War and rumours of war
The Greater Caribbean This Week
By Norman Girvan

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October 14, 2001

LIKE a hurricane or other natural disaster, the attacks of September 11 killed thousands and wreaked economic havoc. But the similarity ends there.

September 11 impacted not one island but the whole world.

For the Caribbean, it was as if one powerful hurricane had overnight ravaged all the islands and the adjacent mainland, knocking out two-thirds of the tourist industry plant and a good part of the airline industry.

After a natural disaster one tries to rebuild and to gradually resume life as it was lived before.

September 11 changed the world and the assumptions by which we live. It set in train a sequence of events whose conclusions no one can foresee, and which we in the region feel powerless to influence.

It gave new meaning to the concept of the vulnerability of small states.

Consider the events of last week.

Just as several countries in the region were developing special marketing strategies and costly advertising campaigns to deal with the fall-out on tourism, and a specially convened CARICOM Summit was preparing to meet, on October 7 the United States and Britain launched a series of attacks on Afghanistan.

The U.S. announced that the war on terrorism will last for years, or decades; that it may be extended to military action in other countries; and that fresh terrorist attacks against U.S. targets are to be expected.

The Taliban and the Al-Queda leadership became more defiant and vowed retaliation, specifically mentioning the use of airliners.

In the U.S., troops were deployed at several airports.

Anti-American and anti-Western feeling boiled over among Muslim populations in Pakistan, the Arab world, and as far away as Indonesia.

Leaders of Islamic states convened an international conference and expressed their concerns about civilian casualties and the possible extension of the war to other countries.

Beyond the fact that these developments will have on-going effects on international travel and the recuperation of regional tourism, there is a growing sense that the consequences will touch all aspects of economic life.

The World Bank forecasts a reduction in the growth of developing countries in 2002 by 0.5 to 0.75 percentage points, which will push an additional 10 million people into poverty.

For Latin America and the Caribbean, both ECLAC and the IDB are forecasting stagnant growth this year, compared to 2-3 per cent growth before the attacks.

Several global conferences have also been cancelled, notably the annual World Bank/IMF meeting and the Commonwealth Summit in October and the Francophone Summit also in October.

There is uncertainty over the holding of the WTO Ministerial Meeting scheduled for Qatar in November.

Prime Minister Owen Arthur of Barbados has spoken of the possible "destruction of a paradigm" of a new world economy based on the ease and safety of international movement of all kinds.

Policies will be re-evaluated, he said; and trade liberalisation will no longer be a priority.

The 3rd ACS Summit, which is still firmly scheduled for December in Margarita Island, Venezuela, will be a timely opportunity for the political leaders of the Greater Caribbean to dialogue on the implications of these developments and the forging of collective responses.

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  • Tracking the FTAA
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  • Rescuing Caribbean tourism
    November 11, 2001

  • AIDS, Anthrax, and the WTO
    December 2, 2001

  • Meeting in Margarita
    December 9, 2001

  • Consolidating the Greater Caribbean
    December 16, 2001

  • Towards the Greater Caribbean zone of co-operation
    December 30, 2001

  • A matter of freedom
    January 6, 2002

  • Caribbean airline cooperation - a $60M question
    January 13, 2002

  • Thinking the unthinkable - Nuclear shipments
    January 20, 2002

  • Protecting the Caribbean Sea
    January 27, 2002

  • Can we have it all?
    February 3, 2002

  • Carnival: realising the potential
    February 17, 2002

  • U.S.-Central America free trade talks
    February 24, 2002

  • Humanising the FTAA
    March 3, 2002

  • The future is here
    March 10, 2002

  • NAFTA parity: certain restrictions apply
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  • Early warning for natural disasters
    April 7, 2002

  • A fragmented partnership
    April 14, 2002

  • Tourism must be sustainable
    May 5, 2002

  • U.S. farm subsidies will impact the Greater Caribbean
    May 19, 2002

  • EU-LAC Summit: Side shows and hidden agendas
    June 2, 2002

  • Rum Talk
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  • Economic Performance in the Island Caribbean
    June 23, 2002

  • Treatment of small economies
    June 30, 2002

  • The Caribbean Sea is special
    July 14, 2002

  • Relaunch of Central American integration
    July 21, 2002

  • South American summit a strategic opportunity
    August 11, 2002

  • Economic contraction and fiscal crisis in the OECS
    August 18, 2002

  • CARICOM's trade negotiations
    September 15, 2002

  • Facilitating OCT Cooperation
    October 13, 2002

  • Wilton Park conference on Cuba
    November 3, 2002

  • ACS raises $1.1M

    December 8, 2002

  • Cuba, CARICOM Cement Ties
    December 15, 2002

  • The lost half decade in Latin America and the Caribbean
    January 12, 2003

  • Central America in 2002: coffee crisis; remittances to the rescue
    January 26, 2003

  • Pan-Caribbean Security System Needed
    March 9, 2003

  • Euroregion in a Caribbean space
    March 16, 2003

  • In the shadow of war
    March 23, 2003

  • Economic collateral damage
    April 6, 2003

  • Regional Airlines in Crisis
    April 13, 2003

  • Airline integration: biting the bullet
    April 20, 2003

  • Missed deadlines
    April 27, 2003

  • Social Cohesion and the FTAA
    May 4, 2003

    May 11, 2003

  • Convergence and divergence in CAFTA
    May 18, 2003

  • CAFTA: Dispute resolution, labour and the environment
    May 25, 2003

  • Making global trade work for people
    June 1, 2003

    June 8, 2003

    June 29, 2003

    July 6, 2003

    September 29, 2003

    October 3, 2003

    October 6, 2003

    October 15, 2003

  • The Greater Caribbean This Week
    October 21, 2003

  • Latin American/Caribbean/EU summit: multilateralism, regionalism in action
    June 5, 2004