Reconsidering the Options
It's the only thing we can sell to live on.
-- Banana farmer on the island of Dominica.
It's like a giant squashing an ant.
-- General manager of the Dominica Banana Marketing Association, commenting on the U.S. request that the World Trade Organization declare the EU's special marketing arrangements for bananas from the small islands of the Caribbean a violation of free trade.
Almost any crop you grow here could be outgrown by someone else.
-- Dominican Minister of Agriculture, regarding recommendation that farmers substitute other crops for bananas. 1
Although the above interchange refers to the "Great Banana War" of 1997, it captures the more general challenge that globalization poses for the Caribbean. These small island territories, which have depended heavily on the export of one or two products for their economic and social well-being, appear to be incapable of competing in the emerging world economy, which is structured around free trade, large transnational corporations, and global finance. Their markets are too small and their costs of production are too high, either for traditional Caribbean exports like bananas and sugar or for nontraditional activities, from exotic fruits exports to tourism and financial services. And just as the Caribbean's economic viability is waning, the region has lost the strategic bargaining power that helped secure protected access to European