The Role of the State in Caribbean Agriculture in the New Liberal Trade Order

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Patricia Northover


Globally, states everywhere are under intensifying pressure to bring their economies, as well as regional and national policies, into harmonious alignment with the liberalizing trends of contemporary international trade regimes. Within the Caribbean, their latest experience of these liberalizing pressures has been from the European Union 's (EU) trade and foreign ministers acceptance, on February 26, 2001, of Commissioner Lamy's initiative to open the EU markets to "Everything but Arms" (EBA) from the 48 Least Developed Countries (LDC's), This decision is seen as effectively bringing the final curtain down for the traditional preference dependent exports of rice, sugar and bananas from the Caribbean to the EU.

The argument being made in this paper is with special regard to those (sugar producing) Caribbean countries in the Caricom grouping, which after significant diversification and structural change, still possess sizable rural populations and are also circumscribed in their 'adaptive economic efficiency' options and process by two constraints. First, a 'species' constraint of (a) small size (physical and populational) (b) high vulnerability and second, a 'structural constraint' of missing capabilities, whether it be in the form of missing institutions, or due to perverse institutional incentives.

In developing the argument the author will briefly illustrate our alternative perspective on the appropriate role of the state with respect to the task of repositioning the sugar industries of the Caricom States.

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