Caribbean economies continue to face growth challenges in 2016

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Jacqueline Charles (Miami Herald) reports on the ongoing challenges that Caribbean economies are facing in 2016, highlighting the Bahamas, Belize, Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, and Guyana. Dominica, the Dominican Republic, St. Kitts and Nevis, Cuba, Haiti, and Jamaica are among the countries promising economic growth in the near future.

As Belize Prime Minister Dean Barrow welcomed Caribbean Community leaders to his English-speaking Central-American nation last month, there was one topic that he couldn’t ignore. “There has been a failure of the world economy to recover properly from the shock of the financial crisis,” Barrow said, touching on an all-too-familiar concern among leaders of the 15-member regional bloc known as Caricom. “That failure, for the majority of us in Caricom, has meant slow growth, increasing difficulties with our public finances, and tremendous strains on our capacity to satisfy the life-improvement aspirations of our people.”

Indeed, the decline in global economic growth from 3.4 percent in 2014 to 3.1 percent last year provided for a difficult economic year for the region’s economies, the Caribbean Development Bank said.

Still tourism in the region set new arrival and spending records. [. . .] But while Riley and other Caribbean tourism officials are glowing, economists and prime ministers remain guarded. The region faces a mixed economic outlook in 2016 as a new mosquito-borne virus, Zika, threatens tourism goals, and falling commodity prices impact the fortunes of exporters such as Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname and Guyana. Caribbean nations that export hydrocarbons and minerals, for example, can expect to see their trade numbers deteriorate.

Overall, Caribbean economies in 2016 are expected to grow by just 0.2 percent with the English-speaking nations in the region predicted to do a little better at 1.6 percent, according to the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

In Santiago, Chile, the United Nations regional organization presented its annual report Preliminary Overview of the Economies of Latin America and the Caribbean 2015, in which it updated the estimates given last October and called again on the region’s countries to invigorate economic growth through greater investment and higher productivity.

It is forecasting that Dominica, which is still recovering from Tropical Storm Erika in August, and the Dominican Republic will lead the Caribbean growth at 5.2 percent, followed by St. Kitts and Nevis at 4.7 percent. Meanwhile, Cuba, which has been enjoying improved relations with the United States and a loosening of restrictions, is expected to grow by 4.2 percent. [. . .]

William Warren Smith, the head of the Caribbean Development Bank, said Caribbean economies remain in recovery mode. [. . .] Smith noted that the Caribbean’s economic recovery is “occurring at a time of great uncertainty in what is emerging as a somewhat topsy-turvy external environment.” [. . .]

For full article and details on specific countries, see http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/article68393292.html#emlnl=The_Americas

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