Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 18th 2014 Contents DECEMBER 2014 • WEEK THREE www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
REGIONAL | BG21
Anew report by the International
Labour Organisation (ILO) has
found an "unusual pattern" in this
year s urban employment rate in
Latin America and the Caribbean,
which continued to fall despite
warning signs of economic slowdown.
The ILO report titled "Labour Overview for Latin
America and the Caribbean 2014," noted that the
region s urban unemployment rate may reach 6.3 per
cent in 2015, which means that there will be some
500,000 more without jobs.
"There are warning signs," said Elizabeth Tinoco,
the ILO s regional director. "The concern is that we
are creating fewer jobs despite unemployment remain-
ing at a low level," she added.
Although unemployment has not risen due to this
slowdown in growth, there has been a sharp reduction
of new jobs reflected in the employment rate, which
fell by 0.4 percentage points to 55.7 per cent in the
third quarter of 2014.
"This means that at least one million (fewer) jobs
have been created," Tinoco said.
The ILO said that this "scenario of uncertainty"
comes after a decade in which the region enjoyed
significant economic growth. The unemployment
rate dipped to record lows and allowed for a higher
quality of jobs.
The urban unemployment rate of young people
dropped from 14.5 per cent to 14 per cent but still
remains between 2 and 4 times higher than that for
adults. What s more, the unemployment rate for
women is 30 per cent higher than that for men, and
47 per cent of urban workers work in the informal
"Many people who temporarily left the workforce
in 2014 will return to search for a job next year,
together with young people entering the labour market.
The region will have to create nearly 50 million jobs
over the coming decade, just to offset demographic
growth," Tinoco said, adding "we are talking about
almost 15 million people unemployed.
"So we have to face the huge challenge of rethinking
strategies to push growth and a productive transfor-
mation of the economy to foster economic and social
inclusion through the labour market," Tinoco said.
The ILO is calling on countries in the region to
prepare for the possibility of a labour market which
has to take specific measures to stimulate employment
and protect individual incomes.
The former director general of
the Organisation of Eastern
Caribbean States (OECS), Dr
Len Ishmael, says the
Caribbean will never achieve
the status of economic
resilience, as long as the international com-
munity insists on graduating it to middle
income status at the level of the European
Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations.
Ishmael, who is now the OECS Ambas-
sador to Belgium and the European Union,
told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC)
that European Development Funds (EDF)
have been very important to the sub-region
having been used as budgetary support at
both the national and sub-regional levels.
"In the case of St Kitts Nevis these funds
have been vital through trade windows
accompanying measures that seek to cushion
the shock with the loss of the sugar market,
and in the case of the Windwards, the banana
market," she told CMC on the sidelines of
the just completed 100th African Caribbean
and Pacific (ACP) Ministerial Summit.
But she said that over time, the islands
have been graduated to middle income coun-
tries, given the fact the European Union has
been using gross domestic product (GDP)
per capital to undertake fresh comparative
analysis with the rest of the world.
Ishmael told CMC that with that middle
income status comes the loss of several priv-
ileges, and access to concessionary financing
which inevitably makes capital more and
As a result, she contends the islands are
required to engage in commercial ventures
so as to attract capital and loans which have
been critical to support their development.
"We argue strenuously in this theatre that
GDP as a means of speaking to the health
and wealth of our countries is a bit of an
artifice when you are dealing with islands
that are naturally small.
"The fact that we are small mean that
there are systemic vulnerabilities that come
with our size, the fact that we have been
able to emerge from cycles of real poverty,
does not mean that the vulnerabilities asso-
ciated with small size, are no longer there,"
The OECS diplomat said on one hand
there is the European Union very much in
favour of supporting vulnerability and pro-
viding finance to ensure sustainable devel-
opment while on the other it is graduating
the Caribbean out of the access to the very
funds that it would use in pursuit of a life
of sustainable development.
"So the issue of graduating is a very vital
one in this theatre because GDP per capita
is used not only in the EU but by the IMF
(International Monetary Fund), the World
Bank, multi-laterals, the WTO (World Trade
Organisation) and everywhere else to deter-
mine those countries which are graduated
out of their ability to attract any new con-
cessions for financing," she said.
"In fact we have received word that St
Kitts Nevis will soon be graduated out entirely,
you and I both know that as Small Islands
Development States (SIDS) we are acutely
vulnerable not just economically but envi-
ronmentally and we don t need to indulge
in a conversation to know exactly what that
"Now we are not even safe from a wet
whether event associated with last December s
tropical low pressure that wrecked St Lucia
and St Vincent, not even a hurricane as a
consequence of climate change, wrecked
such havoc on our physical infrastructure
including our livestock and crop supplies.
"The problem therefore for SIDS, is if we
have no economic resilience, there is no way
we can become economically resilient," Ish-
She said that the paradox of all of this is
that these small states are not saying that
anyone else should be paying their way, but
they argue that there should be across all
theatres an understanding of the unique cri-
teria that makes SIDS as vulnerable as they
"So it s not all well and good to have a
discussion on our vulnerability only when it
comes to talking once every 10 years through
Mauritius or the Barbados Plan of Action.
"These discussions should result in policy
prescriptions that cut across all theatres, at
the WTO, the UN General Assembly, post
2015 agenda for development or all of the
global issues that directly impact us uniquely
because of our small size.
"We will continue to ask that SIDS issues
should be cross cutting and SIDS sensitivity
is one that should be inherent to all national
discussion on sustainable development," she
The issue of graduating the Caribbean to
middle income designation has been identified
by the new ACP Secretary General Dr PI
Gomes as one of more challenging tasks of
his five-year term.
"We will need to resolve the principle of
differentiation in the Cotonou agreement
where Caribbean countries are being unjustly
graduated to a middle income designation,
and thereby excluded from grant assistance,"
he told reporters.
"We need to fight graduation because of
how it is calculated, it should not be on the
basis of capital income alone, we are vul-
nerable because of the environment where
we are located. One natural disaster and your
GDP can be reduced to 60 per cent as hap-
pened in more recently in Grenada," he added.
Gomes, Guyana s Ambassador to Brussels
and Europe, replaced Alhaji Muhammad
Mumuni as Secretary General of the ACP
group. He previously served as Chair of the
Committee of Ambassadors a decision making
body of the ACP group. He will serve as Sec-
retary General for a five year period starting
He said the Caribbean being considered
largely middle income countries, with the
exception of Haiti, which is the only lesser
developed country (LDC) in the grouping, is
a serious situation that needs to be addressed
"The Caribbean would also need to move
very effectively is making optimal use of the
development aid it receives in terms of ensur-
ing that it has an impact, in addition to diver-
sifying its sources of development assistance,"
However Gomes said he did not share the
view that aid is a big contributor to the GDP
as the Cuban economy has shown.
"What I think is more important are the
terms and conditions under which invest-
ments comes into your country and how
they are able to help structural transformation
of your economy," he stated.
ILO's 2015 report:
in Latam and
OECS diplomat has
dire warning for region
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