Despite the Caribbean region’s slow recovery from the global economic recession, U.S. farm exports to the region increased by 2.9 percent in 2010.
THIS REPORT CONTAINS ASSESSMENTS OF COMMODITY AND TRADE ISSUES MADE BY
USDA STAFF AND NOT NECESSARILY STATEMENTS OF OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT
Voluntary - Public
GAIN Report Number: CB1112
Post: Miami ATO
Caribbean Environment for U.S. Farm Exports
Agriculture in the Economy
Market Development Reports
Katherine Nishiura, Mark Ford, and Omar Gonzalez
Despite the Caribbean region?s slow recovery from the global economic recession, U.S. farm exports to
the region increased by 2.9 percent in 2010. The Caribbean has always been extremely receptive
towards U.S. farm exports, but it remains to be seen how several regional initiatives, related to a
common agricultural trade policy, food security, food safety norms, and biotechnology, will affect the
regulatory environment for U.S. products. Third-country competition will undoubtedly play a
significant role in the Caribbean market in coming years and bears monitoring. In addition, it will be
important for U.S. exporters to stay in tune with regulatory developments in order to avoid potential
General Political Situation and Trends:
The Caribbean is one of the most fragmented and diverse regions in the world. This vast geographic
area is covered by two regional FAS offices, the Office of Agricultural Affairs (OAA) in Santo
Domingo and the Caribbean Basin Agricultural Trade Office (CBATO) in Miami. The OAA in Santo
Domingo covers the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Haiti. The CBATO covers practically all other
island markets. Specifically, CBATO islands of coverage include: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda,
Aruba, The Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Caribbean Netherlands or BES
Islands (Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba), Cayman Islands, Curaçao, Dominica, Grenada, Guadeloupe,
Martinique, Montserrat, Saint Barthélemy , Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Martin, Saint
Vincent and the Grenadines, Sint Maarten, Trinidad and Tobago, and Turks and Caicos Islands.
Politically speaking, our region of coverage is a mix of independent states, overseas departments or
dependencies of European countries, and islands that are part of a European kingdom. Practically all of
the islands have some sort of democratic parliamentary system or internal self-government.
Within our region there are several political and economic alliances. The most notable ones are:
1. The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is made up of 15 Member States and five associate
members. It comprises most CBATO islands of coverage as well as Belize, Guyana, Haiti,
Jamaica and Suriname. CARICOM?s Single Market and Economy (CSME) provides for free
intra-regional movement of goods and a 40 percent common external tariff (CET) for extra-
regional goods, among other things. Implementation of the CSME is not yet complete.
2. The Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) is made up of six small, mostly
developing nations and three British territories in the region. In January 2011, the OECS?
Economic Union entered into force, creating a single financial and economic space among the
six OECS countries. All OECS countries, with the exception of the British Virgin Islands, use a
single currency, the Eastern Caribbean Dollar, the existence of which predates the creation of the
Economic Union. The exchange rate with the U.S. Dollar is fixed.
3. The Caribbean Forum of African, Caribbean, and Pacific States (CARIFORUM) is made up of
16 Caribbean countries, all former colonies of European countries.
Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines are members of the Venezuela-
led Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA). These three countries, together with The
Bahamas, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Saint Lucia are part of PetroCaribe, a Caribbean alliance
with Venezuela that allows signatory countries to purchase oil from the South American country at
preferential terms. (See Appendix IV for a listing of CBATO island representation in selected
On October 10, 2010, the five-island Dutch territory known as the Netherlands Antilles ceased to exist.
The two main islands, Curaçao and Sint Maarten, became autonomous countries within the Kingdom of
the Netherlands. The remaining three islands, Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba, (collectively known as
the BES islands) are now extraordinary overseas municipalities of the Netherlands. For Curaçao and
Sint Maarten, their new status within the kingdom means greater autonomy in terms of law making and
government administration. On the other hand, the BES islands will have closer ties to the Netherlands
and will gradually adopt Dutch law. In 2007, the French islands of Saint Martin and Saint Barthélemy
went through a similar process, seceding from the French overseas department of Guadeloupe to
become autonomous French regions.
