The US request for the Most Favoured Nation waiver for the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) was approved at the General Council Meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) held October 15-16.

The CBI comprises the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act (CBERA) and the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act (CBPTA). The waiver, which gives legitimacy to the CBERA/CBPTA in the WTO, is for six years to end on September 30, 2025.

Members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), now the principal beneficiaries, welcomed the waiver approval and thanked the US administration for securing it.

The CBPTA, however, expires on September 30, 2020. In February, a bipartisan bill to extend CBERA/CBTPA was again tabled in the US House of Representatives by representative Teri Sewell (D-Al). At the time, I suggested that it would have been better to obtain the extension and, thereafter, request the waiver. At the US/CARICOM Trade and Investment Council Meeting in June, officials of the Office of the US Trade Representative signalled their intention to request the waiver.

There is still no further movement on this bill in the House. Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) tabled a similar bill in the Senate on September 12. As the CBPTA expires in September 2020, I believe that there isn’t the urge to expedite adoption of this bill. After all, the Congress is seized with far more important and pressing matters.

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