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Caribbean Amongst Last Regions To Recover

by Glen Shapiro,, New York

26 April 2010

Commenting upon the release of the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF's) World Economic Outlook Report, Chief of the World Economic Division, Petya Koeva Brooks, warned that the Caribbean region can expect a protracted recovery from the financial economic crisis, despite a return of more favorable conditions globally.

Brooks said that whilst Latin America will recover robustly from the global downturn with growth of around 4.1% this year, the recovery in the Caribbean is expected to be substantially more protracted, particularly in light of falling receipts from tourism, having taken the brunt of rising unemployment in advanced economies, particularly in Europe.

“The Caribbean is one of the regions in the world which is among the most affected by the global crisis," said Brooks. "It is interesting if you look at the average growth rate for 2010/2011 to discover which countries have negative growth rates. Of course the most countries in that category are in central and eastern Europe but the second most is in the Caribbean."

She accredited this to a number of factors. First, she explained that Caribbean nations benefited from the fall in commodity prices as they were able to export more goods internationally. The region has, however, has suffered since commodity prices rebounded.

Furthermore, she explained that high debt levels among Caribbean nations restricted the amount of stimulus that governments could introduce to support their economies.

"All in all it was a perfect storm in terms of having a negative impact on many Caribbean economies. Because of this we expect the recovery of the Caribbean to be relatively slow," said Brooks.

Noting recommendations in the report for the region, Brooks said that the IMF had recommended that the islands diversify their economies away from their heavy dependence on tourism revenues, and focus on improving their financial services offerings.

"The dependence on tourism is indeed quite striking, but that is for good reason because the Caribbean has a competitive advantage there. In the upcoming Regional Economic Outlook you will see some estimates linking unemployment rates in OECD countries to tourist arrivals and the growth rate in Caribbean countries and we are seeing a very strong link there. Tourism will remain a key sector of Caribbean economies but more broadly it would be wise to improve the investment environment and attract more [foreign direct investment]."

TAGS: Haiti | investment | economics | Bahamas | Montserrat | Saint Lucia | Saint Vincent and the Grenadines | fiscal policy | law | financial services | International Monetary Fund (IMF) | Bermuda | Cayman Islands | Guadeloupe | Jamaica | Trinidad and Tobago | Turks and Caicos Islands | Virgin Islands | unemployment | Anguilla | Antigua and Barbuda | Dominica | Dominican Republic | Martinique | Puerto Rico | Saint Kitts and Nevis | Barbados | British Virgin Islands | services

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