The external economic relations of the Caribbean

A comparison between the USA and the European Union

Authored by: Ginelle Greene Dewasmes , Tony Heron

Handbook of Caribbean Economies

Print publication date:  November  2020
Online publication date:  November  2020

Print ISBN: 9780367210489
eBook ISBN: 9780429265105
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter explores the changing external economic relations of the Caribbean with its two biggest trading partners, the USA and the European Union (EU), from the twentieth century to the present day. During the immediate post-colonial period the Caribbean benefited from key US and EU trade policy instruments such as the Caribbean Economic Recovery Act and the Lomé Agreement, respectively. However, amid a changing global landscape, over time the US- and EU-Caribbean’s relationship has increasingly been portrayed as one of diminished privilege and a steady erosion of preferential treatment. The post-Cold War and World Trade Organization era have ushered in trade policy shifts demonstrated by arrangements such as the EU’s Economic Partnership Agreements and former US President Clinton’s attempted ‘Free Trade Area of the Americas’. In the present epoch, external developments such as the election of Donald Trump to the presidency of the USA and Brexit have once more elicited a major shift in the nature of US- and EU-Caribbean relations. Although the precise implications of these changes are not yet clear, current US- and EU-Caribbean relations certainly reflect terms that are increasingly shaped by national rather than regional or global interests.

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