Wenstrup’s bipartisan proposal extends U.S.-Caribbean trade partnerships

U.S. Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) on Feb. 6 cosponsored a bipartisan bill that would continue to give certain Caribbean countries expanded duty-free access to the U.S. market.

Rep. Wenstrup, the lead original cosponsor, and U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL), the bill’s sponsor, unveiled the currently unnamed H.R. 991, which would reauthorize the U.S. Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act (CBTPA) until 2030. The law is set to expire on Sept. 30, 2020, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

“Since its establishment nearly 20 years ago, the CBPTA has provided the dual benefit of expanding U.S. exports while stimulating job growth and economic development in these Caribbean nations,” Rep. Wenstrup said. “It is my pleasure to join Rep. Sewell in maintaining these critical trade partnerships by extending the CBPTA for another 10 years.”

Since 2000, the CBTPA has permitted duty- and quota-free import of goods made with U.S. yarns, fabrics and threads from Caribbean countries, according to a statement from Rep. Wenstrup. The CBP says that as of Jan. 1, 2018, the following countries are CBTPA beneficiaries: Barbados, Belize, Curacao, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Rep. Sewell said that extending the trade pact will boost the nation’s economic growth. “Improving trade with countries like Haiti and Jamaica by reauthorizing CBTPA encourages future investment, promotes job creation and lays the foundation for long-term economic development,” he said.

In conjunction with the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act (CBERA), the CBTPA helps support development in a total of 17 independent countries in the Caribbean Basin region. Rep. Wenstrup said both acts should be reauthorized for them to be effective.

H.R. 991 has been referred for consideration to the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee.