Thursday, April 18, 2024

Eclac’s ideas for regional development


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EARLIER THIS month, the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) happily announced that the countries of the Caribbean region had “embraced”
its recommendations for an “integrated development approach”.
Of immediate interest to the people of the region is how and when this “embracement” will be translated into practical policies and programmes.  
It’s not that they wish to be cynical. Rather, there are understandable anxieties among those who suffer from the consequences of fragmented approaches in trade and economic development strategies that fail to promote sustained growth and reduce structural poverty.
Representatives of Caribbean and Latin American nations who participated in ECLAC’s 34th five-day meeting in El Salvador would have returned home with a major working document. Prepared by the UN agency, it is titled Structural Change For Equality – An Integrated Approach To Development and provides a virtual “roadmap” to guide how changes could be achieved.
Let’s face the reality that within CARICOM – our own regional economic integration movement – the litany of complaints often go beyond the slow pace of implementation of policies to examples of contradictions and conflicts that make a mockery of expressed official commitments to attain set objectives for functional cooperation and, more important, the promised seamless regional economy.
Now, according to the ECLAC assessment, since the debt crisis that emerged in the 1980s, Latin America and Caribbean countries have found it difficult to “rediscover a path of rapid growth”. Further, even the positive GDP growth rates achieved between 2003 and 2010 failed to match those from the 1970s . . . .”
Consequently, in order to overcome the barriers preventing the region from making the leap towards “development with equality and environmental sustainability”, ECLAC is recommending that member states move steadfastly to diversify their economies by applying active industrial policies in conjunction with macroeconomic, social and labour policies.
The thinking is that effective coordination of such integrated policies would boost production structure, make economies more resilient to external shocks and guarantee social protection.
Similarly, as discussed at last month’s El Salvador meeting, fiscal, monetary and foreign exchange policies must not only promote “nominal stability and smooth economic cycle”, they should also be concerned with long term impacts.
It is felt that very strong exchange rate appreciation, or prolonged periods of recession, have implications for investment and the production structure that go beyond short term considerations.


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