Globalization


Globalization is the increasing integration of world-economies through the free flow of goods and services across national boundaries. It can be seen as the liberalization of global markets. Goods and services can be defined as tangible and intangible, e.g. the agricultural sector supplying ground provisions can be classified as tangible and the tourism and banking sectors can be classed as intangible as they are service industries. Commonwealth Caribbean states include: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Monsterrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago and Turks and Caicos Islands.


Limited natural resources, vulnerability to natural hazards and economic fragility are the characteristics with which Caribbean Commonwealth states are endowed and which to a large extent determine our ability to compete in a global environment, that is constantly changing and where survival of the strongest is the name of the game.


The doctrine of globalization has been a very real concern to these countries as it affects every aspect of Commonwealth Caribbean life including education, culture and tourism and entertainment. So real a threat that globalization is, that new policies have to be introduced in the long-term to cope with the overwhelming negatives of this process. Let us look at some of the ways in which we can survive this process.


A very crucial area to the Commonwealth Caribbean states that globalization is undoubtedly changing is that of economy. The integration of the economies of these states’ into the world economy have provided some benefits, however difficulties remain. Certain sectors and industries have disappeared and there is an increased vulnerability and dependence on a limited number of markets. Added to that demands by International Financial Institutions (IFS’s), namely Moodys and Standard and Poors, have left many of these states with very little room to adjust. These two IFI’s are based in America and their role is to advise potential worldwide investors in their capacity as rating agencies, whether they should invest in a particular country.


One area of the economy that globalization has impacted is the agricultural sector, more specifically the sugar and banana, which are the lifeline of many small Eastern Commonwealth Caribbean states. These results range from a lack of production and productivity, absence of economies of scale of production, slow pace of crop diversification and continued use of outdated technology in the production process.


With regards to sugar, one of the largest earners of foreign exchange in the Commonwealth Caribbean, the impact was not felt immediately as the industry still enjoys the protection of preferential marketing arrangements. These preferential marketing arrangements were agreed to under the Sugar Protocol of Lome Convention and the US Sugar Quota. The Lome Convention is the result of an agreement between the African, Caribbean, Pacific (ACP) countries and the European Union signed in 1975, which gives special prices and privileges to agricultural imports from ACP countries. However the Cotonou Accord, successor to the Lome Convention, stipulates that this will only last until 2008, after which the sugar industry of the Commonwealth Caribbean will face the full impact of globalization. Economic globalization implies the expansion and intensification of international linkages in finance, trade and production. While the Commonwealth Caribbean has forged alliances with her African and Pacific counterparts, there is still a greater need for linkage and new strategic policy implementation as preferential treatment nears its end.


The banana industry, which is the mainstay of four Windward Islands economies and a significant contributor to the Gross Domestic Product of Jamaica, is under the most serious and immediate threat from the much-feared globalization and the World Trade Organization. The problems of the banana industry are offset by high production costs and diseconomies of scale. For example, the banana industry in Jamaica faces increasing pressure from globalization. So great is the pressure that the government had to inject massive J$3.6 billion to try to save the industry. Barbados’ problems result from its lack of economies of scale. The United States of America further exacerbates these problems, already aggravated by the phenomenon of globalization. Economic globalization also implies increased mobility of labour, constantly evolving technology and capital. The banana industry of the Commonwealth Caribbean has not made any real effort to