St. Lucia - Future trends
St. Lucia's economic future depends to a large extent on the fate of its banana industry. If, as the pessimists fear, the EU is forced to abandon its preferential market arrangement, St. Lucia and the other Caribbean producers will be unable to compete with large-scale plantation economies in Latin America. This will spell the end of an export-oriented banana industry and may create severe hardship and increased unemployment in the countryside. It is possible that the banana industry will survive, but even so, the need for agricultural diversification remains acute. Some hope may lie in organic and fair-trade initiatives, especially in Europe, where growing numbers of consumers are prepared to pay higher prices for goods deemed to be environmentally and ethically produced.
Manufacturing does not seem to provide a working alternative to the banana industry as of yet. The greatest potential lies in continuing the growth of tourism and sustaining a program of construction works. St. Lucia's ambition to become a financial center may be realized, but that route is not without its own consequences. The construction of a financial industry on St. Lucia would leave the island open to illegal money laundering operations. The island's success story as a tourist destination offers the greatest grounds for optimism. The problem remains of how to link the tourism sector to the rest of the economy so that the benefits may be felt through all social classes on the island: farmers, tour guides, and bankers alike.