Growth returns to Caribbean Basin, but recovery is uneven

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Jaqueline Charles and Mimi Whitefield (Miami Herald) report on projections on Caribbean economic growth, citing experts from the U.N.’s Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), International Monetary Fund, the Caribbean Development Bank, the Latin America Economic Growth Initiative at the Atlantic Center’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center, and others.

Economic performance in the Caribbean will be uneven this year: Some economies will grow by 5 percent or more, but others will be lucky to eke out even negligible economic growth.

“The Dominican Republic and Guyana are expected to remain the strongest performers in the subregion,” according to the. “The outlook is less favorable in the Bahamas, Cuba and Trinidad and Tobago — countries with deep U.N.’s Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean -rooted structural impediments and high vulnerability to external developments.”

The Dominican Republic is projected to have 5.1 percent growth, while Guyana is expected to check in at 5 percent and St. Kitts and Nevis at 5.3 percent. On the other end of the spectrum are Trinidad and Tobago (.5 percent growth), the Bahamas (1 percent), Suriname (1.4 percent), and Cuba (1.5 percent).

Low global oil prices have dampened economic growth in oil-rich Trinidad and Tobago. “Hopefully Trinidad will have bottomed out from last year,” said Trevor Alleyne, Caribbean division chief at the International Monetary Fund. “For the region as a whole, Trinidad won’t be pulling down the region’s average as it was last year.”

While some Caribbean economies have little more than tourism to sustain themselves, even those with other resources can find themselves hurting. “It goes back to undisciplined fiscal policies,” Alleyne said. “When things were great, when oil was $100 per barrel and gold was high, they decided, ‘OK it’s time to party.’ When these prices plummeted, they found themselves without any buffers to manage that process.”

Institutional problems and political uncertainty have buffeted a Haitian economy already hit hard by natural disasters. Flooding from last year’s Hurricane Matthew and a prolonged drought have weighed heavily on growth, and the country is still feeling the after-effects of a devastating Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake. [. . .]

[Photo above: A woman in Roche a Bateau, Haiti, by Patrick Farrell, pfarrell@miamiherald.com.]

For full article, see http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/article146326224.html

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