Monday, February 22, 2010
Regional integration within the Caribbean has taken on many perspectives, namely political, economical and social. The first movement toward integration, the West Indian Federation began in 1958, but subsequently failed in 1960. Although this attempt was arguably premature, it is an apt example of the way in which these said political, economical and social perspectives hinder progress toward regional integration. Emanating from economic strife within the federation, were issues of political power and the allocation of natural resources. This is due to the fact that large contributors expected equally as large levels of power, which caused internal tension and in turn put a strain on the success of the Federation. The economic disparity led to internal political struggle, as the two largest contributors and most developed in the region, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago both vied for more recognition of power. As such, the Federation was immeasurably dependent on their membership and whatever decisions they made for survival. Of the ten members which comprised the federation, 85% of the financial burden was carried in equal shares by Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica. With relevance to their economic worth and the vast disparity in levels of development, the other member states gained the nickname of the “little eight”. Rivalry between the two financial leaders was increased by the decision for the capital of the federation to be located in Trinidad. In 1961, discussions about the grant of Independence to the Federation had begun, which created political choice for Jamaica to either maintain its membership within the Federation or to withdraw and gain individual independence. Choosing to withdraw in favour of their own independence, the Federation failed. In light of this failure to integrate politically due to desires for control and recognition of power, the Caribbean shifted its focus to economic integration.
The direction of the integration movement somewhat changed its course and took on a more economic objective. This was done through the introduction of the Caribbean Free Trade Area (CARIFTA) which was established with the aim of achieving a viable economic community of Caribbean territories. However, this quickly evolved into the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). At the core of its objectives were economic integration, co-ordination of foreign policy, and functional co-operation in areas such as health, education and culture and other areas related to human and social development. Various institutions such as the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the Caribbean Environmental Health Institute (CEHI) were set up to prioritise certain social and economic issues as well as the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) to deepen the integration movement to better respond to the challenges and opportunities presented by globalisation. These latter movements however, have been more successful and have brought about a more ‘integrated’ Caribbean region in some aspects.
It cannot be denied that one of the main aims of integration is development in various aspects of the lives of Caribbean people. These movements have allowed “free” movement of natural and human resources across borders of member countries. That is, no legal documentation was needed for members of one country to enter the borders of another. This resulted in mass migration into the two major provinces, Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica as scores of people from the less developed nations emigrated with the hope of improving their standard of living. This migration, places a strain on the resources of the countries to which these persons migrate.
However, all of these difficulties cannot deny the various social advancements that have been effected as a result of Caribbean integration. Institutions such as the University of the West Indies (UWI), Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) as well as the West Indies Cricket board (WICB) foster development in terms of education and sport. The former two have been successfully maintained, improved and expanded over time as UWI now boasts three campuses. This shows regional co-operation and the common view that education is essential to development. The success of West Indies Cricket Board shows the importance of sport in development. For example through cricket, track and field and football the Caribbean has gained international stature. These institutions however, are not without fault. Although we gain regional pride through sports like cricket, national pride has seemed to override regional and insularity in the Caribbean opposes integration.
Therefore, to conclude, it cannot be denied that journey toward regional integration within the Caribbean has been long. Although considerable progress has been made, there are still challenges today which prevent integration within the Caribbean from being optimally effective. However, from this evidence, it may be just to say the major challenge toward the integration movement is not just the wide disparity in levels of development among member states but instead a mixture of the desire for political power and a tendency toward insular pride and economic recognition. Until it is realised that integration requires not insularity on political, economic and social front but a sense of one Caribbean identity, regional development may never fully be achieved.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
In terms of the economical development among member countries of CARICOM economic development has lagged behind as compared to other smaller Caribbean countries especially that of Trinidad and Tobago since they have depended on the exploitation of natural resources as well as preferential arrangements for products such as sugar and bananas. Also many member countries of CARICOM tend to have low levels of productivity, one reason for this has been migration as it has represented a brain drain which has weakened the skills base and capacity of regional economies. Economic development has also suffered since many member countries of CARICOM need to strengthen fiscal positions and reduce the public debt burden. High public debt hurts growth as resources that should be devoted to productive expenditure and social programmes are redirected to debt servicing. Having mentioned these faults of economical development among CARICOM member countries, solutions need to be implemented in order for economic integration to successfully move ahead in these member states. For example, Trinidad and Tobago has moved away from the production of sugar and has started to import it. However to deal with the issue of chronic fiscal imbalances these member states may need to consider debt restructuring or the generation of high primary surpluses. Jamaica is an example of a CARICOM member state that has tried this approach however public debt continues to rise because of high interest costs and low growth. In order to achieve this, member states must first increase levels of productivity if not they may not be able to survive in terms of competing globally. Therefore, it can be seen that member countries of CARICOM still have a lot of work to do to improve their economic development if they are to reap the full benefits of economic integration.
