AbstractThis paper has been prepared in the framework of
the Caribbean Regional Consultation on the MOST Programme and suggests
areas of research relevant to the needs of coping with global change in
the Caribbean. The economic, technological and environmental aspects of
global change are specifically mentioned. The paper begins by discussing
the appropriate definition of the Caribbean region for the present
purpose. Next, it identifies the main characteristics of the region, and
discusses some implications of global change on the prospects for economic
growth and human development. It is suggested that the idea of coping
should be given a proactive and strategic orientation. Examples are
provided from the challenges of globalization and competitiveness, the
information communications revolution, and the thrust towards
sustainability. Finally, seven cross-cutting areas of action, and related
policy research, are proposed for the Caribbean.
I. The Caribbean:
Fragmentation, Diversity, Vulnerability
Definitional issues II. Economic
Vulnerability and the Impact of Global Change
Fragmentation and diversity
population and income
Trade dependency III. Growth and Human
Rise of Asia and the Pacific
Economic growth IV. Coping
Strategies: a Formulation
Globalization and Competitiveness
Information services VII. The Thrust
Global ecostress: international negotiation VIII. Areas for Policy
environmental management capabilities
A. Foundation Stones
1. Equity and social cohesion B. Actors
2. Reform of governance
Human resource development
4. Strengthening of state strategic planning and management
5. Fostering of local entrepreneurship
6. Science and technology policy
1. The Caribbean: basic statistics
2. Distribution of population
3. Major manufacturing exporters
4. Human development and
gender-related development indicators, 1997
5. Poverty, unemployment
1. Population by languages
2. Population by group
3. Per capita
GDP by grou
4. Regional GDP by group
5. Land area by group
Trade dependency ratio
7. Tourism in foreign earnings
in growth, larger island and mainland states
9. Faster grown in small
10. Change in global HDI ranks, 1991-1997
12. Telephone densities
The Caribbean – Small is Bountiful?
3. Policy areas in
coping with global change
Managing Social Transformation in a Global Context
Table A1 – Characteristics by group
Table A2 – Trade dependency
Table A3 – Growth rates
I. THE CARIBBEAN: FRAGMENTATION, DIVERSITY,
The term "Caribbean" is used in different meanings so far as its scope
and coverage are concerned (see Box 1). Caribbeans themselves tend to
think of the region as consisting exclusively of the language area to
which they belong. Hence, when anglophones speak of the Caribbean they are
normally referring to the countries of the Caribbean Community
(Caricom), the group of 15 predominantly English-speaking states (1) that includes
all the former British colonies in the archipelago and the adjacent
mainland. Formed nearly 25 years ago, Caricom has a sound background of
cooperation in trade, external economic negotiations, education, sports,
and culture. The recent admission of Suriname and Haiti to its membership
means that it is becoming more truly representative of the non-Anglophone
Caribbean. Caricom is also developing closer relationships with Cuba and
the Dominican Republic.
On the other hand, we have the Association of Caribbean States
(ACS) that was formed by a Caricom initiative in 1995 (WICOM 1992). The
membership of the ACS extends to all the states bordering the Caribbean
Sea on the South and Central American mainland. This may be called the
"Greater Caribbean" (ACE 1996), but it is also referred to as the
"Caribbean Basin", a term which reflects the US perspective. The ACS’s
Caribbean includes several countries also considered to belong to other
"regions" : Mexico, Colombia and Venezuela, which are major Latin American
players in their own right and the members of the Central American Common
Market. On the other hand, most of the dependent territories in the
archipelago are not yet members of the ACS. It is, therefore, both too
extensive and too restrictive a definition for the purposes of this paper
"The Caribbean" in this paper, therefore, means all the islands in the
Caribbean Sea plus four mainland entities with close historical and
cultural affinity to the islands (see Box 1). This definition coincides
closely with the membership of the Caribbean Development and Cooperation
Committee of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and
the Caribbean (ECLAC). Basic statistics on size, population, income, and
political status and external association for the region are provided in
- The Caribbean in this paper means the island
states and dependent territories in the Caribbean sea, from
the Bahamas in the North to Trinidad in the South, plus
French Guiana, Suriname, and Guyana on the South American
mainland and Belize on the Central American mainland. There
are 16 independent states and 12 dependent territories,
listed in Table 1.
- The Caribbean Development and Cooperation
Committee of the Economic Commission for Latin America
and the Caribbean (CDCC-ECLAC) includes all 16 of the above
states as full members and 7 the dependent territories* as
associate members. The three French dependencies sometimes
attend CDCC meetings as observers.
- The Caribbean Community (Caricom) has 15 members:
13 English-speaking states, Suriname, and Haiti; and two
British dependent territories as Associate Members (see
- The Association of Caribbean States includes (i)
the 16 independent states referred to above, (ii) 9 other
mainland states bordering the Caribbean Sea in Central and
South America, and (iii) the 3 French dependent territories
as Associate members. Other dependent territories are
eligible for ACS membership. This is the "Greater Caribbean"
or the "Caribbean Basin".
- The membership of other regional bodies bearing the name
"Caribbean" varies widely.
- The West Indies: the original appellation arising
out of the voyages of Columbus, this term is now associated
with the colonial Caribbean; as in "British", "French" and
"Dutch" West Indies. In the English-speaking Caribbean it
has endured in the name of certain key institutions,
particularly the West Indies Cricket Team and the University
of the West Indies. In the U.S., Canada and Britain the term
"West Indian" has traditionally been used to refer to
- The Antilles: more commonly used in Spanish,
French and Dutch, this term is the loose equivalent of the
"West Indies" in English. Hence the term "Antillean" used in
France and the Netherlands. In English its use is associated
with "Greater Antilles" (Cuba, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico and
Jamaica), and "Lesser Antilles" (the island chain in the
*Anguilla, Aruba, British Virgin Islands, Montserrat,
Netherlands Antilles, Puerto Rico, and US Virgin
Fragmentation and diversity
In geography and history, this region has certain features which
distinguish it from the rest of the mainland. The numerous islands and
cays are scattered over a wide area strategically located on the main
trading routes between South/Central America and Europe/North America.
Fertile land is abundant and there are mineral and hydrocarbon deposits.
As a result, the region was the subject of intense military rivalry among
the major European powers from the 16th-18th centuries, and of US
occupation in the 20th century. Spanish settlement was followed
by the virtual disappearance of the indigenous population, the spread of
the sugar plantation system, the importation of slave labour from West
Africa and subsequently of indentured workers from various parts of Asia.
This experience has left a legacy of extreme political fragmentation and
wide linguistic, ethnic and cultural diversity.
With a total population of 37 million, there are 28 identifiable
political entities in the region. 16 of these are independent states and
12 are dependent territories. Twenty-one have populations of under 1
million, and 9 have less than 100,000 inhabitants. Besides Caricom and the
ACS, most of the independent states also belong to the
African-Caribbean-Pacific (ACP) group of countries under the Lome Treaty
with the European Union (EU). Several of the smaller islands are also
grouped into the Organization of East Caribbean States (OECS).
English-speaking countries are also members of the (formerly British)
Commonwealth of Nations. Dependent territories are associated with
Britain, France, Netherlands, and the United States under a variety of
constitutional arrangements. Puerto Rico, Aruba and the Netherlands
Antilles have a high degree of internal autonomy. Martinique, Guadeloupe
and French Guiana are politically integrated with metropolitan France,
some 7,000 kilometres across the ocean. In between these two extremes are
the British dependencies, which have locally elected administrations with
a British Governor.
