Should the Caribbean be concerned?

The era of globalisation, towards the end of the 20th Century, produced more development thrust and wealth for impoverished countries that were former colonies of European states than ever. In this new ‘global village’ ports in the Caribbean region were expanded and modernised to keep pace with national economic growth.

In recent years however there have been concern that this era of globalisation of trade and open markets may be coming to an end. Increasingly governments are protecting local producers, aggressively promoting ‘buy local’ campaigns.

Such concerns were again brought to the fore this past week (June 1, 2023) by the International Monetary Fund. Writing in the IMF Blog, Gita Bhatt noted that: “Even countries that once championed free trade are turning inward to isolate from rivals and secure strategic supplies of everything from computer chips to rare earths.” []

Dr. Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry

Caribbean [Dominica] national, Dr. Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, World Maritime University President, raised this matter previously.  She was concerned that the period of rapid global expansion and gains in alleviation of poverty, from which the Caribbean among other former European colonies have benefited, could be halted by a return to the old models of protectionism.

In an age of globalization, the world is going back to the old principles of the Westphalian state, she said in a webinar hosted by Barbados-based maritime procurement firm Alixum International Ltd. Noting recent examples of protectionist trends in North America and Europe, the former Director of the International Labour Standards Department of the International Labour Organization (ILO) described such policy changes as “a remarkable re-emergence of the Westphalian state”.

  • First published 2023, June 1

Read: Poverty from which the Caribbean and other former European colonies benefited could be halted by a return to protectionism.