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Globalisation taking toll on Caribbean (Read 802 times)

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Globalisation taking toll on Caribbean
Sep 20th, 2003 at 8:57am
Brain drain horrors - by Andy Johnson
Date: Saturday, September 20, 2003
Source: - Trinidad Daily Express

-- Globalisation taking toll on Caribbean, says economist

Caribbean countries have suffered massive brain drain since the
decade of the 1990s with the onset of globalisation, but there is yet
no data to gauge any tangible benefits from its steady march, an
economist with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has found.

Dr Ajit Ghose, senior economist with ILO office in Geneva, made this
disclosure during a lecture at the Central Bank auditorium Thursday

He was at the time presenting data from his study on the impact of
globalisation. These findings have been the subject of a recent ILO
publication under his name, entitled Jobs and Incomes in a
Globalising World, the title of his discourse on Thursday.

The presentation sought to answer a number of questions which he said
were thrown up by the advance of globalisation, and which he said had
caused worries and concerns among populations in developed as well as
developing countries.

In one case, he said, the concerns of the populations in the
developed countries about migration from the south to the north have
not been borne out. Also, he said, the fears among some countries and
observers that globalisation was leading to "a race to the bottom"
also were largely not the case.

This is the contention that because of increased competition for
markets as centres of production, labour standards and wages would be

By and large, he said however, labour standards remained relatively
high across a range of developed and developing countries he
observed, and income levels increased. But, he said, the data showed
that income inequality also increased, and the level of inequality
itself increased among some developed and developing countries.

Looking at data from a range of countries around the world for the
period covering 1980 to 1998, Ghose, an Indian national, said he
found a group of about 37 countries may have grown much faster than
the rest of the world. The data was fashioned in a way to gauge
activity in three defined categories. These he listed as trade in
Total Goods and Services, Manufacturing for Export and Foreign Direct

And, Dr Ghose said, the data showed a number of interesting results,
many of which challenged the accepted wisdoms on globalisation. Among
them, he said, Manufacturing for Export was the most dynamic of the
three categories. He said countries which were producers of primary
products, including petroleum and petrochemical products, tended to
be left behind; others he characterised as "a certain set of
developing countries which have grown much faster".

Those included in the category referred to as the Asian tigers—China,
India, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore. This had led
Ghose to conclude that largeness was a major success factor
while "smallness becomes a disadvantage".

It was the issue of relative size, Ghose said towards the end of the
45-minute presentation, which influenced his decision not to include
Caribbean economies in that phase of his study.

But when he looked at the issue of migration as an element of
globalisation, he produced startling figures to demonstrate its
impact on the Caribbean.

As a proportion of persons who migrated to the United States in 1990,
Ghose said 44 per cent from Trinidad and Tobago were those with
tertiary level education. In Jamaica it was 69 per cent, Guyana 81
per cent. From El Salvador it was 47 per cent, Sierra Leone 25 per
cent and Gambia 58 per cent.

"This is what you call the brain drain," Ghose said, saying that "the
skills gap will increase, global inequality will increase and the
free movement of labour will not help developing countries". These
figures included students who went away to study and refused to
return, many of them being educated at the expense of their home
states, adding that the real employment problem in these countries
was not being helped by these developments.

He added that this was a total reversal from migration in the 19th
century when the majority of the migrants were unskilled people.

But despite this trend, he said, the global picture on south to north
migration was in actual decline, so that "the great deal of worry
among the populations of the north is not really necessary".

Ghose was in Trinidad this week as part of an exercise by the
Ministry of Labour and the ILO Caribbean office in Port of Spain,
aimed at establishing the framework for labour market analysis in
Trinidad and Tobago.[-End]


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