Moreover, in terms of social development, there have been a number of institutions that have been established to help economic integration move ahead. For example in terms of education The University of the West Indies has tremendously assisted with social development among member countries of CARICOM. Social development has occurred because of this since it has produced committed people to the CARICOM regions also it has helped to develop science and technology and it has produced research which has fueled the private sectors. Another example of social development has come through The West Indies Cricket board as it has organized coaching programmes in collaboration with territorial Boards from the individual countries to develop the sport in the various territories. This has helped economic integration to move forward as it helps to achieve the objective which sets out to accomplish close links with member countries. However, these institutions may face challenges in the future as the world is rapidly changing and there are always more options available but these challenges are ones CARICOM member states can work on to overcome. All in all these examples have clearly illustrated the point that social development is striving for member countries of CARICOM therefore it can be said that there are hardly any disparity levels of development for the social aspect of economic integration among member states. Also if these institutions keep up the good work then, in terms of social development, member countries can gain a lot of benefits from economic integration.
Additionally, in terms of political development, CARICOM member countries have implemented trade barriers such as tariffs and quotas. This has reduced the impact of trade liberalization among member states of CARICOM. For example, the impact of trade liberalization has been reduced by the large number of exemptions from the common tariff reduction scheme. This therefore shows that such trade restrictions have hindered regional integration among CARICOM member countries since it does not comply with the objectives of free trade among CARICOM countries.
In conclusion, the economical, social and political development among CARICOM member countries has posed a problem to economic integration due to the wide disparity levels of development. This is so since many of the objectives of economic integration are not being achieved among CARICOM member countries. Hence, the member countries of CARICOM will not reap the benefits of economic integration if they do not address the faults stated in the above factors.
Monday, February 15, 2010
Assignment: Discuss the view that a major challenge to the integration movement in the
The integration movement in the Caribbean possess great opportunities for the
The unequal distribution of resources is very common in the Caribbean, as the
Certain industries lack development in the
Natural disasters affect the
In conclusion, development in the
Saturday, February 13, 2010
Topic: Discuss the view that a major challenge to the integration movement in the Caribbean is the wide disparity in the levels of development among m
The integration movement in the Caribbean has been envisioned in days as far back as the West Indian Federation (the original CARICOM) where diverse Caribbean states joined with the intention of creating a political unit that would become independent from Britain as a single state, much like the successful Canadian Federation. This short-lived attempt at regional integration unfortunately collapsed before any real development could be made. The reincarnation of this motion, however, occurred in 1973, 15 years after the West Indian Federation, in the form of The Caribbean Community, CARICOM, with much of the initial motives intact. However, many challenges hinder the progress of CARICOM, in particular, the different levels of development of its member states, thus thwarting regional integration. Economic factors such as productivity levels, social factors such as education which relate to the employment rates and literacy of citizens, as well as the political, and geopolitical factors with respects to natural resources such as oil and natural gas, are a few of the issues which suppress the success of integration as envisioned by CARICOM.
The ideology of CARICOM is that as an integrated region, the Caribbean would be capable of much greater economic development and global competitiveness than as single entities. This means that all members of CARICOM would be required to contribute and as such would each be entitled to benefits which would aid in both the individual development of the states and the development of the Caribbean as a whole. However, at present the economies of many of the islands are not as successful as others, for example, the contrast between the economies of Haiti and the Bahamas. One reason for the difference in levels of development in several islands is the availability of natural resources in some while others depend solely on tourism. Therefore, this disparity in the level of development between the member states results in the delay of regional integration as citizens of smaller and less developed islands may find it profitable to migrate to larger, more economically developed islands to increase their standards of living. This would, as a consequence, further impede the development of the smaller island state as labour would be exiting the country. The effects of such an action are presently seen in countries such as Africa, whose economic development was greatly impacted because of the slave trade. The productivity level will also be affected by migration as the link between production levels and labour is evident.
Apart from affecting the productivity levels of the various states, the disparity in the level of development amongst the states can also have negative implications on each state’s education level. With free labour mobility within the region, less developed countries face the problem of suffering a brain drain. Free movement of labour so far has been limited to a small group of employment categories, such as mobility of doctors and surgeons within the Caribbean. Though further progress in this area is on the cards, it is a great risk for the smaller counties. Employment rates will plunge greatly in these countries as more job opportunities will become available in the larger or more developed states, leaving them in a worse position than before the integration movement began, since without a sufficient labour force, little development can be made. An obvious sub consequence of this brain drain which would also jeopardise the economic progress of the smaller states is the literacy of the remaining citizens. If the more proficient citizens left these states, then the general rate of literacy throughout the state will decrease, limiting the states’ abilities for development.
It is natural for each individual state to have on their personal agenda, ideas and plans concerning the fulfilment of policies, reforms and other mandates for national sustainable development. However, though both national and regional developments are important, many states are less focused on achieving regional goals. Political and geopolitical issues concerning trade laws and oil diplomacy are problems affecting regional integration. The political issue at hand however is the question of whether trade agreements under the CSME facilitates the advancement of individual and regional trade interests, an issue which is believed to have also contributed to the dissolution of the West Indian Federation. The Bahamas, for example, is a full member of CARICOM but oppose the CSME as they are against the Free Trade Agreement. This is because they fear that with the free trade zone proposed by CARICOM, their economy will be inundated by foreign labourers, causing its employment to swell. The Bahamas has therefore been accused of defrauding their Caribbean neighbours in order to protect its own interests. It is because of this gap in the joint economic initiative by the Bahamas, along with other issues facing individual states, that integration has not yet been successfully achieved.
After assessing all of the different factors that face the regional integration movement proposed by CARICOM, it can be concluded that these challenges, as large as they may be, when overcome, store many benefits for its member countries that would contribute to both the individual development of the states, as well as the development of the Caribbean as a single entity. This integration would in turn create a more globally competitive region, possibly allotting greater power to the Caribbean and a louder, greater say in world issues.
Friday, February 12, 2010
Discuss the view that a major challenge to the integration movement in the
Achieving integration in the
The skilled labour in each CARICOM member differs. Some countries invest heavily in the education sector hence allowing citizens of the country to emerge with professional qualifications therefore equipping these individuals to contribute towards increasing the economic stability of their economy. An example is
Secondly, there is the crime rate in countries which affect progress in an economy. High levels of crime in a society tend to cause the entrepreneurs in the society to migrate because their safety can be compromised. This affects the development in such a way that businesses terminate and results in unemployment of individuals and also again a brain drain. Due to high crime rates, the tourism industry is also affected whereby fewer tourists choose to vacation in that country. Countries that depend heavily on tourism and sustain high levels of crime would be severely affected with a decline in the development of their economy. This can be seen happening to
Thirdly there are the levels of production of CARICOM countries that can account for the disparity in the development in the region. Countries that are able to produce a surplus so as to provide for exportation which can raise the GDP and hence contribute to the development will have stronger economies that those CARICOM members which engage in more importation of goods. Also countries that have high production cost will find it difficult to sell in the international market therefore not being able to reach that level of productivity as other CARICOM countries. Thus it prevents integration because some countries are not on the same level of efficiency and stability as others. An example is
The disparity in the levels of development in the CARICOM member states does affect the integration process of the
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Topic: Discuss the view that a major challenge to the integration movement in the Caribbean is the wide disparity in levels of development among member countries of CARICOM.
