China in the Caribbean’s Economic Future

The remarkable surge in Chinese economic productivity, especially since the turn of the century, has been of material benefit to every economy in the world trading system, and the Caribbean has shared in those benefits. The most substantial benefit to the Caribbean from the relationship with China has been via the purchase of more affordable products made in China or made with Chinese inputs. The Caribbean has secured additional imports that may be of the order of five to ten per cent, compared with what the same money would have bought from alternative sources. This benefit may not increase in the future, and may well decline, if the anti-globalisation sentiment now sweeping across many Western nations is not reversed in the near future, and the region's access to Chinese products is reduced. By comparison, the benefits from Chinese investment in the Caribbean, and from exports to China and Chinese tourism to the Caribbean, while not insignificant, are much less substantial. Caribbean strategies for transportation upgrades and investment, renewable energy adoption, use of digital currencies and universal use of the US dollar, offer promise of reaping benefits for the Caribbean from the China connection in the medium to long term, even in the face of Western isolationism.