If ever there was opportunity and necessity for Caricom countries to fully implement the 30-year old Caricom Single Market and Economy, the “subdued global economic activity and global trade” of the present makes it the right “Time for Action.”
The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) states there is “growing uncertainty, volatility and financial fragility” in the international economy.
ECLAC’s 2019 survey of the Hemisphere states there exists today “a questioning of the multilateral trading system and an increase in geopolitical tensions.” Caricom is therefore facing an international environment that is not propitious for our traditional trade patterns. That means that individual countries in the region cannot continue to depend on traditional external markets to sell products and services.
There is therefore the need is to do something different.
That something different was articulated at the 1989 Gran Anse, Grenada Caricom Heads of Government Conference in the plan to establish the CSME. The plan then was and continues to be to link the economies of the region to produce semi-finished and finished goods and services for the internal and export markets.
This as opposed to the trade patterns of our historic past, that of producing and exporting raw materials for the external market.
We have laboured over the implementation of the CSME for decades. The propitious moment comes now: in an uncertain international economic environment and the need of a basis for regional economic growth.
On the positive side of the graph there is a rarity: “for the first time since 2007, all of the Caribbean countries are expected to post positive growth,” this year states Dr Dillon Alleyne, Deputy Director, Sub-Regional Office of ECLAC.
This overall growth is further enhanced as the major economies of Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago are showing signs of recovery. Very significantly, Guyana continues to discover oil deposits. In all of this there exist a few bases for growth in the region.
In this context, the ECLAC sub-regional director notes that "T&T has to do more to diversify its economy.” The country, in the words of Dr Dillon, has to move away from “policy-making that is largely on how they get the oil sector going, and how they will discover new finds.”
The message is for the Government and private capital to seek to diversify the economy based on regional production of goods and services for internal and external markets by combining the physical and human resources of the region.
The greatest needs of the day are for entrepreneurship across the regional private sector, the undermining of insularity, political insight and the political will to go forward under the CSME.