A free trade agreement between Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles is in force, allowing products from both regions to freely access markets in accordance with the rules of origin. The World Trade Organization (WTO) Aruba is not a full member of the WTO, as schedules for goods and services need to be rounded. Nevertheless, aruba, due to global economic relations, keeps the evolution of this multilateral trade regime up to date. Aruba is a member of the plurilateral agreement of the Government Procurement Act. Curacao is the largest island (461 square kilometers or 178 square miles) and is home to the capital of the association, Willemstad (24,235 inhabitants in 1992), the commercial and industrial center of the islands. Curacao, blessed by the seventh largest natural harbor in the world and the largest in the region, was once the base of Dutch trade activities in the region and the site of a large slave market. Since the beginning of the twentieth century, it has been supported by its oil refineries, including 1 of the largest refineries in the world. Its terrain is volcanic and semi-arid and its climate tropical. An association of the EU, Aruba, a member of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, has been qualified since 1964 by the European Overseas and Territorial Union (OCT). This restriction, provided for in the Overseas Association Decision, means that products originating in Aruba are imported into the Community duty-free. Products shall be considered as originating in Aruba if they are wholly obtained here or if they are products obtained in Aruba and containing materials which have not been wholly obtained or obtained in Aruba, provided that such materials have been manufactured in Aruba under satisfactory working or processing conditions.
Products not originating in Aruba, exported as such to the Community, also have duty-free access to the Community market, provided that Caribbean tourism is a highly competitive trade and that the Caribbean industry, in particular, is not without problems. The Caribbean islands are hampered by relatively few beaches. Most of the best are on Sint Maarten, but Sint Maarten is vulnerable to hurricane damage and was hit hard by severe storms in 1995 and 1998 that seriously disrupted the tourism sector. Competition from other Caribbean islands has also put pressure on tourist arrivals, particularly on the number of U.S. cruise passengers. . . .