SANTIAGO, Chile, May 31, CMC – The executive secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Alicia Bárcena, has urged Caribbean economic growth be based on investment, regional integration and innovation, at a forum on Caribbean development, held in Guyana on Wednesday.
“We propose a strategy for economic growth that prioritises structural change, based on investment, integration and innovation, as well as strengthening public action for redistributing resources and promoting equality,” said Bárcena in a video message to participants in the second Caribbean Development Round Table in Georgetown.
Bárcena said considering the on-going challenges to global economy, the role of integration has become more even more urgent.
The ECLAC chief has suggested the region should consider restructuring its economy and pursue closer regional integration in the light of the weaknesses exposed by the global economic crisis.
She called for the doubling of efforts to implement regional agreements that allow Caribbean countries to benefit from each other, emphasizing that trade agreements must be leveraged not only for the benefit of markets but also to foster technology transfer, investment and capacity building.
Bárcena said that with the world economic crisis, a drop in revenues from tourism and offshore financial services has revealed structural deficiencies among Caribbean economies, such as a lack of export diversification and the dependence on a reduced number of markets.
Organized by ECLAC’s sub-regional headquarters for the Caribbean in collaboration with the Guyana’s Office of the President, the roundtable is discussing “Macroeconomic Policies for a Structural Transformation and the Social Protection of Small States”.
ECLAC said government, business, international organisations and civil society representatives are discussing how small states can increase economic diversification, improve their access to financing sources and strengthen social safety nets while grappling with shrinking budgets.
“The search for new markets and trade relations that are consistent with the emerging innovative trade dynamics is an important factor to be included in new multilateral cooperation agendas,” she said.
“In fact, South-South cooperation is an essential strategy for small states to pursue sustainable development,” she added.
The ECLAC executive secretary said the second Caribbean Development Round Table constitutes “an opportunity for helping strengthen the relationship between Latin America and the Caribbean”.
She also stressed the importance of addressing and reducing the Caribbean’s vulnerability to natural disasters and the relevance of public capacity building for redistributing resources and promoting equality by protecting the most vulnerable population.
“When resources are limited, the financing of social welfare programmes must be well focused and better managed in order to offer real support to those who are more vulnerable,” Bárcena said.
“ECLAC suggests that equality, economic growth and environmental sustainability go hand in hand, supporting and strengthening each other,” she added.
“It is about equality for growth and growth for equality. Rights equality is an important principle implying equal opportunities, a long-term vision and a fiscal strategy focused not only on redistribution but also on the improvement of most vulnerable people’s capacities to become productively employed,” she continued.