COVID-19 induced an interruption to global trade, because at least 40% of the world’s population is in some kind of lockdown and therefore not gainfully employed. The international Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that about 25 million additional people will be unemployed globally during this financial crisis.
In 2008-2009, there were 22 million additional persons unemployed due to the crisis.
It’s important to prepare, because if unemployment increases and persists, it leads to deflation, like what happened during the Great Depression of the 1930’s.
Historically, the only way out of it would be for the government to create jobs, as the New Deal in the United States did in the 1930’s. Hopefully, the private sector would follow suit, not by just doing meaningless infrastructure projects, but by doing projects that increase efficiency.
For example, don’t build bridges to nowhere, but build bridges that cut transportation costs. Don’t just pave streets, but create a more efficient network that improves connectivity and improves the quality of life. Create agricultural jobs so that we can feed ourselves and export the excess.
A more aggressive industrialization program must be pursued. The fall is inevitable, but a rise is uncertain. If developing countries like Belize continue to react to circumstances and not create a better world for ourselves, Belize will only be a vassal of the developed nations, whether it’s the United States, China or Europe.
The future is fraught with danger, but ripe with opportunities. If this global crisis does not weaken Belize, it will make her stronger.
Brian E. Plummer