The Role the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Plays within the Caribbean Common Market and Community (CARICOM) and in the Caribbean’s Relationship with the World Economy

The Role the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Plays within the Caribbean Common Market and Community (CARICOM) and in the Caribbean’s Relationship with the World Economy

Prepared Exclusively for the Annual Conference of the International Studies Association
Latin American and Caribbean Regionalism in the Global Economic Crisis II New Orleans, LA., February 19, 2010

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Introduction
The roots of the Caribbean Common Market and Community (CARICOM) lie in the West Indies Federation (1958-1962) and the Caribbean Free Trade Area (CARIFTA) founded in 1965. The rationale behind the Federation was that the former British colonies in the Caribbean were too small to be viable economic entities on their own.2 London therefore sought to move them to independence as part of a political union. The capital of this new political union would be Port of Spain in Trinidad. Unfortunately, this experiment in political federation proved short-lived, as the two largest territories, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, jostled with each other to achieve preeminence in the West Indies Federation. In 1961 a plebiscite was held in Jamaica, and a majority of that country’s citizens favored withdrawal. Shortly after the collapse of the West Indies Federation in 1962, initiatives were taken by the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States to explore the possibility of some form of integration of the small islands of the Eastern Caribbean and Barbados.3 These initiatives led to the creation of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank. In 1965, the governments of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, British Guiana, and Trinidad and Tobago signed the Dickenson Bay Agreement to Establish a Caribbean Free Trade Association or CARIFTA.4 This Agreement was amended in 1968 to include other territories in the Caribbean (i.e., Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines in 1968, and British Honduras in 1971). As outlined in Article 2 of the Agreement, the objectives of CARIFTA were to:

  1. promote the expansion and diversification of trade;
  2. ensure that trade took place between the member states in conditions of fair competition;
  3. encourage the progressive development of the member economies; and,
  4. foster the harmonious development of Caribbean trade and its liberalization by the removal of barriers.
Tags: caricom, oecs
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