Mon | May 17, 2021

Caribbean foreign trade hits new low

Published:Wednesday | January 27, 2021 | 4:16 AM

Caribbean foreign trade had its worst performance since the global financial crisis of 2008-2009, arising from the current economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions imposed by governments to stop its spread, says the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, ECLAC.

In its annual report for 2020, ECLAC estimated that the value of exports from the region to the rest of the world dropped 13 per cent, while imports shrank by 20 per cent.

Still, the contraction in exports is better than originally forecast. Back in August, the decline was projected at 23 per cent, an assessment based then on the fact that “the rebound in demand among the region’s main trading partners, and China in particular, was not yet visible,” according to ECLAC Executive Secretary Alicia Bárcena.

Bárcena is urging governments of the region to take steps to reverse more than a decade of trade disintegration and restore fragmented markets.

“It is necessary to deepen integration to drive the regional recovery. The region has been disintegrating in terms of trade and production since the middle of the last decade, coinciding with its lowest growth in seven decades,” said the ECLAC official.

“This is very worrisome because intraregional trade is the most conducive to productive diversification, the internationalisation of companies – especially MSMEs, or micro, small and medium enterprises – and gender equality,” she added.