St. Lucia - Foreign policy

St. Lucian diplomacy focuses primarily on relations with the United States and Caribbean countries, although historic links with the UK continue. All of these areas have been involved in the ongoing dispute over the U.S. challenge to the preferential treatment traditionally accorded to Caribbean banana exporters by EU countries. The EU has announced a phase-out of preferred access to its markets by 2006.

Anthony intends to boost the economic and political status of St. Lucia by entering into trade and diplomatic partnerships based upon mutual respect and reciprocal benefits. To this end, he has established diplomatic relations with China. In February 1999, he made a week-long visit to China, winning pledges of financial support for a number of projects, including a US $4 million sports complex. Among the other countries visited by Anthony were Japan and Cuba. On a regional level, the government intends to deepen its relations with Guadeloupe and Martinique because of St. Lucia's shared cultural and historic ties with these French islands. With its fellow Caribbean nations, St. Lucia seeks to set up a Caribbean Court of Justice as a final arbiter of the islands' laws.

Another form of investment which Anthony hopes to encourage is from St. Lucian citizens residing abroad, who are being encouraged to return home through programs easing their reintegration into society, amending the customs regulations to provide concessions on household and personal effects, and increasing investment opportunities. Returned nationals who invest in St. Lucia should help to develop the retirement industry and assist in the expansion of local economic opportunities.

Anthony wants his foreign policy to focus on economic and social development and hopes to create a St. Lucian niche in the global economy. The focus of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its overseas offices will be directed at creating trade and investment opportunities. The economic developments in St. Lucia encountered a stall in 2003, however, as the world economy slumped, also affecting the growth of St. Lucia's economy. Nearly 81% of businesses reported lower than projected sales during this slump.

St. Lucia is a member of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU), through which the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) issues a common currency for all members of the ECCU. The ECCB also manages monetary policy, and regulates and supervises commercial banking activities in its member countries. St. Lucia is a beneficiary of the U.S. Caribbean Basin Initiative and is a member of the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

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