Macroeconomic Situation and Trends:
The small economies of our region were hit hard by the global economic recession. According to
International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates, real GDP growth for the broad Caribbean region
(CBATO islands plus Belize, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Haiti and Jamaica) declined by more than 3
percent in 2009. The region began a very modest recovery in 2010, growing by an average of about 1
percent. According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean
(ECLAC), GDP growth in the English and Dutch-speaking Caribbean (which make up the vast majority
of CBATO islands of coverage) was estimated at 0.5 percent in 2010.
A major factor behind the region?s slow pace of economic recovery is the fact that the tourism sector,
the main economic engine driving employment and income generation, has yet to regain pre-recession
levels. The CBATO islands are visited by six to seven million stop-over tourists annually, of which
over 50 percent come from the United States. With employment in advanced economies remaining
weak, tourist inflows to the Caribbean are improving only slowly (up 5 percent for the first eight months
of 2010 over the same period in 2009). Visitors from the United States and Canada were up in 2010 but
European arrivals continued to slump. The recovery has also been uneven, with the larger islands
having weathered the downturn better than the smaller islands.
During 2010, most countries experienced increased trade deficits due in good part to the rising cost of
their imports. With the exception of Trinidad and Tobago, which possesses oil and natural gas reserves,
the vast majority of the islands in our region are net importers. Thus, price fluctuations of goods,
including of foods and energy, can have an impact on the balance of trade. Tourism and related services
generate foreign exchange earnings that, to varying degrees, counterbalance the islands? deficits in trade
The debt burden that many Caribbean islands face also has an impact upon economic recovery. Four
countries within our region (Saint Kitts and Nevis, Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda, and Barbados) have
debt-to-GDP ratios in excess of 100 percent, while several others have ratios between 50 and 100
percent, placing these countries among the most indebted in the world.
For 2011 ECLAC estimates GDP growth for the region at 2.2 percent. Prospects for 2011 and beyond
will remain largely dependent on the performance of the tourism sector. While the economies of the
region should regain some traction as tourism slowly turns the corner, the sector remains highly exposed
to advanced economy employment prospects. Indebtedness is expected to continue to affect prospects
for more vibrant growth rates for the near to medium term.
Agriculture in the Economy:
Agriculture is a challenging undertaking in most islands of the CBATO region. First, the total land area
of the CBATO islands is 23,783 sq. km. (9,183 sq. miles), roughly the size of New Hampshire. Only
about seven percent of this land is arable and an even smaller percentage is actually utilized for
farming. Other challenges include: scant water resources in some islands; no economies of scale; labor
shortfalls due to poor returns or wages compared to the services sector; and hurricanes ripping through
the region each year.
Due to these many constraints, agriculture?s contribution to GDP ranges from 1 percent or less in
Aruba, The Bahamas, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Curaçao, Montserrat, Saint
Martin, Sint Maarten, and Trinidad and Tobago to approximately 18 percent in Dominica. In most
islands, agriculture?s contribution to GDP is between one and five percent. Commercial farming is
concentrated in bananas and sugarcane. However, deterioration of preferential market access to the EU
has negatively impacted production of these crops in islands such as Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, St.
Kitts & Nevis, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Most if not all islands in our region have few export
earning alternatives, so the effect has been hard felt. In St. Kitts & Nevis the sugar industry shut down
in recent years, unable to overcome its production challenges and compete in the global marketplace.
Many of the islands produce tropical fruits, vegetables, root crops, coconuts, and spices. A few islands
also produce dairy, poultry, pigs, goats, and sheep. See Appendix II for agricultural statistics by island.
Food Security Policy:
Food security is an important concern for the islands in our region. Hurricanes are the number one
threat to the region?s food security due to their ability to interrupt the supply chain for imported and
domestic food, and their impact upon local food production. In recent years, high food prices and other
(non-hurricane) disruptions to the supply chain have also served to heighten concern about food security
in the region. Many island governments are making efforts to promote greater local food production.
