Nations assistant secretary Shoji Nishimoto.
With ever increasing talk of regional integration, Haiti,
Caricom, the Caribbean Single Market Economy (CSME), migration
of an educated workforce, free trade and the economic impact
of HIV/Aids all bear on the minds of decision makers.
Yet, international experts emphasize that for T&T its
global positioning and emerging leadership of the region
will shape the future of the Caribbean.
you think you have much of an option given your size and
your competitive structure? Do you have much of an option
other than to make Caricom work and make yourself a viable
regional entity that could compete economically on the global
stage and then it is going to be a challenge. I think the
answer is obvious, said United Nations head of the
regions bureau, Dr Inyang Harstrup.
Harstrup, along with United Nations assistant secretary
Shoji Nishimoto and International Development Bank country
representative William Robinson, joined the Business Guardian
last week for a round table on the challenges facing the
Nishimoto, an economist by profession, has 22 years in the
Asian banking sector and is also the assistant administrator
and director of the bureau for Development Policy at United
Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
dont think we are looking at this economic integration
as our area of competence, he said cautiously.
region can benefit a lot at looking at other sub-regional,
regional integration models available in the continent of
Latin America and others like Europe, said Nishimoto.
think every nation should have its own idea of what kind
of nation it wants to build. I am a great believer in the
philosophy of nation-building.
are now living in a globalised world and people tend to
forget the importance of the nation, the entity of this
thing called a nation that is first and foremost our home.
To Nishimoto, the main economic challenge facing Caricom
and CSME is creating a system that can benefit both the
larger and smaller island countries equally.
is always a comparative advantage, a territory. It is very
hard to establish a region with similar levels of development,
similar industrial structure but it is much easier to have
an integration or collaboration of a different type of structure,
the world is perfect, free trade is good for everyone but
in reality there are forms of groupings and collective bargaining
or collective arrangement which may serve the interest of
a particular group over a certain time and in my sense for
the Caribbean islands to have a sub-regional stance of certain
issues make very good sense.
According to the UN assistant secretary general before worrying
aboutthe free movement of products and people in line with
CSME, the region should consider its competitive advantage
versus the rest of the world and its maintenance of a homogeneous
can sacrifice the short-term loss with the long-term gain
but the long-term gain is always under the assumption that
your industrial structure will be able to adjust accordingly
and you are able to build your competitiveness in certain
areas and this in theory should happen but it is not always
It is his opinion that developing countries should benefit
from preferential trade agreements a while longer and that
theory also applies to Caricom, CSME and the Organised Eastern
Caribbean States (OECS).
reality even in a developed country certain protection remains,
non-tariff barriers remain and certain trade is not necessarily
driven by just price consideration alone. Considering all
those things, I think they are jumping into the theory just
a little too fast. The open trade regime may not necessarily
be beneficial, said Nishimoto.
Robinson feels the examples of economic integration in Latin
America mean one thing.
think the region is looking for new models and new ways
to create new economies and new relationships. I think that
is wise. I think the globalisation process is seeing a shifting
of production, globally and regionally.
nations need to look to establishing new productive trade
and economic relations with their neighbours. Clearly the
models are changing
the challenges are still the same,
increase productivity, respect the environment, provide
sustainability, improve governance and distribution of the
resources and productivity of the society.
While in theory the aims are ambitious, the laws need to
necessitate the change.
need new laws, we need new experiments and I think we are
entering an exciting era where some of the old orthodoxies
will give way to new locally engendered models, added
For the region development challenges include health reform,
the HIV/Aids epidemic, the gender disparity, the skills
gap and Haiti which all fall in the Millennium Development
somebody living below US$1 a day to even two or three dollars
a day is not going to solve problems or poverty. So the
income poverty is only part of the equation, we have to
address other non-income, non-financial related deprivation
of the right to participate, the right to have access to
judicial services, the right to receive a good education
and health services, these are not monetary, not income
related issues, said Nishimoto.
healthy and intelligent labour force is a major asset for
the country including developing nations. Health should
not be considered a consumption, there should really be
a long term investment in one of the most important resources
you have which is the people.
He added, This is a small region with not a big population
but a high ratio of HIV/Aids infection which translates
to a very serious not only economic impact but social and
political implications so we have to really address these
And none more so affected by all the strains of the region
only for sentimental and historical reasons when you understand
the genesis and the origins of the black presence in the
Caribbean and the role of Haiti standing up to the past
of slavery and colonialism, if only for that reason extra
effort should be brought to bear to help the Haitian people
out of this terrible dilemma, said Harstrup.
is just an extreme example of what is the fractures and
difficulties of governance in the Caribbean. I do think
that Caricom and T&T should take leadership roles in
addressing this but addressing it in a very fundamental
way, she said.
one road we really dont want to underplay and want
to play more is really that countries like T&T are assuming
a more important role in the international arena and such
as in the UN conventions, the meetings general assembly
or maybe in the debate of WTO, said Nishimoto.
some would say is critical about the Caribbean within the
multilateral forum of the UN or any other international
body, you have 14 votes and those 14 votes can be leveraged
to do an enormous good, you can have an enormous influence
over the agenda of a given organisation such as the UN,