High Expectations

Sep 1, 2005

With the bottom falling out of agricultural markets, Caribbean governments are now being forced to diversify their economies and get serious about economic integration.

The time has come for the Caribbean to stand up and be counted, according to the president of the Dominican Republic, Leonel Fernández. "Some measures must be taken in order to level the playing field between small economies and large-scale economies in doing fair trade," he says.

Recent victories at the World Trade Organization for Latin American countries disallowing the European Union's tariffs on banana imports will be another blow for banana producers of the Caribbean. Preferential sugar pricing agreements with the European Union are also being axed and protections for banana and textile producers are being phased out, worsening critical employment problems for countries that are already battling to remain competitive.

"The Caribbean, like many other parts of Central and South America, is facing a number of changes politically and economically. The opening up of markets and change of import quotas has positive as well as negative...

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