October 24, 2022, Bridgetown, Barbados – “International discourse has underscored the significance of global trade (in particular trade liberalisation) for growth and economic development …at this juncture, it cannot be business as usual… we need a new deal in international trade if Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and other developing countries are to achieve prosperity and sustainability,” says President of the Caribbean Development Bank, Dr Hyginus “Gene” Leon. He was speaking at UNCTAD’s Expert Meeting on Revisiting Development Strategies for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the Post-Pandemic Competitive Landscape, on October 24, which seeks to respond to the agency’s renewed mandate to assist SIDS by addressing their specific vulnerabilities, building resilience and promoting structural economic transformation and productive capacities.
Dr Leon alongside global leaders in trade and development identified many disadvantageous attributes now compounded by climate change which were conspiring to relegate the Bank’s 19 Borrowing Member Countries to an existence which could only be characterised as unattained potential.
Adding that “A new deal in international trade can propel the growth and development of SIDS. CDB is ready and willing to partner with other Multilateral Development Banks, international organisations, governments, and the private sector, on the necessary reforms to reconfigure existing trade frameworks. What SIDS justly require is the levelling of the playing field to allow all participants a fair chance at victory.” The President indicated that global leaders are now faced with a unique opportunity to re-imagine development for this grouping by creating a resilient ecosystem spanning social, financial, environmental, institutional, and productive capacity dimensions. This, he added, can be achieved only by integrating frameworks of debt sustainability, quality investment-growth nexus, and resilience building in a manner that ensures internal system coherence at any time but temporal consistency over time.
Developing states are ready to help themselves he indicated, however, the international community can assist by counteracting existing limitations to trade and the countries’ ability to exploit its benefits. This can be accomplished through reinforced partnerships with development banks to increase financing, deliberate attempts to industrialise knowledge and reshape private sector partnerships and increasing overall connectivity. These can establish alternatives that relocate SIDS from the peripheral positioning that has constrained their economic advancement for centuries.