The Politics of the Caribbean Basin Sugar Trade

The Politics of the Caribbean Basin Sugar Trade

The Politics of the Caribbean Basin Sugar Trade

The Politics of the Caribbean Basin Sugar Trade


Growing global interdependence made the 1970s and 1980s a volatile period in the sugar trade during a time when Caribbean countries were economically dependent on their sugar exports. This book focuses on the evolution of the U.S.--Caribbean Basin trade and its impact on political relations between the countries. The book shows how the sugar trade was not driven by laws of supply and demand, but by various political agendas. Economic protectionism, government subsidies for inefficient elements of the sugar industry, as well as corruption and mismanagement have all played a role in the sugar trade. By providing an in-depth look at the development of current policies in the sugar trade, this book offers the needed background for making informed decisions on policy questions.


For many readers, interest in sugar may be limited to the drawing on the little packets found on most restaurant tables in the United States. For those who produce the contents of those packets, however, interest with sweeteners has become a matter of economic survival and high political stakes. This volume is an attempt to assess the present state of this environment as the international sugar market moves further into the turbulent decade of the 1990s.

The search for a mature relationship between the United States and the individual Caribbean Basin nations continues, but the process is complex. in this context, U.S. policy is only one element of an interrelated agenda, but it is a critical element in the life of individual economies in the region. With a shift toward democratic governance in Central America, regional economic development and trade issues have once again risen to the surface. in the Caribbean proper, the future of the Caribbean Basin Initiative, as well as the possible impact of changes in economic relations with Europe after 1992, looms large on the horizon. How these policy elements are cutting across each other represent core themes of this book.

Nearly every nation in the region is facing the potential collapse of one of its primary export industries. the situation that confronts the sugar industry is not a classical problem involving excess production and low prices. It is much more complicated than that. the oldest industry in the New World is facing a structural problem--in effect, structural change. and how the realities of the sugar industry are to mesh with the United States regional foreign policy agenda will remain tricky through the end of the century.

With the publication of this volume, we hope that a better understanding of these serious economic and political--in other words, strategic--issues will begin.

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