: Discuss Economic Developments in the Caribbean Region Since 1914

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COURSE CODE: H20G

COURSE TITLE: FREEDOM, DECOLONIZATION AND INDEPENDENCE IN THE CARIBBEAN SINCE 1804

ASSIGNMENT: 2

DUE DATE: MARCH 26, 2012

Question # 1: Discuss Economic Developments in the Caribbean region since 1914
Slavery is a central part of the Caribbean economies which has shaped their cultural values. During the period of slavery, Caribbean economies were essentially agrarian based where the main focus lied in the cultivation of large plantation crops (especially sugar cane), livestock farming, cattle rearing and trade and commerce. After the Caribbean territories gained their independence, each territory sought to find different means of transforming and developing their economy. As highlighted earlier, most Caribbean territories focus of economical development was based on sugar cultivation but during the period of independence they were affected by the increased cost of production, emancipation, and competition from other crops, technological innovations and capital investment problems. The twentieth century saw a wave of new economic, political and social adjustments of the Caribbean territories. There were the introductions of new economic activities and industries which saw a change in the economic atmosphere of the Caribbean territories. As the nineteenth century came to a close, the economic yield of the region became diversified and imports and exports increased. One of the most influential areas in Caribbean economic development was trade and commerce. For most of the Caribbean territories, trading was done mainly with the United States as the state had taken up an interest in foreign affairs and international relations within the Caribbean region. Additionally the United States had control over some Caribbean territories including the Spanish territories of Cuba and Puerto Rico, between 1901 and 1898 respectively and as such during the first half of the twentieth century, trading could only be done with them. Between the 1920s and 1950s trade in Cuba was done mainly with sugar cane, coffee, minerals et cetera. Trade flourished where the Spanish territory introduced 75 duty reductions on imports from the United States. Up until 1957 more than two-thirds of Cuban foreign trade was with the U.S. After the Baptiste Regime was overthrown, Cuba’s trade shifted to the Soviet Union and other socialist countries. During this time there were exports in oil, Nickel and tobacco. By the end of the 1980s almost three-fourths of Cuba's trade was with the Soviet Union, on extremely beneficial terms for Cuba. Cuba's overall trade declined sharply after the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991. In 1995 trade accounted for approximately 10% of the country’s GDP. Puerto Rico’s economy as well depended on trade as well beginning in 1914. Trade could only be done with Spain and the U.S until 1952 when the country became a commonwealth. During the period of U.S. rule there was the freedom of entry into the Caribbean market. This led to the development of the sugar and tobacco crop. As a result of this in 1920 “exports rose to $150,811,449 and imports in 1921 was worth $105,479,703 in 1921 and $54,754,711 in 1944” (Jones, 1996). At the end of U.S. rule in Puerto Rico Spain was purchasing one-quarter of the country’s exports and Cuba almost another quarter. The United States, France and Germany each took 10 per cent. Coffee, the leading export, went to Spain and Cuba; Sugar, next in importance was shipped to the United States, Spain and Great Britain. Tobacco found a market in Spain and Cuba. Trade and commerce was also taking place in many places in the British West Indies as well. According to Beckles and Shepherd (1993) “export trade in the British Islands showed in a number of the units spectacular increases to the peak of prosperity between 1929 and 1940.” British Guiana traded with Europe and North America, commodities such as sugar cane, coffee and fruits. Trinidad exported petroleum products...
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