by Linda Straker
Caribbean is United States “third border” and largest importer of US goods
- US is largest importer of Caribbean goods
- US-Caribbean 2020 Strategy guides work in the region
The Caribbean which is described as the “third border” of the United States, is a leading trade partner in terms of United States exports to the region and is the largest importer of US goods.
“Given our common interests and proximity, the Caribbean is our “third border.” The US-Caribbean 2020 Strategy guides our work in the region in six areas: security, diplomacy, prosperity, energy, education, and health,” said Linda Taglialatela, United States Ambassador to the OECS and Barbados.
“The strategy aims to build the capacity of governments and partners to make progress in these areas to help meet the needs of the Caribbean people,” she said while pointing out that since 2010, the US Congress has appropriated nearly $617 million for the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI), a shared security partnership with the Caribbean that supports efforts to reduce illicit trafficking, increase citizen security, and promote crime prevention
Speaking about trade between the Caribbean and the United States, she said that the US is the leading trade partner for the Caribbean in terms of exports to the region, and as the largest importer of Caribbean goods.
“In 2016, the United States had $4.6 billion trade surplus with the Caribbean, which indicates the region is an important market for the US economy. The United States supports our Caribbean partners through promoting stronger trade ties, open markets for the US exports, and private sector-led investment and development. We also encourage our partners to implement reforms that strengthen good, transparent governance,” she said.
Of concern to the US as identified in the annual Special 301 report from the US Trade Office, is the treatment of Intellectual Property (IP) rights in the region.
“The United States actively engages with Eastern Caribbean countries to improve the protection of intellectual property rights. We encourage legislation that deters illicit activities and strengthens fines and penalties for those that commit them,” said the ambassador in an interview.
“We provide capacity building to strengthen intellectual property rights enforcement and seek to ensure patent, trademark, and copyright statutes comply with international standards,” she shared.
According to the 2019 Special 301 report, in 2018, the United States continued to engage with members of the Caribbean Community and other governments in the region on concerns regarding inadequate and ineffective IP protection and enforcement, including ongoing broadcast television and satellite signal piracy and unlicenced and uncompensated use of copyrighted music.
“Heightened engagement on a regional basis, including conferences and training in the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and others, with strong US Government leadership and participation, has led to increased expertise, awareness, and initial positive steps. The United States is looking forward to increased engagement on this topic in 2019.” The report also pointed out that the Caribbean is receiving counterfeit goods from India.
Grenada annually imports millions [of dollars’ worth] in goods, including medicine and food from the US.