Rebuilding Growth

Jun 1, 2003

The Caribbean is battling a particularly difficult global environment. Economies throughout the region face serious challenges, although oil-rich Trinidad and Tobago is in better shape than most.

The Caribbean economy has been hanging by a thread for the past 18 months, and that thread continues to fray.The effects of a sluggish US economy, weak commodity prices and high oil prices are wreaking havoc on the Caribbean. Even an engine of growth like the Dominican Republic, whose economy streaked ahead year after year in the 1990s, is faltering.

Jamaica faces the toughest battle by far. Fetid slums and frighteningly high levels of violent crime blight Kingston, the capital, in a harsh contrast to the country's idyllic coastal resorts. The country suffered four major floods last year. Unemployment is running at 14%. Growth has averaged 0.5% since 1997 and last year the economy sputtered along at 2% even though the government ramped up spending ahead of elections in November. Prime Minister PJ Patterson won a third term and the People's National Party scored its fourth consecutive term in...

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