Neoliberalism Part 3: What Happened in Jamaica?

Kingston, Jamaica
Kingston, Jamaica

In order to understand how Neoliberalism affects Jamaica, We have to look at some history. The Island was a colonial possession of England until its independence in 1962. Many countries that have been colonies of westerns powers have had trouble, like Jamaica, when they have attempted to enter the global economy without the economic support of their colonizer’s economy. To mitigate economic hardships, create economic growth and help reduce poverty many of these countries take out loans for international financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. These loans are conditional, based upon a restructuring of the country’s economy to fit neoliberal ideals. This means reduction protectionist import tariffs and subsidies for sectors like agriculture. These countries most notably struggle in their agricultural sectors because of the changes caused by the neoliberal loan conditions. This problem is rampant in Jamaica because the conditions of their loan from the IMF have created a vicious cycle for famers who struggle to make ends meet. This happened because Jamaica was forced to reduce subsidies for agricultural production, making locally grown food much more expensive. This might not have been a huge problem, if Jamaica had not also gotten rid of import tariffs on agriculture imports from the United States.

This means that the imported food products for the United States are sold at a lower price than the food grown locally in Jamaican farming communities.

An example of this is the once prosperous dairy industry. With the elimination of import tariffs, U.S. powered milk imports have virtually driven the Jamaican milk producers out of business, because their locally produced milk is much more expensive that their imported counterpart. This loss of strong industry has negatively affected the Jamaican economy overall, because although people are getting cheaper milk, this economic relationship creates dependency and a loss of quality product.

If you decide to go to Jamaica on vacation, it is almost guaranteed that the milk in your coffee traveled as far as you did and had to be reconstituted into liquid form.


The neoliberal regime has had a crippling effect on Jamaica’s economic growth because of the dependent relationship the loan conditions. The loans have also created a debt cycle that the country might not ever get out of with out loan forgiveness because local economies cannot grow when dependent on larger more prosperous economies for imports of basic necessities. Neoliberalism, for countries like Jamaica, is just colonialism in the form of capitalism.

1 comment

  1. Great ending to your three part series! You really bring the previous two articles together and describe how neoliberalism is adversely affecting the Jamaican economy. I also really enjoyed the layout with the cool pictures and block quotes.

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