The impact of the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act (CBERA) on the US economy continues to be negligible, according to the independent US International Trade Commission (USITC).

The commission’s latest biennial report on the legislation adds that there has been a “small but positive” effect on US consumers and beneficiary countries.

Imports under the CBERA programme declined for a third consecutive year to $8.5bn in 2014, the report says, blaming the sharp drop in the value of imports of crude petroleum and refined petroleum products.

In contrast, US imports of textiles and apparel accounted for 19.8% of imports under CBERA in 2014, supplied mainly by Haiti, which saw a sharp increase. This is attributed in large part to new apparel manufacturing facilities built to take advantage of the trade preference programme established by the HOPE/HELP Acts.

However, although investment in Haiti's export-oriented apparel sector increased significantly in 2013-2014, the report suggests Haiti will likely remain a small US apparel supplier.

It also adds that while wxporting CBERA-eligible goods is a challenge for many CBERA beneficiaries because of supply-side constraints, including inadequate infrastructure, special CBERA provisions for Haiti “have had a strong, positive effect on export earnings and job creation in Haiti's apparel sector.”

The CBERA programme, which started in January 1984, gives preferential tariff treatment to most products of 17 designated Caribbean and South American countries.