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Thursday, July 20, 2006 

Information for Development Program

Improving Competitiveness and Increasing Economic
Diversification in the Caribbean: The Role of ICT

April 2005

Executive Summary

The Development Challenges of the Caribbean

The states and microstates of the Caribbean offer a tantalizing glimpse of development achievements that might have been. For 40 years in many cases, and almost 200 in others, these states have held out the promise of favorable locations, excellent climates, convenient languages, rich natural resources and, recently, large Diaspora communities. With relatively small populations, and
increasingly large outside forces offering to help, many of these states were expected to grow rapidly through the end of the 20th century. A very few did, while most have stagnated and some have fallen into increasing poverty.
In reality, the Caribbean economies are faced with distinct challenges on their road to development.

Once dependent on agricultural and extractive industries, they have seen protective policies disappear, and their products have commoditized. Their small size and high labor costs make these industries unviable when competing with the scale and low labor costs of giants like India and China – or even high labor but low total cost environments such as the US and Canada. Now these countries face modest growth rates (1.17%)1, high unemployment rates (15% - 20%) and an overly-responsive government sector trying to maintain social cohesion and acting as an unemployment buffer.2 Their relative geographical dispersion has also made regional integration and harmonization a slow process.

Full Report

Copyright infoDev 2005 – www.infodev.org

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