Table 1. The caribbean:
English is the official language of the majority of Caribbean states
and territories but Spanish is the language of the majority of the
population (Table 2, Chart 1). French, Dutch, and several Creole languages
are also spoken. Ethnically, people of European and African origin
predominate in the Hispanic societies, whilst African and Asian
descendants are the majority in the English, French and Dutch speaking
countries. There are also small Chinese, Jewish and Lebanese communities.
Historically, fragmentation and diversity have been barriers to
regional cooperation and have prevented the emergence of the region as a
cohesive group in hemispheric and international relations. But there is a
growing movement towards cooperation across political and language
barriers in economic, environmental, and political matters. The positive
aspect of cultural diversity is that it has been a source of survival
skills for Caribbean people. It is also an asset in the tourist industry,
in that visitors can sample the Caribbean versions of Latin, African and
Asian cultures. Diversity should be seen as an asset whose potential can
be more fully utilized in the future.
Size, population and income
The 28 entities exhibit wide differences in physical size, size of
population, and level of per capita income. For example Cuba, the most
populous Caribbean country, has about 1000 times the population of
Anguilla. Guyana, with the greatest land area, is over 2,300 times larger
than Aruba. Montserrat has over 120 times the per capita income of Haiti,.
Such differences make it difficult to generalize about economic and social
conditions across the region as a whole.
Within the Caribbean, a distinction is often made between Caricom and
non-Caricom countries. Yet Caricom members themselves show wide variation
in size of population and income levels. Also, this distinction has the
danger of obscuring possible points of similarity among Caricom and
non-Caricom states. For this reason, we suggest a four-part classification
of the entities in the region, using a combination of political,
demographic and geographic criteria.
First, since action by the state is a necessary element of coping with
change, we distinguish the independent states from the dependent
territories. Within the former we distinguish the larger island
states, the smaller island states, and the mainland states.
This classification into four groups is used for most of the tables
and charts in this paper. Its underlying logic will become clearer as the
The larger island states are those with populations greater than 1
These are Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, and Trinidad and
Tobago which contain, between them, 79 percent of the region’s population.
Their average per capita GDP (PCI) is under $1,000 and this places them,
internationally, among the lower middle income group of developing
countries. Trinidad and Tobago’s PCI is however, considerably higher than
that of the others. Haiti, on the other hand, is a low-income country.
The eight smaller island states all have populations of less than 1
million. They are the Bahamas, Barbados, and the six members of the OECS.
This group has an average PCI over five times that of the larger island
states that places them, as a group, in the upper middle income of LDCs.
Together, they are only 3 percent of the Caribbean overall population.
The three mainland states are Belize, Guyana, and Suriname. They are
relatively large in land area, with 55 percent of the Caribbean total but
with only 4 percent of the region’s population. Their PCI is about the
same as that of the larger island states. Hence they, too, are lower
middle income LDCs as a group. However, Belize’s PCI is somewhat higher
than the others in this group.
Finally, there are the 12 dependent territories. They have an average
PCI of over $11,000, placing them in the high-income group of LDCs and
their population is 14 percent of the Caribbean total. Puerto Rico stands
out in this subgroup, accounting for 10 percent of the total Caribbean
population and as much as 42 percent of the region’s total GDP (4).
Broadly speaking, the Caribbean is divided between a group of larger
island and mainland states which contain the majority of the region’s
population and land area, with relatively low PCI and a large number of
relatively small states and dependent territories with a small proportion
of the population but significantly higher average per capita incomes. The
higher incomes of the latter arise mostly out of a combination of small
populations with favourable resource endowments and the economic benefits
of dependent status or of sound economic management (see Box 2). It is
also likely the data somewhat exaggerate the real differences in living
standards of the populations in the different groups for the following
First, to permit comparison we have used GDP rather than GNP data. GDP
is likely to overstate the income actually accruing to residents by a
wider margin in the dependent territories than in the independent states.
This is because of the higher degree of non-resident ownership in the
dependent territories. Second, the differences in PCI levels among the
independent states are considerably narrowed when purchasing power parity
(PPP) GNP data are used. For example the ratio of PCI of the richest to
the poorest (Bahamas and Haiti respectively) narrows from 54:1 to 15:1
using the PPP measure (5). Third, there
is the problem of income distribution: in fact quite significant
proportions of the population live below the poverty line in some of the
smaller island states (6).
The Caribbean - Small is
What explains the wide differences in per capita income
levels among groups of Caribbean countries? Why do the
dependent territories and the smaller island states have
significantly higher incomes than the heavily populated larger
island states and the large but thinly populated mainland
states? This is certainly one reason why the people in the
dependent territories, on the whole, have little enthusiasm
for political independence. Some, in the recently decolonized
states, may even feel that independence was a mistake! And the
inverse relation between size - both of population and of land
area - and per capita income in the region upsets certain
traditional perceptions about the disadvantages of small sized
territories. The Caribbean shows that small is not only
beautiful, it can be bountiful as well.
The main reason for this is that in the Caribbean, very
small populations have combined with conditions favouring
large foreign investment in tourism, offshore banking, and
manufacturing for export; with the added boost of bananas in
the OECS countries and of government-to-government resource
transfers for the dependent territories.
- Small populations. With the exception of Puerto
Rico, the average population of the dependent territories is
42,000, which is one reason why independence has not been
considered a viable option for most of them. Average
population of the smaller island states is 142,000.
- Tourism. 11 of the 12 dependent territories
derive significant benefits from tourism (French Guiana
being the only exception), as do 5 of the 8 smaller island
states. A small island with lots of good beaches means high
per capita earnings from tourism. For four small
dependencies for which data are available, per capita annual
earnings from tourism are over $2,600 which is over ten
times the equivalent figure in the Dominican Republic and
- Offshore banking. Cayman Islands, Aruba, the
Bahamas and Antigua, have astutely exploited loopholes in
overseas banking laws to become offshore tax havens. This
brings benefits in terms of tourism, investment, and local
professional and registration incomes. The downside is that
these countries have been exposed to money laundering
activities from drug trafficking.
- Manufacturing for export. Puerto Rico exports
over $16 billion of manufactures annually, mostly to the
United States, to which it has duty free access. Its
privileged status, together with low cost labour in relation
to the mainland, and generous tax treatment by both the US
and Puerto Rican governments, has attracted huge investments
from the mainland. Barbados and the Bahamas have also
successfully promoted manufactured exports; the former on
the basis of its highly productive labour and excellent
infrastructure; the latter benefiting from its good location
vis-à-vis the United States.
- Bananas. Expansion of banana exports in the 1970s
and 1980s boosted the economies of the Windward Islands.
- Resource transfers. Most of the dependent
territories receive significant resource transfers in
relation to their population from their respective
metropolis. These support a generally high level of social
services and, indirectly, per capita incomes.
- Political safety. The dependent territories also
attract investment by virtue of the absence of "Sovereign
risk" ; and with it the fear of expropriation, sudden
changes in the treatment of foreign investors, inflation,
controls on capital and profit repatriation, etc.. This
contributes to a high comfort level for investors and
tourists, who feel that they can count on the protection of
the metropolitan government should the need arise.
- Human capital and economic management. Barbados
has maintained a tradition of strong investment in human
capital and sound economic management, building a
diversified, resilient economy. The countries of the OECS
have also been prevented from pursuing fiscal and monetary
excesses by having a common central bank, the ECCB. Both
have maintained stable currencies and low inflation since
independence, unlike most other states in the region. This
has helped investment and economic growth.
