French Antilles and French Guiana - Future trends

The Caribbean departments of France are in a unique position in the developing world. Despite the underdeveloped nature of their individual economies, status as French departments has ensured high amounts of subsidization and transfers that have helped to maintain relatively high levels of living standards, especially in the context of South America and the Caribbean. High levels of unemployment would be even higher without the large number of jobs provided by the French governmental bureaucracy and public works. The major challenge for the CDF, therefore, relates to achieving a level of sustainable development that will end this pattern of dependency. The massive increases in the number of small- and medium-size enterprises in the commercial sector is a promising sign. Activities such as those found in the industrial sector must also be strengthened, however, while food production capacity must be increased. Terminating the pattern of unequal trade is of the utmost importance. Tourism and agricultural exports, though important, cannot be promoted as the bases of the CDF economies. Of course, sustainable development is highly elusive, and the French government will have to continue providing support and aid in a context of careful developmental planning in order to realize this goal.

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