The Case for NAFTA Parity for CBI Countries
In 1995, the CaribbeanÂ Basin is faced with two fundamental, yet conflicting trade trends. On one hand, as it stands now, NAFTA has emerged as an immediate challengeÂ to the viability of the US/Caribbean trading relationship. In providing preferential access to a number of Mexican products, which form an important base of the Caribbean exportÂ portfolio, NAFTAÂ will cause substantial erosion of the Caribbean competitive position vis-a-vis theÂ USÂ market.Â OnÂ theÂ other hand, NAFTA representsÂ a building block in the establishmentÂ of a hemispheric free trade area, a goal that has been enthusiastically endorsed by JamaicaÂ as partÂ of the FreeÂ Trade AreaÂ ofÂ the Americas (FTTAA) process.
The CaribbeanÂ BasinÂ TradeÂ SecurityÂ Act S.529/HR 553)-which has attracted widespread bi-partisan supportÂ and the backingÂ of the Clinton administration - creates a mechanism to address and reconcileÂ these diverging trends. First, the Caribbean Basin Trade Security Act will provideÂ a shortÂ termÂ remedyÂ to theÂ trade and investment balancesÂ caused byÂ NAFTA.Â Second,Â this measure will create a transitional framework through which Caribbean countries like JamaicaÂ can attain the longÂ term goal of integration into hemispheric free trade. Quick passage and enactment of this important measure, therefore, is vitally important to sustain the US/Caribbean economic and trade partnership.