This study assesses the economic performance of Central American and a selection of Caribbean (CAC) countries over the past 30 years, using the Human Development Index as the measure of gains in the overall well-being of their populations. The majority of CAC populations are in the categories of High and Very High Human Development, and there has been steady improvement in almost every case. Growth in real GDP per capita was strongest in the countries that export manufactured goods, along with significant receipts from tourism and other activities.
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 paper was presented at the Symposium “The Caribbean on the Edge: Rising Above the Orthodoxy of Development Thinking”, organized by the Insititute of International Relations, University of the West Indies, St Augustine, Trinidad on September 11, 2019.