Finally, the relatively high PCIs of the smaller island states and
dependent territories hide the crucial feature of their
vulnerability. With small and fragile ecosystems, these entities
are highly vulnerable to the effects of the annual hurricane season, as
well as to intermittent earthquakes and volcanoes (7). The economic
implications of natural disasters are magnified by their dependence on
tourism and/or agriculture to sustain living standards. Another aspect of
vulnerability is the sensitivity of the dependent territories to decisions
taken by their respective metropolitan powers. The smaller island states
are also impacted by decisions taken by their large and powerful trading
partners, as the dispute over access to the EU banana market so clearly
Ecological, economic and political vulnerability is also a feature of
the larger islands and mainland states. It is perhaps the one feature that
all Caribbean societies have in common, irrespective of their economic and
II. ECONOMIC VULNERABILITY AND THE IMPACT OF GLOBAL
Economic vulnerability in the Caribbean is a result of the extent of
trade dependency together with the vulnerable nature of the region’s
export economies. Trade dependency is shown by high trade/GDP (8) ratios. These
range from an average of 71 percent for the larger island states to 186
percent in the mainland states (9), with an
overall regional average of 112 percent (seeTable A2 and Charts 6 and 7).
It is not just the size of trade dependence that matters, however, so
much as its specific characteristics. Most Caribbean economies depend on
the export or one or a small number of resource products, and/or tourism.
Merchandise exports continue to consist largely of primary commodities and
other resource products. Such products account for more than 50 percent of
the value of exports of goods in 13 of 20 economies for which data are
available. The products vary: sugar in Cuba, Guyana, and to a lesser
extent in several others; bauxite and its derivatives in Jamaica, Suriname
and Guyana; petroleum and its derivatives in Trinidad and Tobago and in
the Netherlands Antilles; bananas in St. Lucia, Dominica, Grenada, St.
Vincent, Guadeloupe and Martinique; coffee in Haiti.
Many Caribbean countries have prospered in the past by means of the
export of these resource-based products. Future reliance on them to
maintain living standards, and to encourage economic growth, is
problematic. Primary commodities are the most stagnant sector in the
growth of world trade. Trade expansion has shifted decisively in favour of
science-intensive goods and knowledge-intensive goods and services.
Primary commodities are subject to declining terms of trade with respect
to manufactured goods. In the case of bananas, the preferential quota
arrangements accorded Anglophone Caribbean exporting countries by the
European Union seem likely to be dismantled as a result of a recent WTO
This will undermine the livelihood of thousands of small producers in the
Eastern Caribbean states. Earlier experience of Cuba with preferential
arrangements for sugar exports, first with the United States and then with
the Soviet Union, show how vulnerable exporting countries can be in this
Tourism is the other main foreign exchange earner for most
of the region’s economies. The Caribbean earns around $8 billion annually
from foreign visitors, amounting to nearly one-half of all its foreign
exchange earnings. Eleven out of 17 countries for which data are available
derive more than one-half of their foreign earnings from tourism. The main
risk factors in tourism are environmental degradation, crime and tourist
harassment, adverse media publicity with over-concentration in the US and
western European markets and intensified competition in the industry
worldwide as the relative cost of air travel continues to fall.
Some countries in the region have had success in developing exports of
manufactures (Table 5). Puerto Rico alone exports $16 billion of
manufactures annually. Success factors are duty-free access to the US
market, relatively low-cost labour, generous incentives, and low political
risk due to the island’s status as a US dependency. Other Caribbean
countries obviously cannot match the first and the last of these factors.
Trinidad and Tobago exports about $1 billion annually of steel,
fertilizers and other energy-based and petrochemical-based products, as
well as light manufactures. The Bahamas also exports significant
quantities of chemicals.
The most vulnerable manufactured exports of the region are garments and
other light manufactures attracted by the combination of low-cost labour,
generous tax incentives, and favourable tariff treatment by the United
States on imports of products assembled abroad from US goods. With these
advantages, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica developed a large garment
export sector employing some 120,000 people by the early 1990s (Wilmore
1993; 1994). Barbados also became a significant exporter of light
manufactures. These exports, especially garments, are now threatened by
competition from Mexico, as a result of the North American Free Trade
Agreement (NAFTA) coming into operation. Jamaica has lost over 9,000 jobs
in the garment industry in the past two years. Caribbean and Central
American countries have lobbied intensively for NAFTA parity for CBI
countries, so far without success.
In the longer term, Caribbean economies will face severe
competitive challenges arising out of the obligations of the WTO Treaty,
the proposed establishment of a Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA,
targeted for 2005), and the possible restructuring of the Lome Treaty
arrangements between the EU and the ACP group of countries to eliminate
its non-reciprocal preferential trading arrangements.
Another dimension of economic vulnerability is the relatively high
degree of financial dependency of most governments in the region. The
independent states rely heavily on multilateral and bilateral flows, and
on commercial borrowing, to finance their capital expenditure on social
and economic infrastructure. Many of the dependent territories depend on
transfers from their metropolitan patrons to sustain public services and
As far as concessional credits for the independent states are
concerned, the end of the Cold War and fiscal stringency in the major OECD
countries have had a negative impact on the flow of funds. US aid has
fallen sharply as has the flow of credits to Cuba from Eastern Europe.
Multilateral funding has also fallen or failed to grow significantly, as
attention shifts to Eastern Europe and to sub-Saharan Africa. Some of the
larger states have reasonably good access to the commercial capital
market, notably Barbados and Trinidad and Trinidad and Tobago. At the
other extreme countries like Haiti and Suriname need overseas assistance
to balance their recurrent budgets. In short, governments need to develop
the capacity to mobilize domestic and external resources independently by
improving tax collection and administration machineries and external
negotiating skills, whilst expanding the tax base by stimulating growth.
Recent developments have seen a tightening of financial and trade
conditionalities in the policies of the developed countries. Increasingly,
market access and financial assistance for LDCs is being linked to trade
liberalization, market-oriented policies and the downsizing of the state.
In the case of the United States these polices are carried out through the
lending conditionalities of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and
the NAFTA/FTAA/WTO processes. In the case of the EU this appears to be the
likely thrust of the revision of the Lome arrangements. The new
dispensation will seek to modify or eliminate the non-reciprocal trade
preferences characteristic of the Lome accord, and to differentiate among
ACP countries by subgroups or on a case-by-case basis (EU 1996). This
calls for a careful reformulation of negotiating strategies with the EU
Rise of Asia and the Pacific
Finally, the implications of the significant shift in the growth pole
of the world economy towards Asia and the Pacific need to be considered.
This is a region with which the Caribbean has few linkages in trade,
investment, and economic cooperation; and which in turn has at best a
marginal interest in the Caribbean. Hence highly proactive strategies of
trade and economic diversification to this region will be needed.
In conclusion, Caribbean countries face several challenges arising out
of structural shifts in the world economy and the forces working for more
open trading regimes. The main weaknesses are represented by certain
primary product exports, preferential arrangements, and environmental
vulnerability. The main sources of strength and dynamism are tourism and
certain manufactures. Export diversification by product and market, and
improving competitiveness in international markets, are the main tasks
facing Caribbean economies in the global setting.
III. GROWTH AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENT
The urgency of the above tasks is underlined by negative trends in
economic growth and human development among most of the the larger island
and mainland states in recent years. A notable feature of this experience
is the superior growth performance of the smaller island states. Hence,
income and human development gaps in the region have probably widened in
the past 10-15 years.
