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Integration Efforts in the Caribbean

Integration Efforts in the Caribbean
Sir Arthur Lewis in 1965 wrote ‘these islands did not start on the federal road in a fit of idleness. They start because it was clear that a federation is the only possible solution to their problem.” To understand what Sir Arthur Lewis meant regional integration must be defined. According to Carbough (2004), regional integration is a process of eliminating restrictions on international trade, payments and factors of mobility. Full regional integration is the economic, social, legal, political, business and environmental factors into one common regional space. There are six levels of integration which are the trade association, free trade area, customs union, common market, economic and political union. Over the past decade regional integration movements have been undergoing tremendous pressure as they attempt to sustain viability. Hippolyte- Manigot (1979) stated “Since the mid 1970s, so serious have some of these difficulties been that practitioners and analyst of regional integration have indicated their doubts about the viability of regional integration.”
The first effort for integration took place in 1958. This was known as the West Indies Federation. The federation faced several problems but what really led to the demise of the federation was fell apart in January 1962 was the withdrawal of Jamaica. This withdrawal was to lead to a movement within Jamaican for national independence from Britain. The withdrawal of Jamaica then led to the famous quote by the then premier of T n T Dr. Eric Williams. He stated “one from ten leaves nought” this statement signified and justified his decision to withdraw T n T from the federal arrangements shortly after. The second effort was known as the Caribbean Free Trade Association (CARIFTA). This was a freed trade arrangement to ensure that the benefits of free trade were equitably distributed and promote industrial development. This effort was established in 1965 and lasted until 1973 when it was replaced by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). CARICOM rallied from 1973 until 1989. This replacement was done by the Signing of the Treaty of Chaguaramas. CARICOM was a stronger form of integration with three ‘pillars’ of economic integration, functional cooperation and foreign policy coordination. However the CARICOM Custom Union was never completed and in 1980s intraregional trade languished.
The CARICOM HOG in 1989 stated their intention to create a Single Market and Economy (CSME).This initiative came into place with the signing of the revised treaty of Chaguaramas. New organs of governance were set up, security was added as the fourth pillar of integration and the CCJ was set up. CARICOM single market was inaugurated in 2006 and single economy is schedule for completion in 2015.
The CARICOM single market and economy (CSME0 aims to create a single economic space among the 15 member states of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).It is seen as an instrument in responding to the challenges of economic globalization. When analyzing the success and current status of CSME, the single market component has made the greatest progress in freeing the movement of goods, some services and skilled persons. Most of the legal restrictions to the free movement of skilled persons have been removed but a lot remains to be done for the authorization and the transfer of social security benefits to facilitate movements. There is a very large shortfall in giving effect to the free movement of capital and the right to establishment. In regards to the establishment of the single economy little progress has been made. Nothing has been done with regards to the harmonization of laws and in terms of common external policy the required actions are still outstanding. The achievement of a common current and common exchange rate has been put on hold. The then Prime Minister of Barbados Owen Arthur states that “CARICOM has never had an agreed programme for the implementation of the single economy (cited by Richards 2004).
To sum up the analysis of CSME it is safe to say that due to the time it has taken from CSME to take flight it is recognized that CSME main problem is and implementation deficit. Brewster (2003) has argued that the implementation problem with CSME is due to the mode chosen to effect integration, which is that of discretionary intergovernmental cooperation. With that said many critics often raise the argument that if the EU was able to achieve integration why the Caribbean can’t do it. The Caribbean is made up of far less countries than the EU. Yet the EU was able to achieve an EU parliament, EU commission, one common currency and central bank along with many other things. Given that the EU is made up of large countries which have different languages and cultures and have historically been divided by war. Despite that they have found it necessary to pool sovereignty in certain areas to effect integration. So the only thing holding back the Caribbean is the failure of political will to rise above the involvement with insular sovereignty. Therefore questions remain about the future of CSME and what will be the way forward in achieving full integration. Suggestions can only be made of what can be done to help the progress of CSME the rest will be up the HOG to implement such strategies. The questions of the CARICOM secretary general must be settled by offering the position to someone with a vision and who commands the respect of both HOG and the wider government. The notion of insularity and nationalism must be diminished. Dr. George Lamming in an article in the nation newspaper on November 17, 2013 said “if there is any hope for Caribbean integration insularity and nationalism must go”. He also expressed concern about ‘increasing insular nationalism’ throughout the region arguing that this could not be reconciled with the movement toward integration. Greater focus must be placed on the political aspect of Caribbean integration. Prime Minister Owen Arthur stated that “the single market and economy in the Caribbean cannot truly become a reality unless we create the political power structures to make it a reality”. (Arthur 2000: p.629)
National sovereignty and regional autonomy must be addressed and overcome. This can be achieved with a number of small steps which are based on the idea that pooling sovereignty at the regional level does not diminish domestic sovereignty, but rather increases the relative weight of the Caribbean and a unified group. Pooling together sovereignty is the only way necessary for CSME to move forward. Financing needs to be mobilized for investment in regional public goods. What is currently available is inadequate, or poorly allocated to support regional projects. Consider the European Notion of an Acquis Communautaire, which is the idea that once committed the accumulation of treaties and agreements within the EU, cannot be revisited or undone. Something similar should be implemented in the Caribbean, to overcome backsliding, short term politics and the implications of changes of government. There is a strong need for a common currency, a Caribbean parliament, a common nationality and one Caribbean central bank.
“……a common nationality, a common currency and a common representation abroad would enable these islands to speak with one single voice.” Sir Arthur Lewis (1965).
Regional integration is a very good development path. However there are challenges that face the region and the dark clouds that are potentially amazing the horizon. Yet at the same time the future is not irredeemably bleak. But time is of the essence. The next step on the Caribbean integration journey is a crossroads.
What HOG need to do is come together to discuss and develop strategies to achieve full integration. It is only with such discussion and the forging of a degree of regional unity on the broad way forward, that the Caribbean will exit the crossroads in the right direction.
References CARICOM, Our Caribbean Community: An Introduction by the CARICOM Secretariat Ian Randle Publishers, 2005.
Carbaugh, R.J. 2004. International Economics, 9th edition. Australia. Thomson South‐ Western.
Bretschger, L. and Steger, T.M. 2004. The dynamics of Economic Integration: Theory and
Policy, Zurich. Institute of Economic Research.

References: CARICOM, Our Caribbean Community: An Introduction by the CARICOM Secretariat Ian Randle Publishers, 2005. THE CARIBBEAN COMMUNITY AND CARIBBEAN COMMON MARKET (CARICOM) - INSTITUTIONAL CHALLENGES AND PROSPECTS THE CARICOM SINGLE MARKET AND ECONOMY by Valerie Alleyne-Odle Foreign and Community Relations - CARICOM Secretariat Carbaugh, R.J.  2004.  International Economics, 9th edition.  Australia.  Thomson South‐ Western. Bretschger, L. and Steger, T.M. 2004. The dynamics of Economic Integration: Theory and  Policy, Zurich. Institute of Economic Research.

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