There have been 14 global recessions since 1870: in 1870, 1876, 1885, 1893, 1908, 1914, 1917-21, 1930-32, 1938, 1945-46, 1975, 1982, 1991, 2009, and 2020. This present global recession will be more than 90% compared to 85% in the Great Depression of 1930-32, according to a recent World Bank report.
What is troubling is a decline in global per capita income by 6.2%, which is unprecedented. This means millions will be pushed into extreme poverty globally, and thousands locally.
Tourism is an industry that depends on disposable income, but since all the countries whose citizens travel to the Caribbean will be in a recession indefinitely, traveling will diminish significantly. Coupled with the additional restrictions due to COVID-19, traveling will become less pleasant.
Oil prices will be moderate for at least a year. This means that Belize has to diversify —agriculture, agro-processing, import substitutions and international consulting. This will mean investing in agriculture and negotiating with importers who are usually campaign contributors.
This will be politically difficult, but is necessary — investing in developing our human capital that can offer educational services, legal services, and medical services virtually. This will become more popular due to more people working from home, using the internet.
Companies will want to expand this trend because it’s cheaper and increases their profit. The Caribbean and Belize can benefit from this global trend.
The world will change due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Belize needs to adapt to the new reality.
Brian Ellis Plummer