Most Caribbean countries are still developing and are not on par with Western countries even though the West is very interested in the region both economically and geopolitically. The region is extremely vulnerable to natural hazards and its overreliance on aid and grants has at times harmed its economic and political interests.
Since the region relies heavily on travel and tourism, it has been one of the hardest hit regions in the world during the Covid-19 pandemic. As the wounds of the Covid-19 pandemic barely healed, she once again had to deal with the ramifications of the Ukrainian-Russian crisis. Finally, like the rest of the world, it has realized the importance of self-reliance and so many Caribbean countries are taking steps in this direction and trying to reduce their dependence on the West, especially the United States.
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Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago deepen relations
Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago (T&T), two of the leading economies in the Caribbean, have now come together to deepen their ties and increase their economic cooperation.
A delegation of 17 companies from the twin island republic of Trinidad and Tobago is currently in Jamaica on a trade mission, as reported Jamaica Observer. The T&T delegation is on a four-day trade mission to Jamaica.
The four-day visit by companies, which covers construction, food and beverage, logistics, packaging and printing, chemicals as well as other sectors, is part of an effort to develop and promote the bilateral export trade between countries.
Minister of Trade and Industry, T&T, Paula Gopee-Scoon, also called for a deepening of relations between the Caribbean countries. “We have to trade with each other; we need to be complementary in the trade we do to make sure the trade benefits both parties,” she said.
She further noted that Jamaica offers multiple investment and business opportunities, due to its geographical location, legal framework, economic stability and infrastructure.
“The country is identified as one of the most dynamic economies in the Caribbean. A review of overall trade statistics between Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago shows that trade between the two countries has been steadily improving over the years. She added again.
Overdependence in the United States
You see, the economies of the Caribbean countries are heavily dependent on the United States. For nearly 40 years, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has provided development assistance to the Caribbean region. Again, through the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI), a cornerstone of economic engagement between the United States and the Caribbean, the United States has provided considerable foreign assistance to the region, which , in turn, remains a reliable ally for the United States.
Additionally, the United States is the largest in the Caribbean commercial partner and, in turn, the Caribbean is the United States’ sixth-largest trading partner, with $35.3 billion flowing between them each year. Thus, the Caribbean remained longest under the American shadow.
However, with changing times and especially in the context of the Ukrainian-Russian crisis, the Caribbean is finally moving towards a semblance of self-sufficiency.
The Caribbean has a lot to learn from the EU, which is reeling from the worst energy crisis and, at worst, the US has abandoned it. Surely the Caribbean has learned an important lesson from Europe and rightly realized that self-reliance is extremely important in today’s tumultuous times.
Many Caribbean countries have recently taken steps to achieve this goal. The example of Port of Spain and Kingston reflects the same thing.
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A new era of cooperation
It should be mentioned here that Trinidad and Tobago is a resource-rich country and is the largest Caribbean natural gas producer in CARICOM and the second largest oil producer after Guyana. Jamaica is also one of the fastest growing economies and has achieved extraordinary economic recovery.
Deepening economic ties between the two countries will certainly be mutually beneficial and usher in a new era of economic cooperation in the region, which will ultimately help them rid themselves of their excessive dependence on the West. If successful, that day will not be far off when, outside of CARICOM, the Caribbean region will see even greater economic cooperation or vibrant economic groups that will be able to hold off the imperialist intentions of the West while leading the region towards a more self-sufficient economy.