Globalisation is over as we know it. The new world will be driven by insular governance, regional integration, and bilateral agreements.
Pundits expect the coronavirus pandemic to be one of the longest in history. The pandemic is expected to last for 24 months at the very least. This is going to be a long season.
For the Caribbean, the good news is that islands in the region appear to have the infection rate under control — unlike countries that took lightly the advice to lock down and socially distance.
Travel and tourism will change dramatically. The airline industry is expected to shrink drastically. Already, major airlines have collapsed, and they will only survive with government bailouts. Globally, the hotel-and-resort market is shedding hundreds of thousands of jobs.
For at least 24 months hence, most countries will quarantine all travellers to their shores, native and alien, for two weeks. This will be in addition to testing travellers for coronavirus. That new travel protocol will take a further bite out of the travel and tourism market.
As major corporations collapse in the United States and Western Europe, especially, supply chains will be impacted. There is no guarantee that food supplies that normally flow from northern industrialised states to the south through shipping lanes can be maintained.
There are fears of food shortages as food suppliers are impacted by the pandemic.
Consequently, the best policy these islands can adopt is the development of their internal markets.
Internal market sufficiency can drive a country’s gross domestic product. The US is a resource-rich country that is the best example of a self-sufficient economy. The US can feed itself, and the country can produce within its borders what it requires to satisfy its internal markets.
Caribbean countries cannot do that today. However, that has to be the focus for the future.
Food and drink sufficiency are critical if these islands are to survive economically into the coming decade. Sufficiency will keep cash within local markets, increasing the quantity of currency in the pockets of consumers and the velocity of currency within countries’ borders — which is always an indicator of healthy commerce, trade and industry.
Learning will have to focus on hands-on skills. The workforce of the future will be in construction, farming, maritime, agriculture, engineering, technical education, and the vocational skills required to drive an efficient internal market economy.
Inter-Caribbean travel, and sea transportation for goods and products, will become vital to local economies.
Regionalisation will mean multilateral and bilateral cooperation between island territories and nations.
Trade between the islands in food, drink, locally made products, and various travel services, will become the norm.
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