Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley shakes hands with US Ambassador Joseph Mondello at a meeting in September 2019.

Trinidad and Tobago stands to benefit from an extension of a trade agreement between the Caribbean Basin and the United States, signed into law by US President Donald Trump on Saturday.

The legislation extends preferential duty treatment for certain goods produced in the Caribbean Basin under the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act (CBERA) until September 30, 2030.

The CBERA is intended to facilitate the development of stable Caribbean Basin economies by providing designated beneficiary countries with duty-free access to the United States market for most goods.

Trinidad and Tobago has been a beneficiary since inception in 1984 which has allowed for duty-free access of selected commodities into the US market.

The trade preference was due to expire on September 30, 2020.

Legislation to renew the CBERA was introduced in the United States Congress during the 116th Congress (2019-2020) due to the active lobbying efforts of the T&T government in collaboration with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

Various CARICOM missions were led to Washington, including a T&T mission led by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley who met with various Congressional leaders.

This country’s relationship with the US is a vital part of the country’s overall trade, as the US is T&T’s top export and import partner. According to the United States Trade Representative’s 2019 Report on the Operation of CBERA, Trinidad and Tobago has been the leading exporter to the US under CBERA since 2005.

This country exported US$551.8 million to the US in 2018, which represented an increase of 13.1 per cent over its value in 2017.

The main exports to the US were methanol (US$449 million) and petroleum and petroleum-related products (US$55.4 million).

In addition, the top energy exports to the US in 2019 including liquefied natural gas (LNG), anhydrous ammonia, urea and methanol accounted for approximately TT$8.6 billion.

T&T’s top non-energy products to the US in 2019 including rum, aerated beverages, sugar confectionery, sauces and biscuits accounted for approximately TT$55 million.

In 2019 over 36 per cent of T&T’s total exports and 51 per cent of the country’s non-energy exports were consumed in the US.

Over 200 firms exported duty free to the US, generating foreign exchange earnings and employment.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry said the continuation of the CBERA preferences forms a key part of T&T’s economic recovery strategy as the Government seeks to reset the economy for growth and innovation.