THE EDITOR, Sir:
IT HAS become public knowledge that, because of the Eurozone debt crisis, Europe will become more inward looking and aid to the region will be significantly reduced. Further, based on the European Commission's differentiated development approach, the status of several middle-income Caribbean countries, like Jamaica, has been upgraded. Therefore, by 2014, these countries will no longer receive individual grants from the European Union (EU).
The EU will allocate a greater proportion of funds to countries that are most in need. Therefore, countries in the Caribbean with the potential to develop sustainable industries will benefit from new forms of partnerships with the EU. These partnerships will be in the form of regional programmes and they will be based on economic cooperation.
Europe expects the region to take advantage of the trade component of the Economic Partnership Agreement. The Caribbean will be seen as a major trading partner and not a beneficiary of aid. The time has come for the region to develop an export-oriented economic policy. Since most Caribbean states are highly indebted, Europe's new outlook will have a debilitating effect on the region's economy. However, this policy has an advantage, because it will encourage Caribbean leaders to prepare for 2014 and beyond.
We should reject the view that small states like those in the region are unable to develop in a highly competitive globalised environment. For too long, the Caribbean as played the role of the 'eternal mendicant'. The region has failed to exploit various trading agreements with North America and Europe; if this was done, real economic benefits would have been realised. Like many Caribbean states, Taiwan was once heavily dependent on foreign aid, but the country is a major provider of aid to the Caribbean. The economic transformation of Taiwan's economy occurred because of capable leadership which is lacking in the region and massive investments in science and technology. The Caribbean can achieve economic excellence, like the Asian tigers, but it will require capable leadership and strategic thinking.