As seen in Chart 8, there was a marked slowdown in economic growth
among the larger island and mainland states in the 1980s and early 1990s
(see Appendix, Table A3 for details) As already noted, these countries
contain over four-fifths of the region’s population.
Table 4. Human
development and gender-related development indicators, 1997
This slowdown was a direct consequence of the difficulties in
foreign trade and external financing discussed previously. High debt
burdens and structural adjustment programmes have taken their toll on the
economies of Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Guyana, and Trinidad and
Tobago (where falling international oil prices were also a factor).
Non-economic factors, both internal and external, have also played a part.
The Suriname economy was badly affected by civil conflict and the
withdrawal of financial aid by the Netherlands. Political turmoil in
Haiti, followed by a United Nations embargo, resulted in a flight of
capital and the collapse of manufactured exports. Cuba suffered a 75
percent contraction in foreign trade, and a 35 percent fall in national
output between 1989 and 1994, after the collapse of the Soviet Union. In
contrast the smaller island states enjoyed a sharp upturn in economic
growth after 1980 (Chart 9). This was propelled by the expansion of banana
exports and of tourism, supported by the expansion of manufacturing in the
cases of Barbados and the Bahamas. Some doubt however hangs over the
prospects for sustained growth in the banana and tourist-driven economies,
in the light of the imminent changes in external trading arrangements and
the accumulation of environmental problems noted above.
Up to the end of the 1980s, most Caribbean countries were performing
well in human development relative to their level of per capita income.
Twelve of the 16 independent states show a higher HDI rank than GDP per
capita rank in the UNDP Human Development Tables (see Table 7). In
gender-related development, 6 of the 8 countries for which data are
available show a higher ranking than their human development ranking. The
relatively good performance of Caribbean countries in human and gender
development is due mainly to greater life expectancy and of educational
attainment in most countries.
Chart 10. Change in global
HDI ranks, 1991-1997
However, recent economic reversals are reflected in the recent
performance of human development indicators. Eight of the 16 independent
states suffered a decline in their global rank in Human Development
between 1991-1997 (Chart 10). This includes all of the of the
larger island states. and two of the three mainland states. Haiti lost 31
places in its human development rank, Cuba and Jamaica both lost 24
places, Guyana 15, Suriname 11, and Barbados 3 (11). Three other
smaller island states also had slippages in their rank up to 1996, but
regained ground by 1997. Since it has been shown that the female
population bear a substantial share of the burden of structural
adjustment, it can be expected that these reversals have impacted severely
on Caribbean women.
Poverty, unemployment, inequality
The trends should be viewed in the context of the widespread problems
of poverty, unemployment and income inequality across the region as a
whole (Table 8, Chart 11). Estimates of the proportion of the population
living in absolute poverty are as high as 65 percent in Haiti, over 40
percent in Guyana and Suriname, and between 20 and 40 percent in 7 other
Excluding Cuba, for which data are not available, as many as 38 percent of
Caribbean people are living in absolute poverty. The problem is shared by
the East Caribbean states, where "significant portions of the ...
population are in a condition where without targeted intervention and
community-focused development, this goal (i.e. poverty eradication) cannot
be attained" (Duncan 1997:2).
A major contributor to poverty is unemployment and underemployment (13). Almost all
Caribbean countries have double-digit unemployment rates, and there is the
problem of the "working poor". Income inequality is also marked: the share
of the poorest 20 percent of households in consumption varies from 3.4 to
7.1 percent in the 7 countries for which data are available. Where
inequality is combined with low average per capita income, or high
unemployment, or both, the consequences are evident in the incidence of
One visible consequence of economic stress is the high rate of
emigration from the region. A recent estimate put the net loss of
population from the region at 5.5 million in the 1950-1989 period
(Guengant 1993; cited in Samuel 1996:8) which is about 15 percent of the
present population within the region. Haiti, Cuba, Jamaica and Puerto Rico
each had close to 1 million of their native-born population living abroad
at the close of the 1980s. In relation to the resident population, the
overseas population at the end of the 1980s stood at 40 percent for both
Jamaica and Guyana, 36 percent for Suriname, 23 percent for Puerto Rico,
21 percent for Trinidad and Tobago, 15 percent for Haiti, and 10 percent
The Caribbean diaspora is now a major factor in the economic life of
the region. In several countries remittances from abroad already compare
significantly to the value of merchandise exports (14). Tightened
immigration controls and xenophobic pressures in the United States and the
European Union could see accelerated return flows of migration to the
Caribbean in the not too distant future. However, the potential of the
Caribbean diaspora as a source of capital, technology and business
expertise is yet to be fully tapped.
Besides pushing many Caribbeans to seek their economic improvement
elsewhere, poverty, unemployment and inequality undermine the kind of
social cohesion needed to manage change effectively and this is especially
so where the lines of exclusion coincide with deep rooted ethnic and
social divisions. They occur in the context of the intense exposure of the
region's population, especially the youth, to affluent metropolitan life
styles through the presence of a large tourist population and to a
relentless diet of the cult of individualist consumerism, sex and
violence, through satellite TV and other new technologies. This may
undermine disciplined attitudes to study and work and contribute to the
legitimization of antisocial behaviour.
The juxtaposition of the above factors has provided a fertile breeding
ground for growing involvement in drug abuse and in drug trafficking. The
Caribbean has become a principal transshipment area in the South
America-North America/Europe drug trade. Many states are grappling with an
alarming rise in criminal violence, much of it drug-related. Drug
trafficking has had corrosive effects on security and justice systems
staffed by personnel who are overstretched and underpaid. It has exposed
political systems to penetration and corruption. From the other side, it
has given rise to pressures from the United States government for police
powers within the sovereign air and sea space of the Caribbean (Abrams
1996; Paris 1996). In 1996-1997 most Caricom governments signed
"Shiprider" agreements with the United States, giving that country’s armed
forces the right to enter their sovereign sea and air space to pursue and
arrest suspected drug traffickers. In recent years Britain and the
Netherlands have removed locally elected administrations in dependent
territories suspected of ties with drug traffickers. Hence many Caribbean
entities are seeing an erosion of the limited sovereignty or autonomy they
There is a growing sense in the Caribbean of being at the mercy of
forces, both economic and criminal, that are "too big" or "too hot" for
governments to handle. This may be a factor contributing to the waning
credibility of governments and the declining confidence in political
systems, among the population in many countries in the region. At the same
time, a growing sense of "Caribbeaness" is also discernible. This is
attributable to a heightened recognition of commonality in history,
culture, and especially of contemporary condition. But can the Caribbean
cope? And if so, how?
IV. COPING STRATEGIES: A FORMULATION
We may sum up the dangers facing Caribbean societies in terms of
possible marginalization from the growth points in the world
economy, further political and social fragmentation
intra-nationally and intra-regionally, and creeping loss of autonomy,
defined as the capacity actively to shape their future development.
Whether some or all of these societies can survive as viable economic,
social and political entities into the first half of the 21st century is
still an open question. It is in that sense that we characterize the
region as comprised of "societies at risk".
One scenario of the future is a region in which poorer households rely
mainly on remittances from overseas family members to make ends meet;
governments rely on financial assistance from metropolitan patrons to
balance their budgets; and societies are under the military protection of
the United States and the European Union. This can be called the
"trusteeship" scenario. It may appear to be unduly pessimistic but in fact
it is nothing more than an extrapolation of several current trends.
