Congressman Steven Horsford Considers Renewal of Caribbean Trade Policy

September 10, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. -- Today, Congressman Steven Horsford (NV-04) joined the House Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee hearing to call for the reauthorization of the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act, which has expanded duty-free access to the U.S. market for Caribbean Basin Countries. This bipartisan legislation has provided economic gain for the U.S. and abroad for nearly 20 years and is slated to expire on September 30, 2020. 

 

“The existing trade partnership between the U.S. and the Caribbean Basin Countries has encouraged investment, promoted job creation, and boosted our textile industry. We cannot forgo the economic progress and partnership we have made in the last 20 years by allowing this Act to expire, especially in the face of a global economic crisis,” said Congressman Steven Horsford. “It is clear that we must act swiftly to renew our trade commitment, but also continue to seek ways we can pursue our goal of long-term economic development for the developing countries in the Western Hemisphere.” 

The Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act (CBTPA), first enacted in 2000, has allowed for duty and quota-free trade imports for eligible Caribbean countries using U.S.-made textiles. Eligible countries include Barbados, Belize, Curacao, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Lucia, and Trinidad and Tobago. 

Congressman Horsford cosponsors H.R. 991, the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act, which would reauthorize the CBTPA and continue the trade partnership through 2030. He also joined his colleagues of the Congressional Black Caucus in a letter urging House leadership to quickly act on H.R. 911 and continue to stimulate regional economic growth and development. 

The Congressman’s prepared remarks and line of question are available below: 

Mr. Chairman, thank you so much for hosting this hearing on the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act (CBTPA).

Since its inception in 2000, the CBTPA has played an important role in developing and facilitating trade between the United States and the Caribbean Basin.

Extending the U.S. CBTPA will also increase our nation’s economic growth, as well as, promote job creation and lay the foundation for long term economic development.

With this program up for renewal, it’s an opportunity for this committee to discuss any areas for improvement in future conversations.

 For that, I am grateful to committee staff as well as the witnesses that have joined us today.

When considering the renewal of the CBTPA, we can agree that the United States must remain engaged.

We have a longstanding commitment to the economic development of countries like Haiti and others within the region.

Although my colleagues would argue that the United States running a positive surplus in trade in most countries within the region is a bonus…

The reality is that by promoting U.S. investment in developing countries like Haiti, we have forgotten the long-term goal of improving the economic development of these countries.

The programs currently in place can be seen as prioritizing holding returns for the U.S. businesses that invest in these countries, rather than focusing on development and promotion.

On top of the effects of COVID-19, presently, labor rights are continuously violated in forms of economic shocks such as low wages, a climbing cost of living, lack of union representation, and job loss.

Without the CBTPA more Haitians are finding themselves without work and families are left struggling.

Ms. Baltzan, earlier in your testimony you commented that “our programs do not directly promote the development of the middle class.” 

We can agree that the goal of these preference programs must promote a more equitable and sustainable economy.

However, I’d like for you to expand on the best way to ensure markets for U.S. exports in developing countries to develop a more robust middle class. 

Ms. Stewart, thank you for being here and sharing your research with our Committee today.

I’d now like to talk about issues you raised in your testimony on labor rights. You mentioned that the U.S. Department of State’s 2019 Report on Human Rights Practices for Haiti reported that “the government required some factories to remedy labor violations related to freedom of association.” Yet, “the government did not effectively enforce the law.”

Do you believe that if the socio-political unrest within the country continues that the labor rights will not improve?

Ambassador Denis, I’d like to thank you for being here today and sharing your thoughts on the renewal of the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act.

You shared with us that the CBTPA will be critical in strengthening the supply chain for PPEs in response to COVID-19…

But, could you elaborate on the impact that COVID-19 has on Haiti.

 Do you believe the pandemic has a negative impact on the economic development in Haiti? If so, how?

A video of the Congressman’s remarks can be watched and downloaded here

Issues: