AMID current events relating to the 40th anniversary of our Caribbean Community and Common Market (Caricom), there are some influential and eloquent voices articulating the need for changing the model launched at Chaguaramas in July 1973 to bring into force a more relevant and dynamic regional economic integration movement.
Among such advocates are the Prime Minister of St Lucia, Dr Kenny Anthony; former Jamaica prime minister PJ Patterson; Trinidad and Tobago’s Foreign Minister and former Central Bank governor Winston Dookeran; the well-known regional economist and social commentator Dr Norman Girvan and Caribbean icon Sir Shridath Ramphal.
Their various perspectives are located in a package of informed personal contributions, or as referenced by others, in the current Caribbean Journal of International Relations and Diplomacy — a joint quarterly publication of the UWI Institute of International Relations and the Trinidad and Tobago Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In his analysis titled “A New Frontier for Caribbean Convergence”, Dookeran contends that the Caricom institutional framework “has reached its limits”; and that the issue is not whether regional integration “has failed or is disappearing”, but rather there is an evident need for renewal to respond to current challenges for survival in an increasingly economics-driven globalised environment.
He referred to an unflattering observation by Ramphal that the leadership in the region has “put the gears of the Caricom Single Market in neutral and the gears of its Single Economy into reverse..”
In anchoring his analysis for changing the Caricom model with a focus on strategies for achieving “Caribbean Sea convergence”, Dookeran referred to an earlier analysis by Girvan that what regional integration has so far been accomplished “has not impacted significantly on regional economic development…” He alluded to concerns recently raised by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) for a new public-private sector partnership approach across the region.
He is also urging his counterparts to pay careful attention to the forthcoming report of the Caribbean Growth Forum (CGF) that involves the World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, Caribbean Development Bank and the University of the West Indies.
In his contribution, based on the text of an address delivered earlier in the year at the Rotary Club of Georgetown in “Commemoration of Rotary World Understanding Month”, Patterson, who has been quite eloquent in championing the cause of Caricom, was anxious to sound the alarm bell in declaring:
“Without the political and the concerted action by regional stakeholders—governments, opposition parties; the business sector, labour, non-government organisations, the media—Caricom is in danger. It needs concerted action, simultaneously on all fronts….”
Warning that, “If at the level of governance we even appear to be dysfunctional, the vineyard will wither”, Patterson urged active support for the proposal made at the July 2012 Caricom Summit in July by Prime Minister Anthony for urgent action by all member states in formulating a “common foreign economic policy to take into account the profound changes on the global landscape…”
Stressing the need for transformation, Patterson reminded that the Revised Caricom Treaty “is essentially trade-based” and only identifies best endeavours in other areas…. “The time has come for its revision as we provide the blueprint for a brighter Community future…”
Another quite informative contribution in the current edition of the quarterly publication of the Caribbean Journal is the text of a presentation on “Multilateral Diplomacy for Small States: The Art of Letting Others Have Your Way”, by Guyana’s long-serving ambassador to the United Nations, Rudy Insanally, at the launch of the recently published book with the same title.
Matthew Louis Bishop, one of the managing editors of the publication, said it has been “extremely well received and (we) are optimistic about what the future hold in terms of the platform it offers to contribute to regional and global debates on international relations…”