CDCC. Session 26; Basseterre, Saint Kitts and Nevis: 22 April 2016
The countries of the Caribbean subregion continue to face a variety of development challenges, given their economic, social and environmental vulnerabilities and low levels of resilience. Their small, open, still undiversified economies, impacted by recession in major export markets, are still striving to return to sustainable economic growth following the global economic crisis. This has been especially true for most of the service-oriented economies in the subregion.
Low growth, depressed domestic and international demand and a lack of robust investment in tourism and related service industries have brought high levels of unemployment, particularly among women and youth. Countries of the subregion also face mounting public debt and severe fiscal challenges, with average debt-to-GDP ratios still in the unsustainable range. For a few countries, the ratios exceed 100% of GDP, posing serious challenges to financial system stability and limiting their access to credit. Such substantial debt burdens contribute to persistently high interest rates and restrain investment.
The high public debt and focus on fiscal adjustment has limited the capacity of Caribbean Governments to deliver the full range of social services. This has raised concerns about erosion of the social fabric, and the ability to meet the growing needs of vulnerable groups. The Caribbean remains the subregion with the second highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the world, and the rise in lifestyle and noncommunicable diseases has increasingly become an urgent health and development issue. The reduction of significant levels of poverty and inequality remains a major challenge for Caribbean countries...
Caribbean States will therefore need to shape a strategy that promotes growth, rekindles investment and builds resilience, with focus on debt reduction and fiscal management, while seeking to expand their capacity to meet the growing social and development needs of their people. Underlying such a strategy is the need for economic transformation, which implies moving away from economies based primarily on natural endowments to more knowledge-driven economies. This will require much more targeted investment in human capital and greater collaboration between the private and public sectors of the region to garner the requisite resources.
UN Symbol: LC/L.4149