The Caribbean Community: A Promise yet Unfulfilled

The Caribbean Community: A Promise yet Unfulfilled

Joan Marques (Woodbury University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6224-7.ch007


This chapter focuses on the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM), a cluster of 15 countries and islands in the Caribbean region that invest ongoing efforts to establish growth and increased well-being. CARICOM is facing its share of challenges, of which two important ones include a) economic relations and b) education. With their common history as former European colonies, the Caribbean nations have traditionally focused on the USA, Canada, and Europe as their main partners. Now that the global tide is turning, it becomes increasingly important for them to change course. China, as the major global player of our times, is therefore a potential partner that Caribbean nations increasingly embrace. Even so, the challenges of their small scale and their lack of trade complementarity remain dark clouds on the Caribbean horizon. In addition, the education system in many of the member nations needs urgent and radical reinvention. This chapter shines some light on these issues.
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The Caribbean Community

CARICOM did not emerge in a sudden bloom. It was a growth process that began in the late 1950s when the British West Indies Federation was established. As the Federation ended in 1962, local political leaders understood the need to strengthen cooperation within the region, particularly given the emerging tendency of gaining independence from former colonizers. It was the government of Trinidad and Tobago that first proposed the idea of a Caribbean Community, not only consisting of Caribbean islands, but also of the three “Guianas” as well as the islands of the Caribbean Sea. Dialogues started in 1963, and in 1965, the leaders agreed upon the Caribbean Free Trade Association (CARIFTA) which was formalized in 1968. Member nations at the time included Antigua, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, and Guyana, soon to be joined by Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts/Nevis/Anguilla, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Jamaica, and Montserrat. Belize joined in 1971. A year later, the regional leaders transformed CARIFTA into a Common Market, thus establishing the Caribbean Community with the Common Market at its core.

CARICOM was established by the Treaty of Chaguaramas on August 1, 1973, first signed by four members, and soon thereafter joined by eight more. In 1983, the Bahamas joined the CARICOM, and in 1995 Suriname became the 14th member and the first Dutch-speaking State to join. Finally, in 2002, Haiti became the 15th member and the first French-speaking Caribbean State to become a full Member of CARICOM (History of the Caribbean Community, 2011).

With its 15 member states, one would expect the Caribbean Community to already play a significant role in the business landscape of South-America and among the various Trade Unions in the two Americas. However, to date this has only moderately been the case. CARICOM’s current full-member states include: Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago. Most of the CARICOM members are islands. The only two land-based nations in the community are Guyana and Suriname, both located on the northeast coast of South America. Table 1 below provides a preliminary overview of the CARICOM member states.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Trading Blocs: Different levels of trade agreements between clusters of nations.

Economic Relations: Internal and external relations that influence economic stability and growth.

Trade Agreement: Bilateral or multilateral agreements between member states and other nations.

Productivity: A nation’s performance, aimed at competing in a regional and global market.

Export and Import: A nation’s in- and outflow of products, goods and services.

Competitiveness: The degree to which a nation can compete with other inside or outside its common market.

CARICOM: The collective name of the Caribbean Community’s Common Market.

Common Market: A collective market of a cluster of countries and islands.

Macroeconomic Challenges: Challenges that affect economic performance at an overarching level.

Brain Drain: The loss of intellectual capacity in a nation, mostly triggered by unattractive economic perspectives.

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