From the end of November 2020, we started discussing the kinds of sustainable development policies and strategies that a DFP government will pursue should we get the nod to govern this country once again. But we took a break over the last two weeks to bring you messages of hope in the season of good cheer and at the beginning of the year. Let us now resume our discussion and in this article, we will continue to discuss the necessary conditions that a Dominica Freedom Party (DFP) government will work towards to set Dominica on a path to prosperity and shared growth. In two previous articles we discussed the necessity to create a stable macro-economic environment. We noted that to attract authentic investors to our shores, it will be important to create a stable macro-economic environment and key elements in that regard are, maintaining sound fiscal operations; encouraging the stable and sound operation of the financial sector; and building resilience in the face of economic and environmental vulnerabilities. We gave some details on these elements.
Foundation efforts to “clean and restore sound fiscal operations – a major plank for achieving a stable macro-economic environment, will be complemented by the pursuit of several other outcomes necessary to drive a thriving economy and build prosperity. One major area is trade with the rest of the world which has been a major basis for pursuing prosperity. But since losing access to European markets for bananas, no other significant export crop has emerged. Moreover, the export of manufactured goods declined significantly from the heights it was during 1990’s, while tourism services (other than education tourism) never became significant despite government policy agenda to grow the industry. But even the relative success in education tourism was snuffed by the departure of ROSS university in 2017. The overall result has been that the country’s traditional pathways to prosperity have not mushroomed but rather have been constricted, nor has the country been able to tap into non-traditional opportunities. These realities have contributed to extreme poverty, low living standards and high unemployment in the country.
The Dominica Freedom Party is ready to help lead our country out of this malaise largely brought about by corrupt and inept government. Initially, we will aim to restore significant exports of agricultural commodities and processed goods, while accelerating growth in tourist arrivals and expenditure in line with our areas of natural advantage. Because Dominica is so far behind other Caribbean countries in the area of tourism, and because the kind of tourism product that the country can develop could be one that is unique and even superior to those of other Caribbean jurisdictions, the potential for gaining tourism market is great if the right product development and promotion policies and strategies are pursued. But, in an “all-out” effort to expand trade, much focus will also be given to development non-traditional areas of export production including those opportunities that arise from innovation and from leveraging our human capital at home and abroad.
With the right strategies and with leadership of integrity, Dominica can achieve annual export growth of 5% over an extended period. To attain such export growth target, a DFP government will implement several direct strategies that will address the most pressing constraints to export market penetration. These will be complemented by policies for developing the private sector which will be discussed in later articles. Direct market-penetration strategies will encompass, robust market intelligence operations; effective efforts to encourage and assist entrepreneurs to achieve adequate technical standards for exports; the establishment of an export financing facility; and improved export promotion efforts. We will speak in more details on each of these strategies in the next article.
Clearly, strategies to expand export goes beyond those directly in relation to the penetration of export markets. Importantly, at the foundation must be effort at expanding our international competitiveness. This will require us to carefully understand the sources of our advantage, correctly discern changing international taste and trends, and on the basis of such knowledge, fashion the type of products and services that will allow us to gain market share and stay ahead in the industry segments in which we can be most competitive.
But from time to time there will be disruptions in the economy brought about by external shocks. Dominica by its geography is exposed to extreme weather events that can disrupt our ability to export for some period of time. Hence our export strategies must be contemplated to address resilience as much as is possible and our planning system must be very responsive to changing environments and emerging realities or opportunities. Take for instance, the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the tourism industry. A well-designed reserve fund would have better allowed the country to cope with the impact of the shock and prepare the country to be in a stronger competitive position in terms of the new tourism realities that will emerge.
Dominica Freedom Party.