GENEVA –President of the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) Dr. Hyginus ‘Gene’ Leon, Monday warned it “cannot be business as usual” urging a new global trade deal that would allow Small Islands Development States (SIDS) to achieve their potential.

“International discourse has underscored the significance of global trade, in particular, trade liberalization for growth and economic development …at this juncture, it cannot be business as usual… we need a new deal in international trade if Small Island Developing States and other developing countries are to achieve prosperity and sustainability,” Leon told a United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Expert Meeting on Revisiting Development Strategies for SIDS in the Post-Pandemic Competitive Landscape.

The meeting is seeking to respond to the agency’s renewed mandate to assist SIDS by addressing their specific vulnerabilities, building resilience and promoting structural economic transformation and productive capacities.

The CDB president joined global leaders in trade and development in identifying many disadvantageous attributes now compounded by climate change which were conspiring to relegate the Bank’s 19 Borrowing Member Countries (BMCs) to an existence that could only be characterized as unattained potential.

“A new deal in international trade can propel the growth and development of SIDS. CDB is ready and willing to partner with other multilateral development banks, international organizations, governments, and the private sector, on the necessary reforms to reconfigure existing trade frameworks. What SIDS justly require is the leveling of the playing field to allow all participants a fair chance at victory,” Leon said.

He told the event that global leaders are now faced with a unique opportunity to re-imagine development for this grouping by creating a resilient ecosystem spanning social, financial, environmental, institutional, and productive capacity dimensions.

He said this can be achieved only by integrating frameworks of debt sustainability, quality investment-growth nexus, and resilience building in a manner that ensures internal system coherence at any time but temporal consistency over time.

The CDB president said that developing states are ready to help themselves, however, the international community can assist by counteracting existing limitations to trade and the countries’ ability to exploit its benefits.

Leon said this can be accomplished through reinforced partnerships with development banks to increase financing, deliberate attempts to industrialize knowledge and reshape private sector partnerships, and increasing overall connectivity.

These can establish alternatives that relocate SIDS from the peripheral positioning that has constrained their economic advancement for centuries, Leon said. (CMC)