Poverty in Saint LuciaSaint Lucia is a popular tourist destination in the Caribbean, with tourism increasing each year. In 2014 alone, 338,158 visitors stayed on Saint Lucia, a six percent increase from 2013. Although Saint Lucia is a thriving tourist destination for those with expendable income to relax, many of its citizens face poverty. Poverty in Saint Lucia, as found by UNICEF, measures at 18.7 percent of households and 25.1 percent of individuals.

UNICEF’s Poverty Assessment Report for Saint Lucia highlights 10 main causes of poverty in Saint Lucia. The first of these causes is the decline in earnings from the banana industry. The agriculture industry employs 21.7 percent of Saint Lucia’s labor force. Agricultural Minister Ezechiel Joseph stated that there is a demand for Saint Lucia’s bananas, but that banana farmers need “to be able to produce the fruit in a sustainable basis.” Greater productivity and consistency are needed to satisfy potential buyers, recover the failing banana industry and reduce poverty in Saint Lucia.

An additional cause of poverty in Saint Lucia is the developing light manufacturing industry. Some of Saint Lucia’s light manufacturing exports include clothing, electronic components and corrugated cardboard boxes. While Saint Lucia produces quality products and has been commended for its strengths in light manufacturing by the Caribbean Export Development Agency, the Commerce Minister of Saint Lucia noted that there is work to be done to improve competitiveness and export potential in order to keep up with growing international competitors. The light manufacturing industry in Saint Lucia has the potential for great economic gain for the country, but has yet to bring that gain to fruition.

Failings by the government also contribute to poverty in Saint Lucia. In its report, UNICEF highlights poor infrastructure’s role in contributing to continued poverty in Saint Lucia. Many communities lack electricity, safe drinking water and usable roads, isolating them from other communities and limiting the types of industries in which they can take part. For these communities, agriculture is the main industry and is not likely to be a lucrative venture.

Additionally, the government is limited in its resources to provide a “safety-net” for those facing poverty because of its own financial difficulties. This compounds the problem of poverty in Saint Lucia; as the government faces hard times, it cannot provide as many services to its people, increasing the level of poverty for its citizens.

To truly alleviate poverty in Saint Lucia, economic expansion is key, particularly in the agriculture and ligh manufacturing industries, as these employ most of Saint Lucia’s poor. If these industries grow and compete in the international market, Saint Lucia’s poorest citizens will find themselves with more jobs, more money and greater peace of mind.

Mary Kate Luft

Photo: Flickr

Boeing Ecosystem: Striking Manufacturing Deal with Morocco
In September, the country of Morocco signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the aerospace industry giant Boeing, signifying a leap forward in pursuits to increase the industrial presence of the company in the North African region. Boeing aeronautics and astronautics, the world’s leading manufacturer of commercial jets, established a separate joint entity with Safran Power Systems in 2015 and is now manifested as MATIS Aerospace. Investment in the creation of a “Boeing ecosystem” seeks to attract aeronautical suppliers and to facilitate a spike in exports of manufacturing exports in the sector.

In 2013 the Oxford Business Group attributed a $1 billion turnover and the employment of 10,000 individuals to the Moroccan aerospace sector. The nation’s aerospace industry is now ranked 15th internationally and is the host of 120 companies in the sector.

Morocco, through the establishment of the Boeing ecosystem, aims to create over 8,000 jobs and projects annual export revenues to reach $1 billion. Hindered growth forecasts as a result of the European financial crisis have increased the vitality of growth of the job market. In 2012, The World Bank reported unemployment among citizens ranging from 15 to 29 years of age to be 30 percent, which is especially startling considering these individuals constitute 44 percent of the working-age citizenry. The IMA aeronautics institute, strategically located next to the international airport in Casablanca, also provides prospective employees with new hire and continuing education resources and is a state-run collaboration between the aforementioned government and industry.

Strategies for the development of Morocco’s industrial sector from 2014 to 2020 have also been outlined in an Industrial Acceleration Plan (PAI). The Moroccan Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Investment and Digital Economy highlights the establishment of half a million jobs, equally derived from foreign direct investment and a renovated industrial hub. A nine-point rise in the nation’s industrial share of GDP to 23 percent by 2020 has also been recognized as pivotal to reach the plan’s aim for industrial growth.

Amber Bailey

Photo: Flickr

India: Unseized OpportunityRecent articles have been calling attention to the success of China in reducing the number o her citizens living in extreme poverty, a line demarcated at earnings of less than $1.50 a day. Today, 680 million fewer Chinese live below the extreme poverty line than did thirty years ago. This drastic reduction is largely attributed to the massive urbanization China has undergone since the 80s, with millions of impoverished rural Chinese moving to cities to seek out jobs, mainly in manufacturing. And while these workers may now still live in poverty, they at least now are above the extreme poverty line.

So what then is going wrong with China’s neighbor across the Himalayas? India today has nearly the same number of impoverished citizens as it did thirty years ago, 400 million. And while that may be a drop in percentage, as India’s population has boomed, it doesn’t exactly represent a giant leap forward.

China and India have paralleled each other for some time with regards to population, but that reflection is at an end, with China’s population now trending downwards, while India’s continues to rise. So is India poised to become the next China and take over manufacturing duties for the world? It is true that there’s a shift occurring in China. The labor force is shrinking while wages increase, and as the country continues to increase its global economic presence many manufacturing jobs in China will soon be moving elsewhere. Cumbersome bureaucracy, however, and a lack of suitable firms and factories, may prevent India from competing for these 85 million manufacturing jobs. Other Southeast Asian countries already have the infrastructure in place and are absorbing some of the demand for cheap manufactured goods as China’s economy shifts. India is in danger of missing out or being bypassed as this opportunity presents itself.

The size of India’s workforce is poised to surpass that of China within the next few years. The question that lingers though is whether these millions will have somewhere to turn. India could well experience the next boom and emulate the growth of China, but the necessary reforms have been slow in coming.

The opportunity is there, but it’s anyone’s guess whether ‘Made in China’ will become ‘Made in India’ anytime soon.

David Wilson

Sources: The Economist
Photo: IBT