Regional Integration: A Free Trade Buffer in the Caribbean
AbstractThe growth of world trade, the activity of transnational companies, the global world financial system, global production and the regional trading blocs such as the European Community and NAFTA, all point toward an emerging global world order in which states must adjust. For decades the constraints of small size, a common history and certain cultural affinities have combined with external pressures to push Caribbean countries towards even closer regional integration (Mc Kinney and Gardner 2008). The recent Economic Partnership Agreement premised on trade liberalization has plunged Caribbean countries into a global economic system where regional integration is now a necessity for survival as advocated by the EU (Assembly of European Regions 2001). The goals for CARlCOM integration include accelerated and sustained economic development through increased productivity, higher levels of international competitiveness and expansion of economic relations with third countries, and more efficient operations of health, education and other social services. However, present trends indicate that more sustained efforts to deepen the existing integration arrangements are integral to making CARICOM a truly effective instrument of global integration, competitiveness and economic growth for its member states. CARICOM is constrained in terms of its capacity to ensure Caribbean development because of its limitations in terms of political unity and cooperation among the leaders of the region. However, CARICOM is the engine of growth which the Caribbean countries must utilize in order to ensure sustained growth and development in the region and keep up with world trends.