CDB predicts economic growth for the Caribbean

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By Caribbean News Now contributor

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) announces notwithstanding the prediction of deceleration in global economic activity, the 2019 economic outlook for its borrowing member countries (BMCs) is positive, foretelling economic growth of over two percent.

In its 2018 Annual Report issued at the start of the bank’s 49th annual board of governor’s conference, the CDB announced the world gross domestic product (GDP) is assumed to dwindle to 3.5 percent this year, from 3.7 percent in 2018 and blamed multiple conditions like Britain’s continued attempts to leave the European Union and the economic retardation in China.

The CDB, the region’s premier economic institution, said that the Caribbean’s susceptibility to these risks is great as is its vulnerability to weather-related events. It also said several institutional deficiencies need to be discussed to enhance the delivery of significant social and economic projects.

Nevertheless, GDP is predicted to climb by 2.1 percent as tourism, construction and the extractive industries, such as oil and gold increase.

The CDB announced that Barbados is the sole BMC in which economic activity is not anticipated to improve in 2019 and that continuous fiscal retrenchment is foreseen to scrub out mighty tourism achievement.

Meanwhile, an appeal was made June 5, for Caribbean countries to adopt new transformational policies so that the region not only perseveres but thrive in an ever-evolving digital world. That appeal was made by Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis and Chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Dr Timothy Harris, who was at the time replying to the chairperson’s welcome address at the opening ceremony of the CDB’s 49th Annual board of governor’s conference in Port of Spain, Trinidad.

In her official message to the representatives of the annual conference, chair of the CDB board of directors, Camille Robinson-Regis asserted that “Embracing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals as an indicator for transformation will complement our national and international development agendas.”

Replying on behalf of the CDB’s BMCs, Harris indicated that “Transformation,” which is the theme guiding the deliberations of the two-day conference, is essential for all of us “and we are happy that we are focusing on that particular matter at this time.”

Taking the opportunities in the agricultural sector, building a more resilient Caribbean region and the creation of a digital Caribbean are the three foremost concerns foreseen to garner multiple conversations during the two-day conference.

As it compares to the role of agriculture and its ability to play an even more notable role in the development of regional economies, Harris again subscribed to the idea of a comprehensive set of transformational strategies to rectify this matter.

“For many of the bank’s borrowing member countries, the leakage from food importation is a significant one and if we could really harness that within the context of the region, we could have substantial improvement in our economic growth rates. So how we are going to be able to, as it were, transform agriculture to play its rightful place in the context of health issues which are critical and in the context of our own battle with NCDs [noncommunicable diseases] that is going to be important.”

Four hundred delegates attended which included government ministers and prime ministers from the CDB’s 19 BMCs, officials of the private sector, members of civil society and reporters, attending the 49th annual board of governor’s conference from June 5-6. Also present at the conference was the financial secretary in the government of St Kitts and Nevis, Hilary Hazel.

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