The perceptual map of the Caribbean that most share has changed very little since the days of the cold war. This framework, which neatly divides the region by language and history, and conditions most policy and commercial responses, may now be of limited utility and may require revision.
Other than Trinidad, the countries offering the greatest future economic potential are likely to be the three Guianas, Belize, the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas, plus Panama and nations like Nicaragua and Guatemala in Central America. Cuba too continues to have potential, especially if its economic restructuring process takes root.
These are all countries with relatively sound growth rates, in some cases minerals and hydrocarbons, actual or proposed infrastructure projects of significance, and the possibility of benefitting from investment from advanced developing economies such as China or Brazil.
Until relatively recently little interest had been shown in relation to offshore oil and gas in the Caribbean Basin other than in Venezuela and Trinidad. However, the technology to drill and recover oil and gas offshore from great depths now exists and demand for energy is forecast to remain high in response to the continuing industrialisation of advanced developing nations.
Exploration is underway, planned or licensing is being considered in blocks off the coasts of French Guiana; Suriname; Guyana; Belize; Barbados; the Bahamas: the Dominican Republic; Cuba; Jamaica; and Grenada.
This makes it possible to imagine parts of the Caribbean, a decade or more from now as becoming energy rich, net exporters of oil and gas, and in some cases even having to address the problems associated with having wealth which apply to national development and overseas investment.
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