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An economic trade imbalance

The article ``Caribbean Grabs Clinton Attention as US Finalizes Haiti Invasion Plan,'' Sept. 6, fails to mention the emergence of a third issue that will affect United States policy in the Caribbean.

The passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement last year has provided Mexico a preferential access to the US market on many products that are key exports of the Caribbean. Such a competitive imbalance has already begun to erode US trade and investment links with the Caribbean Basin, undermining prospects for long-term economic development.

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The Clinton administration hopes to rectify this situation with the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. It has proposed an ``interim trade program'' (ITP) that will restore a level playing field between Caribbean and Mexican exports to the United States. In return, Caribbean countries will undertake new commitments that will expand US business opportunities throughout the Caribbean. Ultimately, the ITP will lead to full free-trade agreements between the US and the Caribbean.

The Caribbean ITP envisions a more long-term framework for political stability and sustainable growth throughout the region. Richard L. Bernal, Washington Ambassador, Embassy of Jamaica

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