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Economy of the Caribbean: Wikis

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Natural Resources

By international standards, the nations of the Caribbean are not rich in natural resources. The resources that make significant contributions to domestic economies and regional job sectors include, but are not limited to: fisheries, bauxite, iron, nickel, petroleum and timber,. It has been noted by some that the Caribbean’s most important resource is its tropical island setting, which has generated a unique tourism sector. The greatest concentrations of minerals most valuable on the international market are found in: Cuba, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago. In fact, Cuba’s economic rebound in the early 1990s is often associated with increased production in tourism, oil, and nickel, spurred by foreign investment in these primary industries. However, it can be noted that a drop in international prices has since reduced Cuba’s earnings. Notably, most new resource expansion in Cuba has concentrated on petroleum deposits, including offshore fields. Jamaica’s bauxite and alumina industry are second only to Trinidad’s petroleum sector as the leading export within CARICOM. Jamaica’s bauxite and alumina industry is dominated by North American firms, and hence these resources have traditionally been exported northwards. The leading Caribbean export comes from Trinidad and Tobago, which possesses substantial petroleum reserves, and is regarded as the richest country in terms of natural resources. As a result of this, Trinidad also maintains the regional role of producer of heavy industrial products, such as asphalt, ammonia, and iron.

Agriculture

Along with contributing to the Caribbean’s GDP, agriculture also contributes to domestic food supply, and provides employment. While agriculture is the major economic land-use activity in most Caribbean countries, agriculture accounts for less and less of most islands’ GDP. However, unlike many developed countries, this trend may be accounted for by a growing tertiary sector, as opposed to industrial growth (with the exception of Trinidad and Tobago, and Puerto Rico)The industry association for Caribbean agriculture is the Caribbean Food Crop Society.

Globalization: Challenges and Prospects

While globalization in its modern context undoubtedly has changed the dynamic of Caribbean economics, it is worth noting that “the countries of the commonwealth have been passively integrated into the international economy for all of their modern history”. From foundations built on the plantation economy, the Caribbean economy has always involved reliance on one or several export sectors. While numerous attempts at market diversification have been made, the struggle to develop the political and economic infrastructure necessary to successfully respond to market fluctuations, and loss of competitiveness, in key export sectors remains a struggle. A recent example includes the dismantling of the Lome Convention, which provided Caribbean Banana exports preferential treatment from the EU, by the WTO in 1999.

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See also

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