On the other hand, we have the evidence of the creativity and talent of
Caribbean people. For its comparatively small population, this is a region
that has given rise to a remarkable array of outstanding personalities and
performances in the fields of politics, the arts, sports, and culture (15).
The issue of what is meant by "coping" is posed in this context. The
term connotes a survival strategy: a series of defensive actions aimed at
minimizing the adverse impact of external shocks, protecting what is
already there. Used in this sense, it is essentially reactive and
For the management of social transformation in a global context, coping
needs to be given a proactive meaning and a strategic
orientation. Development objectives of economic growth, human development,
poverty reduction, social equity, good governance and local autonomy, come
into play. The task then becomes that of pursuing these objectives in the
context of the constraints and opportunities resulting from global change.
For this, it will be necessary to strengthen the habit of viewing the
world through the lens of the historical experience, contemporary reality,
and long-term interests of the region's population. In short, the
Caribbean will need to define itself and act in function of that
self-definition, rather than responding to the definitions of others (16). For example,
from the outside world the region is viewed alternatively as a "tropical
paradise" or as a "problem area". Caribbean people are stereotyped either
as carefree and fun loving, or as adept at illegal immigration, or as
violent criminals. Of course, none of these images conforms to the complex
reality of the region as it is experienced by Caribbeans themselves, nor
does it adequately convey their aspirations.
In the three sections that follow we develop this line of thinking by
discussing responses to globalization and competitiveness, the
infocommunications revolution, and the thrust towards
sustainablity. These are used as specific examples of coping with
economic, technological and environmental change. To preview the final
section, we argue that there are certain "building blocks" generic to all
proactive coping strategies, if they are to be successful. We sum these up
as: commitment to equity and social cohesion, reform of
governance, human resource development, strengthening of
state capabilities, fostering of local entrepreneurship,
science and technology policy, and regional cooperation and
V. GLOBALIZATION AND COMPETITIVENESS
Many of the developments impacting on the region are manifestations of
what is usually called "globalization". There are three aspects of this
process that may be distinguished, each with its specific implications.
First, there are the actual economic processes that are being
"globalized": finance, production, trade and communications. These are
driven by the global activities of transnational corporations (TNCs), by
the global integration of money and capital markets, and by the
convergence of computer and telecommunications technologies. So far
Caribbean countries have participated in these processes mainly through
the growth of tourism, assembly manufacturing, and modern
telecommunications. But this participation has been highly uneven as
between countries, industries, and socio-economic groups. To this extent,
it exacerbates tendencies to regional and social fragmentation. One
objective should be to ensure that this participation is more equitable
and its benefits are more widely spread.
Second, there is the policy component of globalization: trade,
financial, and investment liberalization. This is effected through the
obligations of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Treaty, the construction
of hemispheric trading areas such as NAFTA and the EU, and the
conditionalities of multilateral and bilateral funding agencies in their
lending programmes. All independent Caribbean states have liberalized
their economic environment in one way or another in the past 10 years. In
some cases investment inflows and economic growth have increased (17); in others,
the initial effects have been negative or disappointing (18). As noted,
the NAFTA and WTO treaties have so far had negative consequences for the
region's exports. Thus there is a pressing need to strengthen bargaining
power and negotiating skills in external trade and economic negotiations,
in order to improve the possibilities of more favourable outcomes.
The third aspect of globalization is its legitimizing ideology. Key
elements are the presumptions of the superiority of the "market" over
government intervention in the economy, of the universal need for and
applicability of "market-friendly" policies, and of the automatic benefits
that will follow for countries that open up their economies to the forces
of global competition. It is not always clear how far countries,
especially developing countries, liberalize because they genuinely believe
these precepts and how far they do so because of the pressures of aid,
lending, and trade conditionalities. In any case there is the risk that
policies that are premised on what is essentially a distorted view of
reality will not necessarily be in the best interests of the region.
For the reality of globalization is that the game of global competition
is not among equals. It is dominated by giant firms, backed by their
governments, who have in effect set the rules for their own benefit.
Expansion of the coverage of the WTO Treaty to trade in services,
international investment flows, and Intellectual Property, erosion of
non-reciprocal preferences for developing countries, and international
freedom of movement for capital but not for labour are visible
manifestations of this reality.
There is also a downside to globalization. One aspect is the
marginalization of whole countries and socio-economic groups due to the
operations of the "market". Associated with this is the globalization of
inequality - within and between nations - of poverty, and of unemployment
(UNDP 1995, 1996). Global communications and financial liberalization have
facilitated the international spread of drug trafficking and drug
abuse--the emergence of a globalized crime industry (Payne, 1996). In many
countries interpersonal and inter-ethnic violence has grown to alarming
proportions, social safety nets are withdrawn and state systems are
weakened with the spread of market relations (UNRISD 1995). These
phenomena are already present in many Caribbean countries (Girvan ed.
The issue for the region is not whether to participate in
globalization, but how. Here, it may be useful to distinguish between an
approach of active as opposed to passive participation (19). We
characterize as a "passive" approach the policy package of
across-the-board trade and financial liberalization, deregulation of
goods, services, and factor markets, privatization, and the downsizing of
the state. We suggest that an "active" approach would emphasize the
exercise of selectivity in the areas and sequencing of
liberalization policies, maximizing bargaining power in external
negotiations, and the selective development of competitive competencies in
the economy. The objective of the active approach is to achieve
competitiveness in ways that permit a steady rise in real wages and living
standards for the population; and, more generally, to participate in the
world economy on terms consistent with equitable development and good
A crucial distinction between the two approaches lies in the way in
which competitiveness is to be achieved. Both approaches recognize the
importance of a stable macroeconomic environment, a competitive exchange
rate, and a good infrastructure. Both assign the leading role in
production and exports to private firms. In the case of the passive
approach, however, competitiveness tends to be defined as the ability to
offer transnational firms lower production costs and higher returns on
their investment. The emphasis of Government policy is on guaranteeing
low-cost labour, low taxes, and a liberalized economic environment.
The active approach places greater emphasis on the development of human
skills and of technological, entrepreneurial, and managerial capabilities
in the state and private sector. These become the basis for developing
competitive advantages among individual firms and industrial clusters, and
at the level of the economy as a whole.
It concedes the importance of cost/price competitiveness of
producers in the ability to compete successfully in export markets.
However it emphasizes the contribution of management efficiency, worker
productivity and skill upgrading to improving cost/price competitiveness,
in preference to cheapening the cost of labour through devaluations and
wage controls. In addition, it pays considerable attention to the crucial
role of non-price factors that are critical to winning and maintaining
competitive advantages by firms in world markets. These include knowledge,
skill, marketing and economic intelligence, product quality, production
for specialized niche markets, management and organizational capabilities,
and production flexibility (Best 1990; Dahlman 1993).
The scope for the active approach to participation in the world economy
is a task that demands the attention of researchers, governments, and all
the social partners. Some possible lines of investigation are:
Foreign investment policy
- scope for the development of competitive strengths among individual
firms and "clusters" of producers in specific areas: for example exotic
agricultural products, tropical agro-industrial products, biotechnology
products, culturally unique manufactures, information services, music
and other cultural exports, and non-traditional tourism - eco-tourism,
sports tourism, and cultural tourism;
- scope for linking small and medium enterprises to export industries
to promote the creation of employment and to reduce poverty;
- nature of policy instruments (tax incentives, credits, training
grants, R&D support, etc.) required;
- feasible public-private sector collaboration (Lall 1995; Girvan and
- scope for making strategic alliances with TNCs for product
development, production and marketing in selected activities;
- scope and mechanisms for tapping into the Caribbean diaspora abroad
as sources of investment c capital, management and technology for
development within the region.
