Speaking With One Voice

When this editorial piece was written, ballots were still being counted and neither challenger Joe Biden nor incumbent Donald Trump could credibly claim victory, although Trump did falsely make such a claim.

Biden, on the other hand, had a clearer path to the magical 270 Electoral College Votes needed to claim victory. Whichever way the chips fall, however, Saint Lucia and the rest of the region will have to face a brand new term of American governance that could be challenging for them if they are not adequately prepared.

With the rest of the world keenly watching the US election drama and mentally jockeying to see how best each could curry favour from the new administration, Saint Lucia and the rest of the Caribbean should also be preparing to do the same.

History has shown that small developing states like Saint Lucia do not progress, as they aspire paddling on their own in the international economic currents. Today, with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic creating huge challenges for advanced economies, these very same challenges are even more daunting for developing states, especially small developing states.

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Prime Minister Allen Chastanet and his team, whilst providing the nation with an update of what transpired at meetings with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB) last week, not only revealed the fragility of the local economy to Saint Lucians but also the impossibility of Saint Lucia coming out of its economic woes by leaning solely on its own doings.

Put bluntly, Saint Lucia is scrambling to cope with considerably decreased revenues and extraordinarily increased expenditures brought on by COVID-19 and other factors which could sooner or later deal it a death blow if it does not join forces with other states in a similar predicament and/or is not given what it asked for from the IMF and WB.

Saint Lucia is not alone in this predicament. Other Caribbean countries are in the same sauce. That is where we believe CARICOM needs to step in. Strength, it is constantly said, is in numbers. Only by presenting themselves in the international community as one diplomatic bloc, with one voice, can our small Caribbean states, under the CARICOM umbrella, stand a chance of not going under.

There is no doubt that a new world order is emerging in this era of COVID-19, and the era of post COVID, one which will be greatly influenced, if not controlled, by the developed world, particularly the United States of America. Saint Lucia will have to live in this new world order. Going at it alone, however, is not an option. Advisable, as a single small state, our plight will hardly cause a visible ripple on the stormy seas in which we are going to have to survive.  However, as part of a unified group, such as CARICOM, its chances at making some sort of headway towards survival would be considerably enhanced.

CARICOM, we believe, should not waste time in establishing strong economic links with the new American administration, particularly in the field of international finance and debt forgiveness, because without favours in those areas, in particular, bouncing back for small, fragile and very vulnerable economies as those in the Caribbean, will not be possible.

While the small economies that make up CARICOM may not be able to dictate the world’s economic order like America can, they can, by working collectively, hopefully get some policies implemented in their favour by institutions like the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank.

Saint Lucia’s economic future is linked to that of its neighbours therefore it would be in the interests of all the countries bordered by the Caribbean Sea to make its collective voices heard to whoever occupies the White House in January. As the region’s premier organization, CARICOM should be ready to face that administration to present the region’s interests, after all the US economy, whether it’s good or bad, has direct implications for the Caribbean.

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