Unless the sugar industry in Caricom can develop in the coming months a co-ordinated and concerted plan of action, it is quite possible that in a few years’ time there will be little left of an industry which, for evil and good, has played a central role in the making of the Caribbean.
In the last few weeks, Washington think tanks, financial services analysts in New York and London, and publications from the New York Times to the Petroleum Argus, have all found a reason to express a view on Guyana, the Caribbean nation they now see as set to become one of the Western hemisphere’s major oil producers.
When it comes to Cuba, the world’s media tends to focus on the obvious: the possible outcome of the new US administration’s policy review, the multiple difficulties faced by Cuba’s over-centralised planned economy, or the implications of Fidel Castro’s passing.
In the coming months, it is likely that the way in which governments think about international trade and their fundamental values will evolve rapidly, as the promises and threats that President Trump made on the campaign trail become US policy.
Late last November the Government of Antigua gave notice to the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) Disputes Settlement Body (DSB) that if the United States did not reach “an appropriate and beneficial settlement” in relation to a legal adjudication made previously in its favour, it would act to recover the revenue it has lost.
Few people understand how great the daily pressures are on a prime minister or a president. Instead they mostly observe the public persona, see their leaders in the context of tribal politics, and are variously entertained or exercised by the media coverage of what is said, done or ignored.
Some time ago I received an email asking me how many five star hotels there are in the Caribbean. I replied that there was no recognised or independently adjudicated rating system anywhere in the region other than in the French département d’outre-mer.
At the end of last month, China published a detailed 16-page document, ‘China’s Policy Paper on Latin America and the Caribbean’, which sets out a new approach to relations between the Americas and the world’s second largest economy.
On November 28, the US President-elect, Donald Trump said that “if Cuba is unwilling to make a better deal for the Cuban people, the Cuban/American people and the US as a whole, I will terminate deal”.
Being able to identify the policy changes that will transform the future is normally far from easy. Arguably, however, in the week past, the remarks of two world leaders make plain how the trajectory of global history is about to change.