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Friday, July 21, 2006 

21 July 2006

Eastern Caribbean Nations Benefiting from U.S. Economic Growth

International Monetary Fund reports on Eastern Caribbean economy

Washington -- Most Eastern Caribbean countries are benefiting from good economic conditions in the United States and the United Kingdom, says the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

In a July 19 statement, the IMF said the near-term growth prospects in most of the Eastern Caribbean's countries "remain strong" as their economies are "buoyed" by tourism from the United States and the United Kingdom.

The IMF said a high level of construction activity in the Eastern Caribbean also is improving the region's economy.

IMF official David Robinson, who will head a staff mission by his organization to the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union countries in July and August, said his visit will focus on the "economic prospects, opportunities, and challenges" facing that currency union. The six countries in that group are Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Robinson said growth in the region has been strong, largely due to a recovery in tourism, and increased construction activity in preparation for the 2007 Cricket World Cup, which will be played in a number of countries in the Caribbean region. The Cup's championship match is scheduled for April 28, 2007, in Bridgetown, Barbados.

The IMF official said that while "inflationary pressures" in the Eastern Caribbean have emerged due to the strong economic activity and higher world oil prices, inflation in the region has remained in the low single digits.

Robinson said the economic growth would help the region take advantage of new opportunities provided by what is called the Caribbean Single Market and Economy, which is designed to enhance the region's competitiveness by providing for the free movement of goods and services, labor and capital in the Caribbean.

In addition, Robinson said the region needs to take advantage of the "increasing globalization of the world economy, as well as to adjust to the further decline of trade preferences for bananas and sugar." However, sustaining growth "once the impetus dissipates from the construction boom ahead of the Cricket World Cup will be key to maintaining and further improving living standards" in the region, Robinson said.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) operates an Eastern Caribbean program that provides about $17 million annually to promote economic development, legal reform, trade-capacity building and HIV/AIDS assistance to the region's small island countries. USAID operates an office in Barbados that directly administers the Eastern Caribbean program.

The full text of the IMF statement on the Eastern Caribbean is available on the fund’s Web site.

For more on U.S. policy, see The Caribbean.

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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