From a regional standpoint, there are two major food security initiatives underway. The first is a
regional Food and Nutrition Security Policy developed by the CARICOM Secretariat in collaboration
with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) and with assistance
from the Italian Government and the European Union (EU). The policy has been approved by the
Ministers of CARICOM countries and is expected to be presented to the CARICOM heads of
government for final approval in 2011. The second is a review of the Caribbean Community
Agricultural Policy (CCAP). The goal of this review is to update the policy, which is a subset of the
?Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas Establishing the Caribbean Community Including the CARICOM
Single Market and Economy,? to sustain a broad-based and balanced development of the region?s
Biosafety and Cartagena Protocol Implementation:
Twelve CARICOM Member States are parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (CPB). The
United Nations Environment Programme, Global Environment Facility (UNEP/GEF) has provided
assistance for these countries to lay the groundwork for implementation of the CPB, but to date none of
the countries has implemented its obligations. A new UNEP/GEF project for implementing National
Biosafety Frameworks in the region is expected to get underway in 2011. The project, which will have
the University of the West Indies as its executing organization, has a lifespan of 4 years and a $12.87
Agricultural Trade in 2010:
The United States posted a $3.5 billion surplus in trade in goods with the CBATO islands in 2010.
In terms of agricultural products, the United States had a $1.13 billion positive trade balance with the
CBATO islands in 2010. The United States imported $133 million in agricultural, fish and forestry
products from the region, with seafood from The Bahamas and Trinidad and Tobago accounting for the
lion?s share of these imports. By contrast, the United States exported $1.26 billion in agricultural, fish,
and forestry products to the region (see Appendix III), up 2.9 percent from 2009. Consumer-oriented
products alone, which account for over 60 percent of these exports, actually increased by 5.9 percent in
2010 and set a new high of $783 million in the process. The top five exports markets within our region
are Trinidad & Tobago, The Bahamas, the former Netherlands Antilles, Bermuda, and Barbados. Top
export products are poultry meat, red meats (fresh, chilled & frozen), snack foods, dairy products, and
wheat. Overall U.S. market share is estimated at 55 percent, ranging from single digits in the French
Antilles to as much as 95 percent in The Bahamas.
As the data demonstrate, the CBATO?s region of coverage is quite open and receptive to agricultural
imports from the United States. Practically all our islands of coverage are WTO and Codex members,
or are represented in these organizations by way of being overseas territories of the U.K., France, and
the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The Bahamas is an exception as it is not yet a member of the WTO
but is currently working through the accession process. A WTO Working Party has been established to
consider its request to accede to the body. (See Appendix IV for a listing of CBATO Island
Representation in Selected International Organizations.)
The United States does not have any bilateral trade agreements with the countries in the CBATO
region. However, a Trade and Investment Agreement (TIFA) between the United States and
CARICOM is currently under negotiation. Under the Caribbean Basin Initiative, the United States
grants the region non-reciprocal, duty-free access to the U.S. market for the vast majority of products.
As mentioned earlier, the CSME provides for free intra-regional movement of goods from CARICOM
Member States. CARICOM is a signatory to trade agreements with Colombia, Cuba, Costa Rica, the
Dominican Republic, and Venezuela, and is negotiating a free trade agreement with Canada with
completion of the deal projected for sometime in 2011. CARICOM is also strengthening trade relations
with other countries, particularly with Brazil. Other countries viewed as potentially significant trading
partners include: China, India, Argentina, and Chile.
In 2008 the CARIFORUM countries (with the exception of Haiti and Cuba) signed an Economic
Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union (EU), which will gradually reduce Caribbean
tariffs to zero for a large share of agricultural goods from the EU over the next 25 years. Haiti later
signed the EPA in December 2009.
SPS Issues and Regulatory Systems:
Practically all our islands of coverage are quite receptive to imports of U.S. agricultural products.
Sanitary product registration, laboratory testing, special certification, and pre-market approval are not
required to import the vast majority of foodstuffs into most islands. For products that do require import
approval and certification (mainly meat and poultry, dairy, seafood, and produce), most countries try to
follow international standards and guidelines. U.S. labels are generally accepted without a problem,
although occasionally U.S. exporters run into problems with local authorities over U.S. products not
fully complying with country-of-origin and expiration date requirements. These problems can usually
be resolved, at least temporarily, with stick-on labels.
In most islands, food safety responsibilities fall under the Ministry of Public Health or its equivalent.
The Ministry of Agriculture may also play a role with plant and animal products, both in terms of public
health and in terms of plant and animal health. The fragmented nature of the Caribbean has contributed
to the development of a number of differences from country-to-country in SPS and other regulatory
requirements and procedures. Resources available to fund national regulatory systems, including
enforcement, vary widely as well.
