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8. The Framework for Regional Specificity

The Lomé conventions have accommodated regional specificity by creating a regional forum, allocating resources specifically for regional projects and creating specific trade and financial instruments that are tailored to the needs of a particular region. It has been suggested, however, that given the new importance attached to governance and human rights, the ACP is not the best forum to pursue cooperation with the EU since the Caribbean does not attach the same priority to these issues. The basis for cooperation between the Caribbean and the other ACP countries has been the similar nature of their economic concerns as ex-colonies in relation to their former metropoles. The linchpin of the Caribbean Lomé relationship still lies in sugar and bananas. The future of these commodity arrangements depends on how the ACP solidarity proceeds as a group. In many ways these arrangements engender irreconcilable conflict with regional neighbors. While geo-politics is important in determining these regional frameworks for cooperation, geo-economics at this time may impede a coherent grouping.

In some quarters it is believed that the geopolitical status of the Caribbean can only be enhanced if a larger population is included. This is one reason for suggesting the ACS as the forum. The ACS, however, is governed at this moment by no coherence and is rather artificial.

At the same time it must be recognized that the Caribbean must continue to broaden its relations with the countries of the Caribbean Basin, eventually developing an integration mode with these countries. A convergence strategy has to be developed. It must take into account that the present basis for an EU/ACS is weak given the low level of commitment to the ACS and the divisions that still separate these countries. It would thus appear prudent to proceed in phases, with the next Convention using the existing framework. As transitional arrangements develop, commodity problems are resolved and wider and deeper regional integration develops within the Caribbean Basin, a new geographical framework will emerge. Within this longer-term strategy, regional programming and projects should seek to strengthen the basis of integration and cooperation in the wider Caribbean Basin. An EU/ Caribbean Dialogue starting with CARIFORUM plus Cuba could even begin at the start of the 21st century with a view to guiding this process. This dialogue should serve to develop an integration project that embraces the Cariforum countries plus Cuba either through the widening of CARICOM or through the ACS. At a later stage, the EU/CARIBBEAN dialogue could be broadened to an EU/ACS Forum depending on the extent to which the ACS deepens its integration and cooperation experience.

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9. DOM/OCT/EU Involvement in Regional Cooperation

In the Caribbean, the need to promote some type of stability and development in the context of widening development gaps between EC DOMs and OCTs, on the one hand, and independent countries, on the other, was a critical geopolitical factor in the context of the Cold War. Common regional security interests in terms of drug interdiction, immigration and environment still exist and suggest that in any future relationship these issues have to be tackled in a wider regional framework. Recognition of this has already led to the inclusion of the DOMs and OCTs in the ACS and Cariforum.

In this new regional approach, Caribbean Basin links with the European OCTs and DOMs should be strengthened in a more formal way. In accordance with Articles 156 and 157 and Annex XXXII of Lomé IV, Caribbean ACP States have agreed to wider cooperation with the European overseas countries and territories (Netherlands Antilles, Aruba, Anguilla, BVI, Montserrat, Cayman Islands, Turks and Caicos, Guadeloupe, Martinique and French Guyana) and other non-ACP developing countries in the region. Since Lomé III, provision has been made to strengthen cooperation between European OCTs and DOMs, on the one hand, and Caribbean ACP States, on the other. The implementation of this provision has not been very successful so far, except possibly for a few events in the cultural field and some noteworthy initiatives for trade promotion by the OECS states.

A major incentive for FTA could be EU interest in promoting cooperation and integration with its European Departments and Territories in the region. Ideally a FTA would be the best alternative for the DOMs and TOMs in terms of their integration into the wider Caribbean. The current argument for a FTA with the DOMs and OCTs outside of a FTA with the EC essentially is advanced on the grounds of existing or potential autonomy in the DOMs and OCTs and its customs feasibility given the small size of these territories. Practically, however, a major revision of the constitutional status and practice of these territories, especially the DOMs will be required, perhaps along the lines of that of Montserrat, which is a member of CARICOM. This is hardly likely especially for the DOMs, given the history of decentralization between the DOMs and Metropolitan France. Such statutory limits to regional integration by the DOMs have already been clearly recognized.

Another advantage of this solution is that it would help overcome the present objection in the DOMs to non-reciprocity. This DOM rejection of non-reciprocity has in practice, along with the use of local duties (octroi de mer), impeded the faster growth of trade between CARICOM and the DOMs. A FTA could therefore release additional trading on a more mutually rewarding basis.

© Friedrich Ebert Stiftung | technical support | net edition fes-library | Januar 2002

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