May 31, 2020

Turks & Caicos economy tops the Caribbean


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By Hayden Boyce, From Turks & Caicos Sun

The Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) economy recorded the second best performance in the region in 2017 and is expected to have “strong growth” in 2018, despite being hit by back-to-back hurricanes last September and experiencing sluggish tourism numbers in recent months.

According to a top Caribbean economist, the Turks and Caicos Islands performed far better than larger Caribbean economies such as The Bahamas, Barbados, Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Antigua, St. Lucia, Guyana, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Kitts, St. Vincent and Suriname.

Dr. Justin Ram, Director of Economics at the Caribbean Development Bank (), said the TCI’s economy grew by 3.4 percent in 2017, and was second only to Grenada which grew by 4.3 percent.

Addressing the CDB’s Annual News Conference in Bridgetown, Barbados on February 7th 2018, Dr. Ram told journalists from around the region that all of CDB’s Borrowing Member Countries (BMCs) are expected to contribute to the positive movement.

“This is mainly driven by the return to growth in Trinidad and Tobago and a 2.3% uptick in Jamaica, which accounts for about a fifth of regional GDP. The highest growth rates are anticipated for Anguilla and as they rebuild from the damage caused by the 2017 hurricanes. Antigua and Barbuda and the Turks and Caicos Islands are also expected to have strong growth.”

After the Turks and Caicos Islands, Antigua was third in growth with 3.0 percent, followed by St. Lucia, 2.9 percent; Guyana, 2.9 percent; St. Kitts, 2.8 percent; Cayman Islands, 2.7 percent; Jamaica, 1.7 percent; Montserrat, 1.6 percent; Haiti, 1.2 percent; Barbados, 1.0 percent; The Bahamas, 1.0 percent and Belize, 0.5 percent.

Dr. Ram noted that five BMCs experienced negative growth in 2017. Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands and Dominica had the largest declines due to severe damage caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Notably, the Trinidad and Tobago economy continued to contract. Given that the country’s economy accounts for a third of regional output, this meant that on average, the region only grew by 0.6% in 2017, the economist added.
He said the Caribbean’s economic performance as a whole continues to lag that of all other groups, most notably other small developing states.

“This comparison with other small states suggests that small size is not an obstacle to growth but rather, that other structural impediments might be the reason for the Caribbean’s tepid performance,” Dr. Ram added.

He also noted that joblessness remains high throughout the Region for young persons, with youth unemployment as high as 40% in some countries.
He said it is still too difficult to do business in the Region and the Caribbean is still uncompetitive in many indicators Meantime, Dr. Warren Smith, CDB’s president, said that “in a sense, and certainly in terms of economic growth, the Region is in the strongest position since the start of the 2008 global recession, which set in motion an extended downward spiral in economic performance”.

He added: “The impact of the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season is still fresh in our minds, and is a painful reminder of our Region’s inherent vulnerabilities. The stories we heard from colleagues, friends and family have suggested that the people of Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, the British Virgin Islands (BVI), Dominica and the Turks and Caicos Islands experienced great mental and physical trauma. This, combined with the loss of life and infrastructural destruction might best be described as a setback for our region.”

Dr. Smith noted that the Caribbean is in a geographic zone which is ranked as the second highest in terms of climate vulnerability and faces a future that is characterised by more intense and destructive meteorological systems.
He said Hurricanes Irma and Maria caused damage estimated at 225% of GDP in Dominica; more than 300% in BVI; and significant loss of life. In Antigua and Barbuda, the losses amounted to an estimated 10% of GDP, with 95% of buildings destroyed in Barbuda.


Dr. Smith added: “As a result, we are making US$700 – 800 million available over the next five years to help affected BMCs recover from the devastating effects of the recent hurricanes. We cannot underscore enough the urgent need for liquidity in the aftermath of natural disasters. This is one of the reasons that CDB augmented the capital of CCRIF SPC through a grant of US$14 million to provide enhanced and more affordable insurance coverage to BMCs which insure with this Facility. The grant was made possible through resources provided to CDB by the Government of Mexico, which is a shareholder of our institution.

“Despite the setbacks caused by the natural disasters in late 2017, our Region must get back on track as quickly as possible so that we can meet our commitments to the 2030 sustainable development agenda. The Caribbean has had a long history of bouncing back from natural disasters and other external shocks.”

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