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 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 have continued to fall from their peak of US$12.3bn in 2005, declining sharply in 2009 to $2.4bn before recovering to $2.9bn last year.

They have been impacted by the exit of six DR-CAFTA countries from CBERA over the past few years, including most recently Costa Rica.

However, the commission said CBERA trade preferences were continuing to benefit Haiti’s apparel sector and to encourage the development of niche products elsewhere in the region.

The CBERA programme, which started in January 1984, gives preferential tariff treatment to most products of 18 designated Caribbean and South American countries.