CARIBBEAN POLITICS and SOCIETY
Rationale for Integration.
The Caribbean remains fragmented both economically and politically as a result of competition and conflict among the European powers. Fragmentation is in part the product of a long history as separate colonies of a metropolitan power or powers. It is also in part the psychological effects on people of separation by sea.
The case for regional integration is both simple and irrefutable. First we are small and we need to achieve economies of scale. We need to achieve such economies in markets, production, the mobilisation of regional capital for regional use, university education, science and technology, sea and air transport to mention some areas.
We therefore need to pool as far as is feasible our markets and our financial human and natural resources. We need a single unified and truly common market for goods and services, capital, and trained manpower. In addition we need to coordinate not only the development of our productive sectors but also our economic policies. And we need both a common external tariff and a common set of external trade, economic and other policies.
Very basically put, we must come closer together because even the more economically advanced and biggest of us are mere specks of dusts in international terms. To admit that we are specks of dust does not however mean that we should sink ourselves in passive apathy in economic and international matters; rather we should get together to forma an object with more mass and more weight so that our presence could be more easily seen and more effectively used in the promotion of our own interests. We are small states by world and even Hemispheric standards, we are economically and politically weak individual units.
We must avoid the temptation if at any given time our individual national economy is more prosperous than those of our other partner states, to be so arrogant as to forget that our economic situation may be suddenly reversed and that therefore we will soon need close links with our partner states in matters concerning both the intra-regional and extra-regional spheres. West Indian history abounds with instances of countries suffering sudden reversals of their economic fortunes.
Advantages of Integration.
a stronger voice internationally
small countries cannot afford to support teams of negotiators. (b)
a single team representing the region would show a united front and lessen the chance for bilateral arrangements that might lead to self-destructive intra-regional competition
more control of local\regional resources
less dependency on foreigners; therefore less exploitation
increased regional trade: less outflows of hard currency needed for development
increased movement of people and capital throughout the region
increased job opportunities for Caribbean people
the creation of a Caribbean identity
According to McAfree,
"Strengthened regional cooperation could enhance the Caribbean's self reliance and productive capacity. Exchanges of skills and technology, and a division of labour among Caribbean states in the production of various commodities and specialised services, could increase economic efficiency and the quality, range and value of what the region produces, both for local consumption and for export".
Factors Encouraging Integration.
a common history (slavery, exploitation, colonialism, etc.)
similar political institutions and ideology (Westminster)
similar social , economic and political issues (debt, crime, unemployment, etc)
the impact of international trading blocs, e.g. NAFTA, the EU
similar language and culture (English language)
similar colonial experience and subjection to neo-colonialistic and imperialistic policies
similar export relation (the entire region is dependent)
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