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UWI economist Dr Roger Hosein: T&T needs to leverage China’s presence in region

Thursday, May 29, 2014
DR Roger Hosein Photo: Rishi Ragoonath

Trade is imperative for small developing island economies like T&T, said Dr Roger Hosein, senior lecturer, University of the West Indies (UWI). This conclusion is also the thrust of his new book, Applications of International Trade Theory: The Caribbean Perspective.


“Small economies are connected to the world via trade. Trade is the umbilical cord that drives their growth. When I started to teach the course, all the material available was foreign, based on a foreign culture with foreign examples and foreign data sets. I found that unacceptable. This book explores the main ideas, concepts and theories from the trade literature against the backdrop of a Caribbean setting,” Hosein told the Business Guardian last Thursday by e-mail.


On May 20, two books were launched at the Office of the Principal, UWI, St Augustine.


The first was Hosein’s Applications of International Trade Theory. The other book, Informal Commercial Importers in Caricom, written by Hosein and Martin Franklin, head of the Department of Economics, UWI.


International Trade Theory, which costs $265 at UWI Bookstore, was first printed in 2013.


One of the themes Hosein explored in book is the rise of China and trade with the Caribbean.


“Globalisation will not be easily reversed. China presents both opportunities and threats for T&T and the Caricom. The challenge is to make use of the opportunities whilst minimising the threats. For example, the rapidly growing Chinese economy requires vast amounts of raw materials and is also making significant foreign direct investment (FDI) excursions abroad. Their tourism outflow has been rapidly increasing and there are opportunities here. We need to tap into them. At the same time, some economists have argued about the downgrading of labour standards that are associated with the Chinese work ethic and along these lines, host economies would need to be careful,” he said.


Last year, the Chinese President Xi Jinping promised Caricom a developmental loan and Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar spoke about building new industrial parks with Chinese assistance.


Speaking in March at a post-Cabinet press conference, the Prime Minster announced that the Government is seeking the assistance of China President Jinping and that country’s Premier Li Keqiang to have $5 billion in loans for this country approved speedily.


“There is a clear need to invigorate the e-TecK parks in T&T. The level output per worker in the manufacturing sector supersedes that in agriculture and the services sector. There are clear areas in the economy where the unemployment rate is by far higher than the national average. 


“Thus, in Point Fortin, the unemployment rate is around 20 per cent whilst in the economy as a whole it is around five per cent. The e-TecK parks, in conjunction with a localised economic development thrust, can help to strengthen the various growth poles proposed by the Government and help to improve economic outcomes across a wider geographic spread and bring under-utilised resources into more productive use,” Hosein said.


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