Many Caribbean states deceptively classed as "middle income": St. Lucia

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Prime Minister Kenny Anthony of Saint Lucia

NARRATOR: Many of the decisions that affect St. Lucia and the world are still made solely and unilaterally in the capitals of others, and at times multilaterally in groups of 5, or 8, or 20, or 30.

That's what Prime Minister Kenny Anthony told the UN General Assembly during ts annual debate.

He noted that it is said that 80% of the world’s trade and economic activity is held in 20 countries.

TAPE: I can assure you Saint Lucia and all of the Caribbean Basin are beyond the limits of this geo-political circle. With little or no resources, diplomatic or otherwise, Saint Lucia can only speak with its moral courage, authority, and convictions.

Small islands are special places with special peculiarities that make us both unique yet vulnerable. Still, we know that if there is a willingness to support their growth and development, then small islands can be successful stories. Mr. Speaker, consider for instance that our fifteen member Caribbean Community has a combined population of seventeen million and an economy of about 89 billion US dollars. The US territory of Puerto Rico, itself part of the greater Caribbean, has a GDP of about 100 billion dollars. It suggests clearly that if there is support in trade and investment, though we may be small, our economies could grow. They could find sustainability.

NARRATOR:  Prime Minister Anthony stressed that the Caribbean Community has continuously made the point that many small states are deceptively classed as “middle income” on the mere basis of per capita. He explained that a country the size of Saint Lucia, with the vulnerabilities that we face, should not be subjected to such a measuring tool for determining whether a state can stand on its own.

TAPE: For instance,  Saint Lucia experienced one hurricane in 2010 that caused damage totaling nearly 30% of our GDP. One Category 2 hurricane, in one year.

Our island, and small states like ours, are then forced to become even more indebted as we have to borrow to replace infrastructure such as arterial roads and bridges, without which our country’s economy would face further contraction.

And even in the face of this, we are further impacted by unilateral domestic measures implemented in major developed states that place no sensitivity to matters such as our dependence on tourism, making our destinations even less desirable. Other islands that are highly dependent on international financial services are now suffering from the attempts by some states to sully the reputations of other states. When you place the burden of reduced foreign direct investment flows due to the Global Economic Crisis, and the recent announcement by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) that it has cut its forecast for global trade growth from 3.7% to 2.5%, though we live in a beautiful part of the world, the outlook looks grim.

NARRATOR: Prime Minister Anthony pointed out that it means that development cannot be just about assistance, but also means that small states require some fairness and balance in the world economic space.

This is Donn Bobb reporting.

Duration: 3’13″

Filed under Caribbean News.
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