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World Bank says preferential deals don’t help regional performance

Radio Jamaica

World Bank says preferential deals don’t help regional performance

3 April 2009

The World Bank says favourable treatment offered by Europe and North America has not helped the Caribbean’s overall trade performance.

In a report released Friday, the bank indicated that the Caribbean’s share of world trade has fallen compared to some Asian countries that enjoyed the same level of integration 30 years ago.

The World Bank report suggests that the Caribbean needs to improve its infrastructure and productivity to tackle poverty in the current tough economic climate.

The Banks Caribbean Director Yvonne Tsikata said that for 300 years the region relied on commodities such as sugar and bananas but the islands must adapt as a result of the loss of preferential trade agreements.

She said new accords such as the Economic Partnership Agreement signed last year will provide opportunities to adjust.

According to the World Bank official the challenge for the Caribbean is to take advantage of the transition period and the compensation associated of the EPA to move away from non-competitive sectors.

The World Bank has also suggested that the region develop its service sector including financial services.

She said the current crackdown on tax havens is not a threat to the financial services sector as some jurisdictions are already addressing concerns raised by richer countries.

No Caribbean financial sector has been blacklisted.

In the latest report from the organization for Economic Cooperation and Development issued on Thursday, the Bank also pointed to the tourism industry which it said could be enhanced by moving more up market or developing eco-tourism.

In the meantime, the World Bank has urged Caribbean countries to deepen regional cooperation and develop service industries.

In a report released Friday, the World Bank said regional states need to do this to tackle poverty in the current tough economic conditions.

Ms. Tsikata said that diversifying trade and becoming more competitive was crucial for the region.

The World Bank has also said that favourable treatment offered by European and North American markets to Caribbean states had not helped the region’s overall trade performance.