information that might appear in a cover letter in the comments themselves. Similarly, to the extent possible please include any exhibits, annexes, or other attachments in the same file as the submission itself, not as separate files.

Public Inspection of Submissions

Comments will be placed in the docket and open to public inspection pursuant to 15 CFR 2006.13, except Start Printed Page 48204confidential business information exempt from public inspection in accordance with 15 CFR 2006.15. Comments may be viewed on the http://www.regulations.gov Web site by entering docket number USTR-2011-0004 in the search field on the home page.

USTR strongly urges submitters to file comments through regulations.gov, if at all possible. Any alternative arrangements must be made with Laura Newport in advance of transmitting a comment. Ms. Newport should be contacted at (202) 395-9666. General information concerning USTR is available at http://www.ustr.gov.

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Donald W. Eiss,

Acting Chair, Trade Policy Staff Committee.

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[FR Doc. 2011-20039 Filed 8-5-11; 8:45 am]

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