Intra-CARICOM trade increase

With intra-regional trade within the Caribbean Community showing an increase inrecent times in the face of exogenous factors, the Intra-regional trade has been “positive”, with significant growth in the early period of the integration movement and with the share of intra-regional to total trade increasing, on average,” a CARICOM report states.

Despite a dip in 2009, CARICOM said the increase in trade in 2011 was about 30 times the amount of US$0.1 billion in 1973, showing that intra-regional trade has been propelled as a consequence of integration. It disclosed that Trinidad and Tobago has been the region’s dominant exporter.

The story of trade in the Community was told on Jul. 25 at the CARICOM Secretariat when the Regional Statistics Program, in collaboration with the Guyana Bureau of Statistics, held a seminar on the Community’s trade performance.

The seminar was one of the activities to mark International Year of Statistics, which is being commemorated during this year.

As CARICOM this year celebrates its 40th anniversary., its Secrtetariat said the expansion of intra-regional trade and trade with third states is one of its objectives, having recorded mixed fortunes in trade, with “upswings that were manifestations of effective regional policies and downturns that were generally reflective of external shocks and the state of the global economy.”

said the regional body in a statement.

It said changes in the global environment that occurred during the past 40 years impacted on the performance of the integration movement, including in trade performance.

CARICOM said some of those changes included the removal of the preferential arrangements for the region’s sugar and bananas exports with the European Union (EU); the advent of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its impact on the setting of the prices of oil and related minerals; the debt crisis of the 1980s; and, more recently, the global financial and economic crisis, and specifically, its impact in the EU and the United States, two of the region’s largest trading partners.

Since 1973, CARICOM said trade among member-states tallied 17.2 per cent of total exports.

It said the U.S. has been the Community’s most significant market for exports, accounting for 44.2 per cent of CARICOM’s total exports.

The U.S. is also the main source of CARICOM’s imports, accounting, on average, for 40.5 per cent of the region’s total extra-regional imports from 1973 to now, and for 37.0 per cent since the Caribbean Single Market (CSM).

CARICOM said the region’s imports from the U.S. stood at US$0.4 billion in 1973, US$5.8 billion in 2006 and US$7.3 billion in 2011. Exports to the EU accounted for 15.1 per cent of total export, with the EU being the second major source of imports with 15.1 per cent.

“Fundamentally, the region sought to deepen its integration process through the agreement to establish the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) as a mechanism for the small countries of the Community to stimulate growth and development amidst external and internal challenges,” the statement said.

With the establishment of the CARICOM Single Market (CSM) in 2006, CARICOM’s total exports expanded from US$17.8 billion in 2006 to US$18.8 billion in 2011 at an average growth rate of 1.0 per cent.

CARICOM said that growth rate, however, declined in the wake of the most recent global economic and financial crisis.

It said total imports also increased with the launch of the CSM, from US$18 billion in 2006 to US$ 24.3 billion in 2011, at an average annual growth rate of 6.2 per cent.

CARICOM said the period 1973 to 2005 saw an annual average growth rate in imports of 7.9 per cent.

Similarly, it said the effect of the global financial and economic crisis was reflected in an average annual growth rate for imports from 2008 to 2009 of negative 25.9 per cent.