Cross-border economic development: a challenge for Martinique

February 2016

Cross-border economic development: a challenge for Martinique

Martinique's potential for economic development with the other countries of the Greater Caribbean is underexploited.

The different tax and economic policies do not facilitate trade relations between border regions and especially between the outermost regions  and regions outside of the EU.

Today, 78% of Martinique's imports come from Europe, of which more than 50% are from mainland France, and less than 10% of its imports come from the Caribbean!

The optimisation of intra-Caribbean sea and air links is needed to increase the trade between neighbours in this greater region that stretches from French Guiana to Mexico.

Important strategies for the development of trade flows between mainland France and the Greater Caribbean are in place, but there is still insufficient account taken of the key role that the French Caribbean can play in its natural geographical region.

For example, in 2013 a bilateral agreement between France and Panama enabled the introduction of regular direct flights between the two countries; however, none of these flights include France's Caribbean territories (Martinique, Guadeloupe, Saint-Martin and French Guiana) in their routes. In addition, ticket prices and complicated journeys between places do not encourage links in terms of people and trade. Another example: the current discussions between Paris and Cuba about the large-scale projects that will be entrusted to French companies do not take on board the need to reserve some of these for French Caribbean SMEs, when the islands' economies are in great need of such contracts.

Moreover, some Caribbean countries have full employment, but France's Caribbean territories have not succeeded in putting in place "win-win" exchanges with them to help their young people blighted by unemployment.
Lastly, addressing the cross-border challenge means uniting France's decision-makers for its Caribbean territories around a single vision in order to launch all of the experiments that Europe encourages; it also means exploiting Guadeloupe and Martinique's recent membership of the OECS  and the ACS  and fostering joint ventures.

NB: on 11-13 May 2016, the first Caribbean Transport and Logistics Trade Fair will be held in Martinique.

The outermost regions of the European Union's territory. In the case of France in the Caribbean: Martinique, Guadeloupe, Saint-Martin and French Guiana.
2 Export figures display a similar trend.
3 OECS: the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (economic cooperation, trade, healthcare, etc.).
4 ACS: the Association of Caribbean States (economic cooperation, sustainable development, etc.).

Author: Sandra Casanova, President of Cluster GAT CARAIBES.

Read the editorial from Dr. Fritz Pinnock, Executive Director, Caribbean Maritime Institute (Jamaica)

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