Development can be defined as the process of improving the quality of life. It implies sustainability, self-sufficiency and independence. One can consider that levels of development affects how far integration has been achieved in the Caribbean Region, that is, amongst CARICOM members. There have been many attempts at integration in the Caribbean since the pre-independence era with the West Indian Federation of 1958 which fell apart in 1962. Nevertheless, in the post-independence era, the Caribbean has experienced success in integration at a regional level since the initiation of the Caribbean Free Trade Area (CARIFTA) back in 1968. Regional integration can be described as a process which countries enter into an agreement in order to enhance cooperation in the region. It has been argued that the countries of the Caribbean are at different levels of development even with the evident integration movement among these islands. This can be seen in the gaps displayed through the politics, economics and social policies in terms of regional institutions.
In the initial stages, the focus was on political union amongst member countries. Subsequent to the British leaving, the Caribbean region tried to find a way to remain sustainable. Their first attempt was the West Indian Federation. Politics of the embryonic Federation were racked by struggles between them and the provincial government as well as between the two largest and smaller provinces. Trinidad had already discovered its natural resources - oil and gas. As a result, they had more money and it was felt that larger countries should give the most. In totality, Trinidad and Jamaica had been contributing up to 85% of federal revenues in approximately equal shares. Conversely, in Jamaica, there was and still is little social mobility – urban and rural conflicts. Jamaica thus, began looking at their internal circumstances and decided that it was best that they left. In light of their perspectives, various member countries began reviewing their own internal circumstances. It was recognized that if complete movement of the Federation was allowed, smaller countries feared mass migration to other countries like Trinidad and Jamaica. Issues such as who would be the leader and how the shares were to be distributed rose. That created a political fuse between the influential leaders and eventually the two (2) most important provinces did not see the Federation as viable. In due time, the Federation collapsed due to internal political conflict and with the eventual evolvement of CARIFTA, currently called CARICOM, the focus was shifted to the promotion of economic integration.
Integration in the region is needed to boost economic growth of the member states however, as a result of the disparity in development levels in the region, equality in growth and development is hindered. The formation of the Caribbean Common Market (CARICOM) in 1973 led to the free movement of certain factors of production across the region’s borders. This allowed labour, capital and entrepreneurship to move freely within the region. Nevertheless, the more developed countries (MDCs) fear mass migration from inhabitants of the less developed countries who are seeking better education and employment opportunities in order to increase their standard of living. There is also the fear of regional brain drain. In the case of Bahamas, whose economy is sustained by tourism, has a high level of development represented by a 0.856 HDI (human development index) and as a result has not signed on to the CSME which is hindering the development of the Caribbean as an economic bloc. In relation to Haiti, on the other hand, the recent devastation in January 2010 can lead to mass migration of the population via illegal immigration into the MDCs in the region. Nonetheless, for the Cricket World Cup in 2007 in the Caribbean, political leaders made the decision to allow hassle-free movement amongst CARICOM states which in turn, led to the promotion of the development of sports tourism in the region as well as the injection of foreign revenue in the Caribbean economy. Furthermore, regional institutions have also sought to deepen economic ties.
