EDITORIAL: Repositioning C’bean economies
TOWARDS the end of last year regional manufacturers came together to form a CARICOM Manufacturers’ Association.
The parties mainly from Barbados, Dominica, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago, pooled their resources to create the body which they said is aimed at giving more depth to manufacturing while broadening the base of regional economies.
The initiative was welcomed by all the participating countries who believed that it signals a positive development for the Caribbean which is operating in a very hostile global environment.
In a focus carried in our business magazine, the point was made that the association represents an important gesture that will give new meaning to manufacturing, especially in those territories where manufacturing is not so well entrenched as in other places.
Currently the economies of Caribbean territories are segmented into tourism, and commodities like energy and bauxite. Some territories also have agriculture, and others have a more diversified set up. However, manufacturing is not predominant in all of the islands.
It is known from all the facts and figures that Trinidad and Tobago remains the power house in manufacturing in the Caribbean. Businessmen in that country have invested widely in several facets of manufacturing.
They have used their country’s abundance of energy resources to give them a competitive advantage, that has seen them exporting to all corners of the Caribbean and with much success.
Other countries like Barbados, Guyana, St. Lucia, Jamaica and some in the OECS have manufacturing enterprises but not to the extent of Trinidad and Tobago.
This new association will allow for better and robust economies.
It is believed that some of the territories need to reorient their economies with a larger and productive base that includes manufacturing.
The days of a single sector dominating a country’s economy have long past. The message has gone out far and wide that governments need to take hold of their economies and reposition them to earn more foreign exchange. This can be done by having manufacturing and other export industries operating along tourism or energy or whatever the case may be.
As the Government of Barbados Chief Economic Adviser, Dr. Kevin Greenidge said recently on television, foreign exchange is the life blood of an economy and the more opportunities there are to earn it, the better.
Interestingly enough, this is a point made repeatedly by the former Government of the Central Bank of Barbados, Dr. Delisle Worrell. In fact, Dr. Worrell has maintained that this country’s foreign exchange earning sectors should be the ones to boost economic growth in the country.
Foreign exchange is necessary to finance imports, pay down debt, and among other things defend a country’s exchange rate. It should not be a case where inflows from foreign borrowing must be promoted as policy along with the earnings from a single economic sector.
So it is a point made often not only in Barbados but in other places as well where the need arises for economic reforms and new ways of doing business.
Our interest in this gesture will be to see how participating countries interact with each other and how they give support to the efforts of trading partners. There must be cooperation, nothing more nothing less.