» Alternatives To Corporate Globalization

» Democracy, Sovereignty and Federalism

» Deregulation and Access to Services

» Import Safety, Environment and Health

» Jobs, Wages and Economic Outcomes

» NAFTA, WTO, Other Trade Pacts

» Other Issues

Trade Data Center

One-stop shop for searchable trade databases, case lists & more

Eyes on Trade

Global Trade Watch blog on trade & globalization. Subscribe to RSS.

Debunking Trade Myths

To hide the facts about failed trade policies, proponents are changing the data

Connect with GTW

What's New – Global Trade Watch

View 'What's New' Archives

Caribbean Basin Initiative

The Caribbean Basin Initiative is not a trade agreement. Rather, it is a non-reciprocal grant, by statute of a cold war “anti-communism” commercial program which was extended in 1999 through the “CBI NAFTA parity” Act, providing special duty-free access to the U.S. market for textiles, apparel and other goods made in the 24-country CBI region. The CBI region includes the Central American countries of Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama, as well as the following Caribbean island nations: Antigua, Aruba, the Bahamas, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, Netherlands Antilles, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago.

In 1982, President Ronald Reagan created the program as a perk for nations which sided with the U.S. in Cold War politics and demonstrated commitment to “free market” principles. Because the 1994 NAFTA gave Mexico access to the U.S. market on terms yet more favorable than CBI, after NAFTA’s passage a U.S. business coalition led by clothing manufacturers who had relocated to Haiti and Guatemala to avoid unions and pay rock-bottom wages demanded parity to NAFTA for their imports from CBI countries. To qualify for the CBI program and obtain duty-free access to the U.S. market, countries are reviewed on several criteria, including basic compliance with some labor rights established by the ­International Labor Organization.

Given CBI’s grant of non-reciprocal, favorable market access, many Caribbean countries were not enthused about the 1994 proposal to expand NAFTA throughout the hemisphere. The proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas would require all signatories to adopt a package of one-size-fits-all policies based on NAFTA and grant reciprocal access for the U.S. and 32 other countries to the signatory countries’ market, a requirement many small island nations fear would wreak havoc on their local economies.

Copyright © 2016 Public Citizen. Some rights reserved. Non-commercial use of text and images in which Public Citizen holds the copyright is permitted, with attribution, under the terms and conditions of a Creative Commons License. This Web site is shared by Public Citizen Inc. and Public Citizen Foundation. Learn More about the distinction between these two components of Public Citizen.

Public Citizen, Inc. and Public Citizen Foundation


Together, two separate corporate entities called Public Citizen, Inc. and Public Citizen Foundation, Inc., form Public Citizen. Both entities are part of the same overall organization, and this Web site refers to the two organizations collectively as Public Citizen.

Although the work of the two components overlaps, some activities are done by one component and not the other. The primary distinction is with respect to lobbying activity. Public Citizen, Inc., an IRS § 501(c)(4) entity, lobbies Congress to advance Public Citizen’s mission of protecting public health and safety, advancing government transparency, and urging corporate accountability. Public Citizen Foundation, however, is an IRS § 501(c)(3) organization. Accordingly, its ability to engage in lobbying is limited by federal law, but it may receive donations that are tax-deductible by the contributor. Public Citizen Inc. does most of the lobbying activity discussed on the Public Citizen Web site. Public Citizen Foundation performs most of the litigation and education activities discussed on the Web site.

You may make a contribution to Public Citizen, Inc., Public Citizen Foundation, or both. Contributions to both organizations are used to support our public interest work. However, each Public Citizen component will use only the funds contributed directly to it to carry out the activities it conducts as part of Public Citizen’s mission. Only gifts to the Foundation are tax-deductible. Individuals who want to join Public Citizen should make a contribution to Public Citizen, Inc., which will not be tax deductible.


To become a member of Public Citizen, click here.
To become a member and make an additional tax-deductible donation to Public Citizen Foundation, click here.