Citing the need for a faster approach in the face of an unstable environment of economic turmoil, heads of state of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) have made a renewed commitment towards strengthening the economic infrastructure of the community.At the same time, the regional leaders have recognised the need for placing the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) on much “sounder footing.” This is according to President David Granger, the current chairman of the regional integration body.
Speaking to reporters at the Pegasus Hotel at the conclusion of the first of the two day inter-sessional summit in Georgetown on Thursday evening, President Granger noted that the main concern of the regional leaders is the state of the Caribbean economy.
He said that many of the commodities and services in the region have seen depressed prices when placed on the international market over the past two years. “We would like to ensure that the CSME is put on a sounder footing as quickly as possible so that the people of the region can have a better life,” the President said.
A recent report by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean said that after two consecutive years of economic contraction, Latin America and the Caribbean will experience a modest growth of 1.3% in 2017. ECLAC however called for revived public-private investment in order to resume short- and long-term growth and confront the risks and growing uncertainties posed by the international scenario. “We are at a turning point. Latin America and the Caribbean will resume growth but moderately and without clear engines driving it. Its recovery will be fragile as long as the uncertainties of the economic context continue, particularly the recently observed protectionist trends. For this reason, resuming the path of regional growth requires much caution and a reversal of the investment process dynamic, which will demand a significant mobilization of financial resources,” stated Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC)
According to the report, the region will close out 2016 with an average contraction of 1.1%. South America will be the sub-region most affected, with a decline of -2.4%, while the Caribbean will contract by 1.7% and Central America will have positive growth of 3.6%. With regard to growth projections for 2017, improved commodities prices would benefit the terms of trade for South America, which is forecast to resume growth with an increase in GDP of 0.9%, while the Caribbean is expected to grow by 1.3%, mainly due to tourism. Central America, meanwhile, is forecast to expand by 3.7%.
Crime and security
Meanwhile, President Granger noted that the discussions also touched on the issue of crime and security noting that the subject has always been a concern of the region. He noted that Caricom citizens reside within wide expanses of waterways and with limited resources to control the vast area without the collaboration of other countries. The President said that the issue of correspondent banking was also discussed on Thursday. He said that the subject is a matter of concern to CARICOM, noting that Antigua’s Prime Minister, Gaston Browne, spoke on the subject. According to the President, CARICOM will be taking a “collective approach “to the issue.
He said the question of de-risking have hurt some Caribbean economies noting that the matter is “quite unfair “since there has not been a “single case” in which any financial institution in the region has committed any acts of financial impropriety or fraud. President Granger noted that CARICOM will work to ensure that the banks in the more developed countries take “a more favourable approach” towards conducting businesses with their counterparts in the region.
The President in recapping the day’s session noted that of importance during the morning meeting was the fact that CARICOM heads welcomed the new President of Haiti, Jovenel Moise. He said the body was concerned about the difficult circumstances which Haiti faced over the years including disasters such as hurricanes, floods and earthquakes. President Granger said that CARICOM is also aware of the problems Haitian nationals face in other jurisdictions, noting that the body’s concerns were of a humanisation nature.