- cooperation/coordination in external trade negotiations between
Caricom and non-Caricom states;
- early completion of the Caricom Single Market and Economy and
establishment of a wider Caribbean Free Trade Area between Caricom and
non-Caricom states and other entities;
- monetary cooperation within Caricom and between Caricom and
non-Caricom states to facilitate monetary and exchange rate stability as
an element in macroeconomic management;
- Caribbean-Central American trade cooperation and possible
establishment of an ACS Free Trade Area;
- development of foreign language skills - English, Spanish, German,
Japanese - among the population of the region.
VI. INFOCOMMUNICATIONS REVOLUTION
Rapid advances in information and communication technologies, and their
growing convergence - the linking of computer systems through
telecommunications networks - portend the arrival of a new
"techno-economic paradigm" (Perez 1985). For the Caribbean, three features
of this development should be considered.
New opportunities in production and trade have been opened up by the
growth of the global infocommunications industry, a massive complex worth
$1.3 trillion annually, equivalent to 6 percent of world GDP (ITU:1995,1).
This embraces a wide range of related goods and services:
telecommunications services and equipment manufacture, computer hardware,
software, peripherals, and related services, information services, and
audiovisual services (ITU 1995:1). Caribbean participation in production
has been confined almost entirely to data-entry and other information
processing activities, now employing over 7,000 people in the region
(Pantin 1995: Table 1).
However, this is at the low-technology, low-wage end of the industry,
where long-term survival prospects are threatened by the emergence of more
advanced technologies, and by the growing locational advantages of
proximity to customers. The need is to move rapidly into higher value
information services which are more knowledge and skill intensive and more
product differentiated and into software.
The English-speaking Caribbean is relatively well positioned, by virtue
of language, education levels and location, to develop new export service
industries in these areas (Schware and Hume 1996). However, substantial
expansion in the supply of information professionals will be needed
(Reichgelt 1996), as well as provision of venture capital and tax
incentives for innovator firms setting up in these areas (World Bank
The "global information infrastructure" has emerged as a rapidly
growing vehicle for the marketing and sourcing of goods and services, and
for the delivery of new information services (20). Use of
Informatics has resulted in new methods of competing in international
markets: what was formerly the "best practice" is fast becoming the
"standard practice". Access to this infrastructure will be crucial for
producers and exporters in the region.
Chart 12. Telephone
As Chart 12 shows, such access is highly uneven among countries in
the region. Although most countries have some access to the Internet,
problems arise in the availability of telephone lines and of digital
networks. The dependent territories and the smaller island states, and
Trinidad and Tobago, have telephone density indicators which compare
favourably with that of the developing world as a whole. In most Caricom
states, Guyana excepted, there has been substantial investment in
expansion and technological modernization in recent years. The situation
is less favourable for the larger island and mainland countries, and for
small enterprises and the rural population in most countries. In Cuba, the
Dominican Republic, Haiti and Guyana, substantial expansion and
digitalization of telecommunications networks is needed.
Most countries also need to update telecommunications regulatory
regimes. Though privatization has induced substantial investment in
telecommunications networks, regulatory regimes have lagged behind
technology, failing to address the functions of the system as a base for
value added network services (Schware and Hume 1996; Girvan 1997). In the
English-speaking Caribbean, telecommunications are a virtual monopoly of
the British TNC, Cable and Wireless (21). Jamaica and
the OECS countries have had major problems in the pricing and availability
of the services provided to the data entry industry by C&W under its
exclusive franchise. Coordinated or joint negotiation with C&W is a
logical step (already proposed by Barbados and the OECS acting together).
Wider technical cooperation among countries in the updating of regulatory
regimes should be of value.
Countries will also need to launch national computerization and
informatics programmes to facilitate access and use. Such programmes
aim to (a) computerize and network government administration, (b) spread
the effective use of informatics in business, especially small and medium
enterprises, (c) establish computer-aided education as an integral element
in the school curriculum, and (d) establish national information
infrastructures to link the public, private, and education sectors
together and with the outside world.
Organization and socio-cultural change
Far-reaching changes in the organization of work and management
practices are associated with the use of new information technologies in
business organizations. Examples are just-in-time production, flexible
specialization, use of electronic data interchange to effect coordination
of production and marketing among widely dispersed firms, and use of
network computing for design and strategic planning. Hence successful use
of informatics by firms and countries is enhanced by socio-cultural change
emphasizing cooperation and teamwork, non-authoritarian management styles,
initiative, flexibility, responsiveness and willingness to change
generally (Tapscott and Caston 1993).
This could pose some problems in Caribbean cultures with their deeply
entrenched adversarial and distrustful attitudes in labour relations; wide
social distance and strong barriers to communication between management
and labour; ethnic antagonism and distrust among workers; individualism
and resistance to change generally. The kind of socio-cultural change that
will be needed begins with heightened awareness, and the exercise of
leadership by opinion-makers, educators, policy-makers and
decision-takers. Innovative education, and incentives for "best-practice"
organizations, may have a crucial role to play. This is an area in which
multidisicplinary research is particularly relevant.
VII. THE THRUST TOWARDS SUSTAINABILITY
Small island ecosystems are recognized to be especially fragile as a
result of their small land mass and limited biodiversity. Together with
the relatively undiversified and highly resource-based nature of Caribbean
economies, this makes the region highly vulnerable to ecostress, whether
global or local in origin. Two main kinds of responses will be highlighted
Global ecostress: international negotiation
Probable effects of the global ecological crisis including changes in
climate, rise in the sea level, increasing intensity of hurricanes, world
food shortages, and rising international economic and political
instability, will impact with especial severity on small island developing
These countries have already come together to negotiate as a group in the
UNCED and SIDS Conferences. This allowed them to pool their bargaining
power and draw on a common fund of scarce scientific and technical
information. The need for this kind of collaboration will continue to grow
with the persistence, and possible worsening, of the global ecological
crisis. Cooperation in this area will need to be both intraregional and
Local ecostress: environmental management capabilities
More immediate sources of ecostress originate in the drive to growth
and development in the region in the past 30-40 years: expansion of
industry, tourism and transport and the chemicalization of agriculture;
rural-urban migration and the proliferation of formal and informal housing
settlements; and population growth. The ecological impact of these
developments includes large-scale deforestation, degradation of watersheds
and of the coastal and marine environment, mounting unmanageability of
sewage and solid waste disposal, and rapid deterioration of air and water
quality in heavily populated areas. Some economic consequences have been a
marked deterioration in the quality of the tourist product, steep
increases in infrastructural repair and maintenance costs due to flooding,
mounting health care costs associated with the effects of pollution, and
notable deterioration in the physical quality of life in urban areas.
Considerable technical information documenting the extent of these
environmental problems has been accumulated in recent years (23). To a large
extent, the technical solutions are also reasonably well known. The
biggest challenges to environmental management lie in the complexities of
the society-economy-ecology interaction: for example, where the
livelihoods of poor communities are based on the use of non-renewable
resources; or where environmental goods and services need to be valued
adequately in order for investment decisions to be made. It is in these
areas of intersecting knowledge systems that research is needed in order
to provide the necessary information so that sound policies can be made.
