070_G17_InFocus_Grenada

Global_17

In Focus Grenada Unemployment stands at about a third of the working age population and, in common with many other islands in the Caribbean, emigration – particularly to the USA and UK – acts as a safety valve on the population. The large overseas population of Grenadians helps to support the island economy through overseas remittances. The big question is which sector can deliver the desperately needed economic growth. Agriculture is unlikely to be the answer. The World Trade Organization ended the country’s privileged export of agricultural goods to Europe a decade ago, although Grenada remains the world’s second largest producer of nutmeg, after Indonesia. Other export crops include cocoa, bananas and cloves but there is limited scope for expansion because of the lack of spare land. In early November, the government announced plans to secure geographical indications (GIs) from the World Intellectual Property Organization for its key agricultural exports. A government spokesperson said: “It is the hope of the organisers that these products, especially Grenada’s nutmeg and cocoa which already have international reputations for top quality, will get the necessary support from stakeholders in the agriculture and tourism sectors.” GIs can help in marketing higher quality products. The most obvious source of growth, however, is the tourist sector. Although Grenada boasts many of the same attractions as other island nations in the region, less investment has been put into developing tourist infrastructure and attracting foreign visitors than in neighbouring islands. With just 1,500 beds on the main island of Grenada, the tourist sector is nothing like as developed as on Barbados or Jamaica, for instance, although about 300,000 visitors arrive at St George’s on cruise ships during the peak season between December and April. Nevertheless, the industry now generates more foreign currency income than agriculture. Perhaps the country’s biggest selling point is the very fact that development has been limited and the government has pledged to ensure that further development will be slow and steady. It is also keen to ensure that visitors become involved in the local culture, rather than allowing tourism to dictate local cultural development. Expansion through small hotels, rather than large resorts, would seem the obvious way to keep this balance. This strategy also encourages visitors to explore the island’s main attractions, such as Grand Etang Forest and the two-mile sands of Grand Anse Beach, rather than staying within their resorts. A marina for super yachts is planned, although this too is designed to ensure that tourists move around the island on their own, interacting with locals as they go. Grenada’s problems are not uncommon in the region. An IMF report published earlier this year, entitled ‘Caribbean Small States: Challenges of High Debt and Low Growth’, highlights a dangerous combination that threatens many of Grenada’s neighbours. There is already some limited manufacturing on the island, including that of electronic goods, which could be expanded, but ministers concede that tourism offers the best economic hope for the future. Combining rapid growth and increased employment on the one hand, while also ensuring slow, considered development on the other will not be easy, however. ● 70 l www.global -br ief ing.org f i rst quar ter 2014 global  1974 year of Grenada’s independence 98% of the population are literate 15 seats in the Grenada parliament 4% of government spending goes on health care 30% of people on the islands are unemployed 94% of the rural population have access to clean drinking water


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