There is a growing consensus in the region that the development and application of harmonized regional
and international food safety measures, standards and guidelines are essential for protecting public
health and the efficient operation of the CSME. In March 2010, the CARICOM Secretariat established
the Caribbean Agricultural Health and Food Safety Agency (CAHFSA) to update plant and animal
health and food safety systems, an important step in the agricultural development of the region. Efforts
are reportedly underway to make CAHFSA operational.
The Caribbean Animal Health Network (CaribVET) provides a forum for addressing veterinary issues
in the broader Caribbean region. CaribVET is a joint network of institutions and professionals aiming
to improve animal health and the quality and safety of animal products throughout the Caribbean. Its
members include veterinary services, veterinary laboratories, government agencies, research institutes,
farmers? associations, NGOs and universities mainly from the Caribbean but also from North, Central
and South American countries. Although there is no Caribbean region plant health structure, Plant
Health Directors from the different Caribbean countries are beginning to meet annually to explore areas
of common interest, and have established several technical working groups to address specific
Appendix I. Caribbean Islands at a Glance
(2010 Statistics, except where noted)
Stop-Over Real Public
Population Tourist GDP GDP GDP Per Inflation Gross
Island / (Mid-year Arrivals (Purchasing Growth Capita (Consumer Debt
Country estimate) (2009) Power (%) (ppp) Prices, %) (% of
Anguilla 14,766 57,891 $175.4 m 1ill -8.51 $12,0002 2.5 n/a
Antigua & 86,754 234,410 $1.43 bill -4.1 $16,500 2.0 104.0
Aruba 104,589 812,623 $2.26 b 3ill 2.43 $21,8004 2.1 n/a
The 310,426 1,327,005 $8.88 bill -0.5 $28,600 0.6 46.9
Barbados 285,653 518,564 $6.2bill -0.7 $21,700 5.9 111.6
Bermuda 68,265 234,860 $4.5 bi 4ll 4.64 $69,9004 2.7 n/a
British 24,939 308,793 $853.4 m 4ill -0.62 $38,5004 4.2 n/a
Caribbean 18,012 82,980 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
Cayman 50,209 271,958 $2.25 b 2ill 1.12 $43,8004 3.0 n/a
Curaçao 142,180 366,703 $2.84 b 2ill 3.52 $14,9704 3.0 n/a
Dominica 72,813 74,923 $765.4 mill 1.4 $10,500 2.3 83.1
Grenada 107,818 113,370 $1.13 bill 0.8 $10,500 3.6 119.1
Guadeloupe 468,100 404,700 n/a 2.2 n/a 3.0 n/a
Martinique 406,600 443,202 n/a 2.0 n/a 4.1 n/a
Montserrat 5,118 6,311 $29 m 5ill -15 $3,4005 2.67 n/a
Saint 7,406 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
Saint Kitts 49,898 93,000 $719.5 mill -1.5 $14,400 2.5 196.3
Saint Lucia 160,922 278,491 $1.79 bill 1.1 $11,100 1.7 79.1
Saint Martin 30,235 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
Saint 104,217 75,446 $1.11 bill 0.5 $10,600 1.2 91.7
Sint Maarten 37,429 440,185 $794.7 m 2ill 1.62 $15,4002 1.8 n/a
Trinidad & 1,228,691 342,091 $27.1 bill 2.1 $22,100 10.7 39.2
Tu 5rks & 23,528 n/a $216 mill 4.96 $11,5005 n/a n/a
TOTAL 3,808,568 6,487,506 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
1. 2009 estimate; 2. 2008 estimate; 3. 2005 estimate; 4. 2004 estimate; 5. 2002 estimate; 6. 2000 estimate.
Source: Population data from CIA World Factbook, Euromonitor, and Central Bureau of Statistics of the Netherlands
Antilles; Tourist arrival data from Caribbean Tourism Organization and Euromonitor; GDP & inflation data from CIA
World Factbook and Euromonitor, debt figures from IMF, Regional Economic Outlook: Western Hemisphere.
Appendix II. Caribbean Agriculture at a Glance
% of Labor
Land Area Ag % of Force in Ag.