Among the issues which require attention are
- planning and decision systems to analyze the trade-offs
between income/employment/poverty reduction on the one hand and
ecological sustainability on the other hand; and to analyze the costs
and benefits of alternative uses of scarce environmental resources, such
as land use for housing, agriculture, industry, infrastructure, or
- methods of involving local and national communities in
environmental management: alternative institutional arrangements for
community involvement in resource management; environmental education;
entitlements to scarce environmental goods and services;
- policy instruments and policy implementation mechanisms:
appropriate combination of regulations vis-à-vis market-based economic
instruments in the actual conditions of specific economies and
institutional structures in the region, for achieving environmental
Policy areas in coping with global
A. FOUNDATION STONES
1. Equity and social cohesion B. ACTORS
Human Resource Development
4. State C. ENABLERS
6. Sciences and Technology
VIII. AREAS FOR POLICY AND RESEARCH
In this final section we highlight seven broad, cross-cutting policy
areas which are common to all the tasks of coping with global change in
its different dimensions while pursuing internal development objectives.
We suggest that this list provides a more suitable framework for research
than that of dividing research tasks into the economic, the technological
and the environmental. The areas are categorized as foundation stones,
actors, and enablers (Box 1). Relationships with research and
with proactive strategies are shown in Figure 1.
A. Foundation Stones
1. Equity and social cohesionAlthough this lies outside of
the immediate scope of this paper, it would appear to be the sine qua
non of effective action in the other six areas. Equity in this context
means equality of opportunity, access to common services and of treatment
for every individual regardless of social or ethnic origin or gender;
respect for ethnic and cultural minorities, and protection of the weak and
defenceless. This is both a moral imperative, and a necessary condition
for the construction of social cohesion and consensus. Research on the
bases of ethnic and social fragmentation should seek to identify the bases
for the kind of cooperation, social solidarity, and commitment to the
common long-term good that are basic ingredients of successful strategies.
A similar significance hold for
governance. Most Caribbean societies have adopted western political
institutions, in form if not necessarily in substance. Guarantees of basic
civil and political rights have often been achieved at the price of
destructive competition for political office, over-concentration of power
in the executive, and limited accountability. Some of the dysfunctional
consequences of this have been: the exacerbation of ethnic, class and
"tribal" (party) divisions; decisions motivated by short-term political
considerations at the expense of long-term strategic planning;
unwillingness to take political risks with potentially unpopular issues;
institutionalization of the spoils system and its correlates, patronage
and clientelism; incompetent and corrupt management of state institutions;
and finally, cynicism and alienation from the political process on the
part of ordinary citizens.
Research on the reform of governance might focus on three main areas:
A skilled, creative
and motivated population is the bedrock of effective coping strategies.
The deficiencies of the education system in the region have been well
documented (Miller 1992; World Bank 1993). The problems are both
quantitative and qualitative. To quote a recent World Bank report, "Until
the primary schools can significantly improve the performance level of
their graduates, and secondary schools and tertiary institutions offer a
sound education for a much larger proportion of the age group than is
currently the case, it is unlikely that most Caribbean countries' labour
force will be capable of supporting a development strategy dependent more
on human than on natural resources." (World Bank 1993: 44) (24).
Quantitative and qualitative improvements are required especially in
Early Childhood Education, Primary Education, and Secondary Technical and
Vocational Education. For example Governments need to accept financial
responsibility for Early Childhood Education, for it is at this level that
learning foundations are laid and inter-generation cycles of poverty and
low educational attainment can be broken. At the primary level expanded
resources are needed to attain 90-100 percent rates of functional
literacy, numeracy, computer literacy at the Grade 6 level, and a minimum
60 percent rate of mastery of basic scientific and social concepts (Miller
1992: 41-80). The secondary level is also relatively under-resourced,
especially technical and vocational education which still attracts low
prestige in most countries.
Given resource limitations in most Caribbean countries, research should
be directed towards the effective cost-delivery of education, and
the financing of education. The other area in which research can
make a contribution is in the content of education--curricula and
methods of instruction/learning, with an eye to the strategic importance
of scientific and technological education, creativity in problem-solving,
and teamwork, in the emerging techno-economic paradigm.
4. Strengthening of state strategic planning and management
capabilitiesAll of the coping strategies discussed in this paper
require a state apparatus which is efficient, technically competent, and
highly respected by the civil society. In many countries in the region
state capacities have been ravaged by the effects of structural adjustment
policies, which have meant severe staff cut-backs, decline in public
sector remuneration vis-à-vis the private sector, falling status and
prestige of public service, and a steep increase in corruption. Growth in
the volume and technical complexity of the tasks to be performed by state
institutions will place strong demands on their managerial capabilities.
Several issues need to be addressed in strengthening the capabilities
of the state: for example adequate remuneration and career paths,
provision of facilities for continuous training and learning, and a
culture of innovativeness and responsiveness. Perhaps the critical step
will be acceptance of a social partnership framework in which the
state provides leadership, with the private sector and civil society as
legitimate and active partners. This ties up with reform of governance,
and is an area in which research can make a contribution.
5. Fostering of local entrepreneurshipHere it is important
to focus on entrepreneurship rather than merely on "private sector
activity". Entrepreneurship in this context refers to those skills and
attitudes by business enterprises which underlie the development of
competitive advantages by firms and industrial clusters. Its elements are
a positive attitude to innovation (25) and
willingness to invest in research and development; willingness to take
risks; investment in staff development and recognition of the role of
workers as a source of innovation and quality improvement; use of
indigenous human, cultural and natural resources to develop new goods and
services; use of support services from the state and local R&D
institutions for product innovation and marketing; and effective use of
new informatics technologies as a production and marketing tool.
Entrepreneurial behaviour appears to be conditioned both by the
proximate variables of economic policy and the nature of public-private
sector relations, and by the contextual variables of culture and
historical experience. Because so much entrepreneurial behaviour is
culture and country specific, "market-friendly" policies that stimulate
entrepreneurship in one environment may elicit weak results in another;
whilst interventionist policies that foster entrepreneurship in one
cultural and social framework may have disastrous results in another.
Hence detailed research is needed on the cultural and the policy
variables, that influence entrepreneurial behaviour in specific
Caribbean environments. Recent studies of the culture of entrepreneurship
in Trinidad and Tobago (Ryan et al 1995), and on innovative
behaviour at the level of the firm (Girvan and Marcelle 1990) indicate
that useful insights can result from this kind of research.
6. Science and technology policyScience and technology
feed directly into the strengthening of the state's planning and
management capabilities and into the fostering of local entrepreneurship.
In an age in which new infocommunication technologies,
ecology-economy-society interactions, and science and technology assume
central importance. For example, development of competitive strengths by
firms and industrial clusters involve the use of imported technology
combined with local research and development for technology adaptation and
innovation with special attention to the crucial role of informatics.
S&T policy involves a range of activities: aligning goals for the
S&T sector with broad national and regional strategies; S&T human
resource development in technical and vocational education as well as the
tertiary/professional level; public funding of strategic R&D projects;
and incentives and financial support for private sector R&D and staff
training programmes in new technologies. Key tasks for research in this
subject area are:
Scope for regional
cooperation exists across a wide range of activities: in external trade,
security and environmental negotiations (Demas 1996); in bargaining with
TNCs; in economic diversification and the promotion of new sources of
competitiveness (Girvan and Samuel 1993); in human resource development;
in environmental management; in science and technology especially
telecommunications and informatics; in developing language skills; and in
developing cultural, sports and recreational services.
- methods of cost-efficient S&T planning and programming in small
countries with limited financial and human resources; and
- experiences, and effective policy instruments, to link S&T to
innovation and problem-solving at the level of individual firms.
