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Our National Independence and evolving Regionalism

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The Caribbean region and its constituents cannot ignore the territorial implications of the excesses of globalization. This reality brings fundamental questions of national sovereignty and deterritorialization to the fore for discussion and debate on our evolving regionalism. In fact, any discussion of national independence will find its greatest currency when discussed alongside our efforts to foster interdependent connections within a sub-regional and regional framework.{{more}}

The stated objectives of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States Draft of the New Treaty include the intention that the Economic Union will bring closer economic relations among Protocol Member States to facilitate: (a) the creation of a single financial and economic space comprising Protocol Member States; (b) harmonious development of economic activities through inter-sectoral linkages within and between Protocol Member States; (c) continuous economic growth and expansion through the optimal utilization of domestic and Economic-Union-wide resources; (d) fair distribution of benefits throughout the Protocol Member States; (e) accelerated improvement in the standard of living and reduction of poverty; (f) increased levels of economic and social stability; (g) economic growth, development and international competitiveness by the convergence and co-ordination of the economic policies of Protocol Member States.

The question is to be asked: What particular results are we to anticipate by this combination of factors of production, culture and politics if we integrate our youthful independent democracies within our post-colonial circumstances? The answer I suggest optimistically will be exciting!

The new fervor among those enthused by the need to quicken regional integration arises from a mixture of economic, political, social and cultural overtures, and goes far beyond purely free trade. Rather, the political ambition of establishing a regional coherence and regional identity seems to be of primary importance. Herein resides the need for not only a regionalization of states, but of our peoples. This quest towards regionalism must at all times be seen as linked to globalization and should not be assessed merely from the point of view of attempts to create and build a single region in isolation. Rather, it should be defined as a world order concept, since any particular process of regionalization in any part of the world has systemic repercussions on other regions, thus shaping the way in which the new world order is being organized. When the new global power structure finds its definition, what will be the geometrics of our region?

The rapid expansion of international trade and investment in recent decades has certainly been facilitated by technological progress, but it would hardly have occurred in the absence of very deliberate policies implemented by member states of the international community. At the national level, sovereign state decisions to foster the market economy by opening to foreign trade and investment and liberalizing financial markets are, more than anything else, key to explaining present economic integration. At the international level, it has been chiefly by virtue of political decisions made by sovereign states that many agreements leading to unprecedented integration have been made. It is in this regard that the action on the 14th August, 2008, where the Prime Ministers of Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines signed a joint declaration on collaboration towards the achievement of a single economy and appropriate political integration among the mentioned states must be considered to be a visionary exercise in the process of deepening regional integration.

The dynamism of our integration processes is becoming even further entrenched, since the formulation of the listed four islands (Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) forms an appropriate sub-set of the sub-regional grouping in the form of the OECS, and the regional alliance pursuant to the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.

The end result must be focused on the recognition of the importance of social capital for the development of our nation and region. Professor Francis Fukuyama in his work “Social Capital and Development: The Coming Agenda” was instructive in stating that: “Social capital is what permits individuals to band together to defend their interest and organize to support collective needs. If liberal democracy will be the context in which most developing countries try to enact economic policy and stimulate growth, then social capital is critical to the strength of that political framework.”

I take this opportunity to reiterate a long standing position that I have adopted, that as we reposition ourselves to ensure our survival in today’s world, as individuals and as a region, central to the process must be an unwavering ambition to empower our human resource base. A people focused approach to independence, linking the vision derived from the attainment of political sovereignty, to the quest to seek innovative ways and means to address the many challenges which we will face as a people is a recommended way forward.

Saboto Caesar is a Lawyer and Unity Labour Party Senator.