Call to target region’s long-term growth
A former deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago has suggested that the Caribbean needs to focus on creating new economic engines which can drive long-term development.
Addressing the Central Bank of Barbados’ Annual Review Seminar last Wednesday at the Radisson Aquatica Resort, Dr Shelton Nicholls insisted that the region had to zero in on three key imperatives.
The first was to reform and diversify its productive sectors to enable the emergence of a new set of goods and services.
Secondly, he called for the development of a more rapid and focused export diversification thrust towards new and emerging growth poles.
“A third imperative revolves around finding the right mix of financial instruments to finance long-term growth and development in the region,” Nicholls added.
He cited agriculture and the creative and cultural industries as two areas which could help with the economic transformation of the region.
“There is an urgent need for the region to begin to utilize its significant agricultural land masses in Guyana, Belize and Suriname to not only supply organically grown food staples for the Caribbean region but to also produce for export.
“This would allow the development of synergies between agriculture and the health sectors, could reduce the significant food import bill for the region while at the same time allowing the region to maintain high nutritional and dietary standards,” he said.
The former executive director of the Caribbean Centre for Monetary Studies, now the Caribbean Centre for Money and Finance, also pointed out that Caribbean countries had always possessed some degree of competitive advantage in the cultural and creative sector which had not been adequately exploited.
“If this sector is to be internationally competitive, we must be prepared to move it from the margins of economic activity where it exists almost as an outside child to the centre of economic policy formulation,” he said.
With regard to export diversification, Nicholls said the region had to start investing more heavily in understanding the cultures of emerging markets like China, India, Latin America and Africa while also finding ways to give these new growth poles a better appreciation and understanding of what the Caribbean had to offer.
In addition, he suggested that the time might be right for central banks of the region and the Caribbean Development Bank to get together and issue a suite of long-term development bonds in the liquid markets in the region to kick-start the region’s development drive.
“In the past, we have relied heavily on official multilateral inflows to fund various aspects of our development programmes but these have been diminishing considerably in the aftermath of the global financial crisis.
“While we are in the process of exploring funding opportunities from the new growth poles, we also need to look at opportunities in our own spheres,” he said. (NB)