Several regional institutions have been established in the Caribbean over the years. For instance, in education, the University of the West Indies which has been in existence since 1948 has contributed to the educational development of the region’s population so as to increase the skills, innovation and entrepreneurship of the region. However, in order to fulfil the needs of the changing technological age, the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) in Trinidad and in Jamaica, the University of Technology (UTEC) has been founded. In this way, the separate governments are able to have direct political control and satisfy the needs of the individual countries in order to achieve growth but hinder regional growth in the Caribbean. In the sports arena, the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) has unified several islands such as Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, and the Leeward Islands and Trinidad and Tobago under the umbrella of cricket. Despite the gaps in development, the Caribbean has produced a number of brilliant players such as Sir Gary Sobers (Barbados), Sir Vivian Richards (Antigua) and Brian Lara (Trinidad and Tobago). The WICB has focused on advancing the sport in various territories so as to bridge the gap among the islands in the sport of cricket. Also, investment in the tourism sector within the Caribbean is also a major revenue-earner for the region, hence, the creation of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) in 1989 which focuses on the development of sustainable tourism for the economic and social benefit of the West Indies. Although the territories of the Bahamas, Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda and Jamaica has a well-developed tourism sector, the CTO must further assist the rest of the Caribbean to properly and engagingly establish their tourism sector which will lead to increasing tourist arrivals and as a result, increasing foreign revenue. In this way, foreign revenue earned by the tourism sector can be ploughed back into the economy to lead to further growth and development in the Caribbean.
In agreement with Readings In Caribbean Studies, ‘At a time when the rest of the world is realising the importance of economic integration for purposes of development, it may be necessary for Caribbean populations to become more aware of the challenges of the world’s financial markets to their own development.’ Hence, it is crucial that it is recognized that regional integration is critically central to our evolution and future development. Thus, based on evidence provided on political, economic and social factors, it can be deduced that the disparity in levels of development among member countries in CARICOM have contributed to major challenges in the integration movement especially with the further hindrance created by the delayed signing of the CSME. Perhaps the real question is how feasible were the reasons for withdrawal or disagreement based on developmental status of individual member countries.
By Khadine and Sue-Ann
Discuss the view that a major challenge to the integration movement in the Caribbean is a wide disparity of development among member countries of CARICOM.
Regional integration is one of the main objectives of CARICOM. There are many challenges that CARICOM faces in meeting sustainable and harmonized integration in the Caribbean. CARICOM member states are at different levels of development and so this disparity can prove to hinder integration. Economic, social and political factors affecting development and the extent to which they hinder integration in CARICOM Caribbean will be discussed.
Economic factors are some main indicators of economic development. Some of the poorer member states such as Haiti, Montserrat, and Grenada, are less developed than other member states such as Trinidad and Tobago, Bahamas, and Barbados. The poorer countries are less productive and there is higher exploitation of resources. These economies lack diversity, focusing on one sector e.g. agriculture. Therefore, these economies suffer unsustainable growth and development. Consequently, the poorer countries depend on the more developed ones for aid and would benefit more from “free trade” since they are not able to sustain growth and development in their economies as the developed countries. Challenges emerge here, because the more developed countries would not benefit as much because there would be free movement of their skilled labour, capital and would like to receive higher portions of the profits based on their investments.
Social factors that pose problems for integration, as well, can be seen in education and employment. In the richer countries, the literacy and life expectancy rates are higher and the poverty rates are lower. The educational opportunities are better and offer more chances to further education. For example, in Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and Jamaica there is access to the University of the West Indies. This attracts min these more migrants to the richer countries for these opportunities. Similarly, workers would also leave for better jobs and wages, in these more diversified countries. Once there is free movement of people, as the CARICOM movement would like to implement, the richer countries fear that it would be easy for skilled human resource to move out of their country while the poorer ones fear that labour would move for better opportunities. This can cause brain drain in some countries and could deter some CARICOM members and hinder integration.
Also, politically, the policies of the government of the developed countries protect their goods and services to trade with countries where they can increase profitability. They might have higher tariffs and quotas because they are able to trade independently within the region and even internationally to gain more for their country for example, Bahamas and Barbados. The poorer countries would be more dependent and the richer ones would expect higher share of profits which will threaten integration.In conclusion, the political, social and economic development of developed CARICOM countries compared to the less developed countries has evidently caused problems with implementation of “free trade” of labour, capital, and goods and services. Hence, the disparity in levels of development of CARICOM countries can be said to be a major challenge in the integration of the member states of CARI COM.