US IMPORTS FROM CARIBBEAN REMAIN AT STAGNANT LEVELS

US IMPORTS FROM CARIBBEAN REMAIN AT STAGNANT LEVELS

Overall U.S. imports from the Caribbean Community remain stagnant, despite rising garment shipments from the region.

Total exports from the community's 13 members valued US$1.9 billion in 1987, the same as in 1986, a report from Caricom headquarters in Barbados said.The jump in garment shipments was offset by a drop in exports of other goods, mainly electronic products from Barbados and agricultural equipment

from Dominica.

Most of the finished garments and electronic goods are imported into the United States with low duty rates, since they are assembled from U.S. parts.

Because of the Caribbean's preferential trade arrangements with the United States, Asian and European manufacturers are taking a closer look at the Caribbean countries as production sites for U.S.-bound goods.

Caricom was created in 1973 to increase trade among its members and boost exports to third countries.

According to the group's latest report on trade, only six of the community's members increased the value of their exports to the United States last year.

Jamaica's U.S. sales earned $421 million for the year, up 31 percent from the previous year, thanks mainly to garment exports.

Those exports grew to $186.7 million last year from $100.9 million in 1986, Caricom said.

St. Lucia also had more garments shipments to the United States last year, increasing these earnings by 75 percent from 1986 to $13.7 million.

This pushed up the island's overall U.S. sales by 46 percent for the period.

More modest increases in overall exports were recorded by Grenada, St. Vincent, St. Kitts and Trinidad and Tobago.

Barbados had the biggest decline in exports to the United States, selling $61 million worth of goods in 1987 compared with $111 million in 1986.

The drop was attributed to a persistent decline in electronic exports.

Exports of these goods in 1987 valued $500,000, down from $150.8 million in 1984 and $63.9 million in 1986.

The island's electronics industry was hit in late 1986 by the shutdown of a major plant operated by Intel Corp., of Santa Clara, Calif.

A fall in the re-export of agricultural equipment caused Dominica's shipments to the United States to earn just $10.6 million, 34.5 percent less than 1986.

Montserrat, Antigua, Belize, the Bahamas and Guyana also recorded declines in sales to the United States last year.