Island / Country (sq. km.) / GDP
% Arable Agricultural Products
Anguilla 91 / 0 4 4 Small quantities of tobacco, vegetables;
Antigua 443 / 18 3.8 7 Cotton, fruits, vegetables, bananas,
coconuts, cucumbers, mangoes,
Aruba 180 / 11 0.4 n/a Aloes; livestock; fish
The Bahamas 10,010 / 0.6 1.2 5 Citrus, vegetables; poultry
Barbados 430 / 37 6 10 Sugarcane, vegetables, cotton
Bermuda 54 / 20 1 3 Bananas, vegetables, citrus, flowers, dairy
British Virgin 151 / 20 0.9 0.6 Fruits, vegetables; livestock, poultry; fish
Caribbean 322 / n/a n/a n/a Very limited agriculture
Cayman Islands 264 / 3.9 1.4 1.9 Vegetables, fruit; livestock; turtle farming
Curaçao 444 / 10 1 1.2 Aloe, sorghum, peanuts, vegetables,
Dominica 751 / 6.7 17.7 40 Bananas, citrus, mangoes, root crops,
Guadeloupe 1,628 / n/a 15 15 Sugarcane, bananas, vegetables, plantain,
cocoa, flowers, root crops
Grenada 344 / 5.9 5.4 24 Bananas, cocoa, nutmeg, mace, citrus,
avocados, root crops, sugarcane, corn,
Martinique 1,128 / n/a n/a n/a Sugarcane, bananas, pineapples, cut
flowers, avocados, citrus, vegetables; fish
Montserrat 102 / 20 1.2 n/a Cabbages, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes,
onions, peppers; livestock products
Saint Barthélemy 21 / n/a n/a n/a No significant agriculture
Saint Kitts & Nevis 261 / 19.4 3.5 n/a Sugarcane, rice, yams, vegetables,
Saint Lucia 606 / 6.5 5 21.7 Bananas, coconuts, vegetables, citrus, root
Saint Martin 54.4 / n/a 1 n/a No significant agriculture, limited fish
Saint Vincent & 389 / 18 10 26 Bananas, coconuts, sweet potatoes, spices;
the Grenadines small numbers of cattle, sheep, pigs,
Sint Maarten 34 / 10 0.4 1.1 Sugar
Trinidad & 5,128 / 14.6 0.5 3.8 Cocoa, rice, citrus, coffee, vegetables;
Turks & Caicos 948 / 2.3 n/a 20 Corn, beans, cassava (tapioca), citrus
Source: CIA World Factbook, Euromonitor & CBATO research.
Appendix III. U.S. Agricultural Exports to the Caribbean, CY2010
(Thousands of Dollars)
D.R., Jamaica & Haiti All Caribbean Islands
CBATO Islands Cuba
Bulk 144,168 160,019 729,601 1,033,788
Intermediate 139,188 67,181 475,324 681,693
Consumer 783,279 133,407 559,700 1,476,386
Forest Prod. 155,132 1,035 116,845 273,012
Seafood 38,568 0 14,265 52,833
Total 1,260,335 361,642 1,895,735 3,517,712
Source: Derived from U.S. Bureau of the Census trade data.
Appendix IV. CBATO Island Representation in Selected International Organizations
WTO Commission CARICOM OECS CARIFORUM IICA
Country/Island Member Member Member Member Member Member
Anguilla 1/ 1/ Associate Associate
Antigua & Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Aruba 2/ 2/ Observer
The Bahamas Observer Yes Yes Yes Yes
Barbados Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Bermuda 1/ 1/ Associate
British Virgin 1/ 1/ Associate Associate
Islands member member
Caribbean 3/ 3/
Cayman Islands 1/ 1/ Associate
Curaçao 2/ 2/
Dominica Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Grenada Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Guadeloupe 5/ 5/
Martinique 5/ 5/
Montserrat 1/ 1/ Yes Yes
Saint Barthélemy 6/ 6/
Saint Kitts & Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Saint Lucia Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Saint Martin 6/ 6/
Saint Vincent & Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Sint Maarten 2/ 2/
Trinidad & Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Turks and Caicos 1/ 1/ Associate
1/ - As an overseas territory of the U.K., it is indirectly represented through the U.K. or the European Union (EU).
2/ - As an autonomous country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, it is indirectly represented through the Kingdom or
3/- As overseas municipalities of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, they are represented by the Kingdom.
4/ - The Bahamas is in the process of WTO accession. The first accession Working Party meeting for The Bahamas was
held on September 14, 2010.
5/ - As an overseas Department of France, it is represented by France or the EU.
6/ - As an overseas collectivity of France, it is represented by France or the EU.
Source: CBATO research.