7. Regional cooperation
An institutional framework for regional cooperation already exists in
the form of several organizations. The member states of the Organization
of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) cooperate across a wide area including
trade negotiations and trade promotion, strategic planning and sectorial
policy and planning, human resource development and training, finance,
administration and public sector management, and bulk purchasing of
pharmaceuticals. They also share ownership of the highly successful
Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, and are working towards the establishment
of an OECS Single Market. The Caribbean Community (Caricom) has served as
a vehicle for trade liberalization and functional cooperation among its
member states since 1973. Caricom recently admitted its first two
non-English speaking members (Suriname and Haiti), and has close ties with
the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Puerto Rica. Expansion of Caricom to
include these three states would transform the community into a truly
Caribbean body and provide a solid framework for trade and functional
Other institutions of broader regional cooperation include the
Caribbean Development and Cooperation Committee (CDCC) of ECLAC; the
Caribbean Group for Economic Development (CGCED) of the World Bank; the
Association of Caribbean States (ACS); and the Latin American Economic
Experience of these and other institutions show that there are many
obstacles to closer regional cooperation which have to be overcome:
competitive economic structures; limited scope for intraregional trade
especially for the smaller, less industrialized economies; and differences
in language, culture, legal arrangements, and perceptions of economic
interests. Identifying such obstacles at the necessary level of detail,
and the modalities of cooperation which might overcome them, will be a
great challenge to researchers across the region.
Finally, there is the issue of the meaning and limitations of
"sovereignty" in the context of the contemporary Caribbean. Recent
developments point to growing pressure on the already constrained
political and economic sovereignty of Caribbean states. They include the
maintenance and tightening of the US embargo on Cuba, the "Shiprider"
agreements with the United States, the obligations of the WTO Treaty and
the FTAA process, and the conditionalities of the multilateral and
Do these developments indicate that the postcolonial state in the
Caribbean has exhausted its potential as a vehicle of political and
economic sovereignty? Does regionalism offer a feasible alternative for
the pooling of "sovereignties" in responding to the challenges of
hemispheric consolidation and of globalization? Can Caribbean societies
develop the degree of shared vision and commitment to regionalism required
to make it work? Research alone cannot provide answers to these questions;
but it can, and should, contribute to this process.
Table A2. Trade
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1. Caricom also also has three
associate members whioh are British dependent territories (see Table 1).
2. This is not to downplay the significance and
potential of the ACS as an instrument of wider regional co-operation.
3. These are still small countries by international
standards. The most populous is Cuba with about 11 million people.
4. It will be noted that the dependent territories
themselves consist of one larger island (Puerto Rico, with a population
of 3.6 million), 10 smaller island territories (with just
463,000 people between them); and mainland French Guiana. Merger
with the three other groups would show the larger islands as
having 92 percent of the region’s population and the mainland
entities 77 percent of the land area. However there would be wide
disparities in PCI levels within the groups.
5. The reader may wish to compare the PPP PCI data in
Table 7 with the PCI data in Table 1.
6. See Section III below.
7. The recent experience in Montserrat, whose
11,000 people have had their lives disrupted for the past two years by a
volcanic eruption is instructive. Montserrat has statistically the highest
PCI in the Caribbean, over $26,000.
8. Exports and imports of goods and services. For
some countries, data are available for goods only.
9. Trade/GDP averages for subgroups are
weighted by respective GDPs
10. This was in response to a protest
lodged by the Government of the United States on behalf of the
U.S. banana transnational companies, which wish greater market
access in the EU for their bananas exported from Central and South
11. Barbados still remains at the top of the
human development rank among developing countries
12. Data for Cuba not available.
13. As Table 8 shows, however, poverty rates
and unemployment rates are not always strongly correlated.
14. As a ratio of merchandise exports, gross
remittances from abroad in the early 1990s were: 71 percent in the case of
the Dominican Republic, 32 percent in Haiti, 29 percent for Jamaica, and
17 percent for Barbados (Samuel 1996: Table 6).
15. For example in political thought and action, the
Caribbean has produced, among others, Toussaint L'Ouverture, Jose Martí,
Marcus Garvey, C.L.R. James, Frantz Fanon, Fidel Castro, Eric Williams,
Cheddi Jagan, Michael Manley, Walter Rodney, and Maurice
Bishop; in literature, Nicholas Guillen, Aimé Cesaire, Derek
Walcott, and V.S. Naipaul and in international sporting events, Caribbean
athletes win medals at a rate which is out of proportion to the population
while baseball and cricket teams have many successes. The world
sings and dances to Caribbean music: soca and salsa, reggae and merengue,
and Bob Marley. The tiny island of St. Lucia has produced two Nobel
Laureates - Arthur Lewis in Economics and Derek Walcott in Literature.
16. Ref. the words of Marcus Garvey: "I want our
people to think for themselves"; and the lyrics of Bob Marley: "Emancipate
yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds".
17. e.g. Guyana since 1993, Cuba since 1994.
18. e.g. Jamaica, where trade and financial
liberalization was followed by hyperinflation, high interest rates, and a
series of bank failures.
19. The distinction is suggested by Levitt 1996.
20. This is defined by the International
Telecommunications Union as wired and mobile telephones, cable TV, and the
Internet. The ITU estimates that 86 million new subscribers were added to
the above services in 1994 alone (ITU 1995:1).
21. Cable and Wireless is the majority owner or
managing minority shareholder in: Antigua, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada,
Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, and Trinidad and
Tobago. Source: CANTO (Caribbean Association of National
Telecommunications Organizations), Library Education Resource Centre.
22. This has been recognized by the organization of
the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Small Island
Developing States (SIDS), in 1994. The larger Caribbean island states, as
well as the Caribbean mainland countries, were officially included in the
coverage of the SIDS Conference.
23. For example, Country Environment Profiles have
been prepared for most of the English-speaking Caribbean countries.
24. The same report estimates that, in most
countries in the English-speaking Caribbean, less than 15 percent of
primary school entrants at present have a probability of attaining
Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) English, less than 10 percent have a
probability of attaining CXC Math, and less than 5 percent have a
probability of attaining 4 or more CXC passes (World Bank 1993:45).
25. i.e. in the Schumpeterian sense.
Norman Girvan is a Professor of the
Consortium Graduate School of Social Sciences, University of the West
Indies, Mona, Jamaica (email firstname.lastname@example.org). The
author's main publications include: The Caribbean Bauxite Industry
(1971); Multinational Corporations and Dependent Underdevelopment in
Mineral-Export Economies (1971); Foreign Capital and Economic
Underdevelopment in Jamaica (1971); Readings in the Political
Economy of the Caribbean (edited, with O. Jefferson, 1972); Copper
in Chile (1972); Dependence and Underdevelopment in the New World
and the Old (edited, 1972); Corporate Imperialism, Conflict and
Expropriation (1976); The IMF and the Third World: the case of
Jamaica 1975-1980 (1980); Technology Policies for Small Developing
Economies: a case study of the Caribbean (1983); Development in
Suspense: papers and proceedings of the First Conference of Caribbean
Economists (edited, with G. Beckford, 1988); Managing International
Technology Transfer: a strategic approach (with K. Hoffman, 1990);
Caribbean Ecology and Economics (edited, with D. Simmons, 1992);
Working Together for Development: D.T.M. Girvan on Cooperatives and
Community Development 1929-1968 (edited, 1994); Poverty,
Empowerment and Social Development in the Caribbean (edited, 1997).