Caribbean integration movement
I read with great interest a March 4, 2012 article in the Jamaica Gleaner by former Assistant Secretary General of the CARICOM Secretariat, where he argues that poor leadership – political, institutional, and business – has failed the Caribbean integration process. In a recent Facebook discussion I was engaged in, a learned colleague questioned the relevance of regionalism. That regionalism is now being put up to question is not only troubling, but also speaks to low-level institutional push behind the integration movement, and perhaps sadly a psychological retreat from it among Caribbean peoples. This is most manifest in the clear slowing of the once accelerated momentum to make the Caribbean single market and economy a reality. Only 15 Caribbean countries are full members of CARICOM, while the five British overseas territories – Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands and the Cayman Islands maintain associate status. CARICOM must be expanded for it to remain viable. We cannot underestimate the importance of ‘scale’ in this new global community where trade and development are driven via regional political blocs. Although there are some individual examples of strong economies within the Caribbean, these governments would be foolish to believe that, on their own, they will hold weight among giant economies trade. The example of Europe is a good one. Although these nations have fought many wars with each other historically, they recognised that in order to survive in the new world order, against the new dispensation (competition India, China, USA etc). they must band together. No European country, by itself, has the scale to compete, so they have to come together to compete. The European Union, despite its recent setback, remains a strong and viable institution. Europe knows it cannot go forward without it. They negotiate as one bloc – adopt free movement of goods and services, of capital. Economically and politically, they form bloc; they negotiate in any forum, any trade deal as one bloc, so that they can acquire the resources to look after their people. Caribbean Integration
The Caribbean Community has a membership of some 15 countries. Yet we want as 15 small island nations to compete against USA, China, Europe. This is an impossibility. Caribbean countries do not have the scale and have serious economic problems. Many investors talking about even larger African countries confess that there is no value in building a large company in a small country. Operating from a small country is more costly so the production is itself is too expensive to sustain. Economic integration is a must. We need to accelerate the Caribbean Single Market & Economy – free movement of people goods, services and labour across borders. We need to work on that; we need to get over the xenophobia, fear of the ‘other’ that amazingly exists among Caribbean nationals; the archaic notion that says without one there is naught; the notion that the others will rape the resources of the economically buoyant. We need to work together in order to prosper. We need to build our individual infrastructures across the Caribbean region. We also must chart efficient flight routes connecting each other. Eleven hours to get to Trinidad from Jamaica is not going to cut it. That it is cheaper to get to Miami than to a Caribbean neighbour is, in my view, problematic. We need to generate power and then share it. It is important that we make it easier for our peoples to connect physically and even virtually. We have now to use the creative technologies via new media and ICTs now available to drive a virtual integration movement so that our people can get used to the idea of working and building the Caribbean together. Share Resources
We should give priority to cross-country projects; Give priority to cross border interests. When we have shared economic interests, it will reduce the kind of spats that the...
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