Letters — 18 November 2017
The 2017 world order, and beyond …

Dear Editor,

We live in a multipolar world. The United States (US) is no longer the undisputed leader of the world. China is a direct challenge to US hegemony. Venezuela is also a threat to the old world order because she is influencing Latin America and the Caribbean. North Korea is a military challenge to US dominance. Iran is a threat to US control of the Middle East. Russia is also a threat to the US military dominance. In the Caribbean and Belize the threat of climate change and crime are other aspects of the world in flux.

The countries that come out on top of this new world order will be resilient and assertive of their interest. The US has pulled out of The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), or the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), which is a trade agreement between Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States (until 23rd January 2017), designed to hinder the influence of China.

On June 1, 2017, United States President Donald Trump announced that the U.S. would cease all participation in the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change mitigation. This accord is designed to give vulnerable states to climate change such as small island states of the Caribbean a modicum of hope to mitigate the negative effects of climate change – a global problem.

The US will pull out of UNESCO in 2018. UNESCO represents the soft power of the United Nations where a world order is encouraged through culture and education rather than force. People usually choose leaders that they think will be beneficial to them.

China recently unveiled the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road to allow countries to benefit from its endeavors and consequently become allies. For the Caribbean de-risking and other classifications by the US have not been helpful.

The offshore industry of the Caribbean has been decimated by US lead regulation. Offshore banking is very popular in the Caribbean. It is an attempt for Caribbean countries to generate income as most are not industrialized, and manufacturing is challenging given their circumstance. The New York Times states that the Cayman Islands has US$1.9 trillion on deposit in 281 banks, including 40 of the world’s top 50 banks, so offshore banking is an integral part of Caribbean economy.

Fourteen nations in the wider Caribbean have been named by the US as “major money laundering” countries in the 2016 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR). This is bad for Caribbean economies. If there are not enough benefits from the US global leadership countries will look elsewhere.

China’s President Xi Jinping visited Trinidad and Tobago in 2013 with US $3 billion in loans for Caribbean countries.

The search of capital is for cheaper sources of labor. Human history from Roman times (we have data on standard of living) shows little improvement in standard of living but from 1820 until present, due to productivity improvement, standard of living improved drastically.

The world is moving to a more service-driven economy. It is predictable that if a country doesn’t join the productive sector in the next 20 years, it will be impractical in the future. Natural resources in modern developed economies have proven to be inadequate. Natural resources appropriated by a small number of people do not benefit a country on a whole. The recent Paradise Papers show the threat of financial exposure to external shock of a developed world-controlled system. Bermuda and Cayman have been named as international money laundering countries; 28% of Bermuda’s GDP is from financial services so they are vulnerable to international financial systems which they have no control over.

Mr. Trump visited Beijing and this demonstrates that the US and China are inextricably linked similar to how the United Kingdom and the US were in the 1940’s. They have a struggle for dominance like Jamaica and Trinidad do in CARICOM but they have a symbiotic relationship. The Venezuelan influence in the Americas cannot be underestimated; see how the OAS was paralyzed in sanctioning Venezuela all because of the influence of Petrocaribe – many Latin American and Caribbean countries have benefited from concessionary oil loans which have helped the cash flow in their domestic economy.

No matter what the United States does, Venezuela will survive because they are willing to fight to the end. They have a model in Hugo Chavez. The Iran and North Korean factors are helping Venezuela by demonstrating that the US is not omnipotent and is dissipating power by spreading it too thin.

My view is that of a wave of resetting the international order when the head of the IMF states: Which might very well mean, that if we have this conversation in 10 years’ time, we might not be sitting in Washington DC. We will do it in Beijing. “That’s a possibility. And it’s actually called for in the articles of the IMF that the head office has to be in the largest economy in the institution,” Lagarde said.

China now has the world’s largest economy using purchasing parity, but the second largest in actual GDP. It is expected that in about 10 years China will have the world’s largest GDP. What does this mean for the world order? It means China will be the most powerful country in the world!!! Whoever got the gold makes the rules – is this true?

The recent hurricanes that decimated several Caribbean countries mean that they will have to rebuild. United States and Europe will not be able to assist them to the extent they desire – guaranteed. CARICOM countries will stand shoulder to shoulder with them because they know that eventually, they will experience a similar fate because climate change increases that possibility geometrically.

Why am I bringing all these conundrums; because as Malcom X said, the future belongs to who prepare for it today. If Belize prepares for a future of global change, Belize will come out being a beneficiary of the new world order, but if Belize acts subservient to the old order, it will be adversely affected.
The choice is clear: build, or regress.

Yours truly,
Brian Ellis Plummer

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