Grenada and other Caribbeans

PRESIDENT Reagan's brief visit to Grenada last week was a useful reminder of the extent to which United States foreign policy can be a positive force for the global agenda. The cheers of the crowds that greeted Mr. Reagan in St. George's underscored the feelings of Grenadians, who continue to be grateful that US troops intervened to topple a hard-line Marxist government in 1983. And for Mr. Reagan there was political gain to be made, what with footage on American television sets of the President visiting the scene of what the White House considers one of his major foreign policy accomplishments. The President was also given a choice forum for his criticisms of the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua -- not all that far away from where he was speaking.

Beyond all the public relations atmospherics, however, the visit was useful because of the administration's continued economic focus on the Caribbean. Mr. Reagan said that the US would help Grenada and 20 other Caribbean nations to increase their textile and apparel trade with the US. Such an effort is important. So too is Reagan's announcement that the US will triple scholarships from the region and mount a program to improve local judicial systems.

The US has an obvious and proper interest in furthering the economic betterment of the Caribbean.

More needs to be said, however. While the President was telling Caribbean nations that their textile trade to the US would be expanded, the White House back in Washington was hinting that it would tighten import restrictions against textile imports from other parts of the world, especially Asia. While special marketing agreements with particular nations, or regions, such as the Caribbean, are useful, it would still seem more advantageous for the US to seek a worldwide liberalization of trading restrictions in general -- to encourage expanded world commerce. The Caribbean announcement also serves as a reminder that many other parts of the world where there are smaller nations or communities -- such as many island nations throughout East Asia and the Pacific Ocean -- continue to find tough going in marketing their own products with Western industrial nations. These ``other Caribbeans'' of the world should also not be taken for granted by the major powers.

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