The Caribbean, NAFTA and regional development
This thesis examines the record of development and the prospects for national ascent in the anglophone Caribbean. It argues that a transformative dialectic is operating through the restructuring of political-economic relations in the Americas. NAFTA and its expansion open up possibilities for business linkages, joint venture arrangements, and investment and trade creation opportunities for participating countries. This is a structural development opportunity that Caribbean state managers can least ignore. Indeed, a record of missed or squandered opportunities extends backwards into the region's colonial past. Since the independence period, developmentalist projects have been stultified by populist-statism and the circulationism of merchant capital in the individual countries. In spite of this, the national option appeared a secure one. Economic viability rested on the sale of one or two cash crop exports; the securing of non-reciprocal trading arrangements in the international arena; the promotion of the individual countries as cheap labour platforms for foreign manufacturing; a dependence on incomes from tourism and offshore services; and easy access to international loan capital. Today, the shifting competitive dynamics of the international system have yery far reaching implications for the nature of the Caribbean political economy. Economies of scope and scale are increasingly being favoured. The region has been caught napping because capital accumulation remains rooted in distribution infrastructures and not production ones. Indeed, the hegemony of circulation over production in the Caribbean points to the special circumstances that attended the new political class at the time of independence in the 1960s. The stability goal took paramount importance. State managers and the old commercial oligarchy became united by a lowest commondenominator interest, i.e. to reap and extend the benefits of the status quo. The nature of this postcolonial arrangement meant that state managers would fail to deepen the process of capital accumulation and industrialise. This thesis suggests that in light of the present balance of global socio-political forces, and the region's economic malaise, the Caribbean will be on better ground to pursue economic recovery through a deeper form of regionalism. It argues that export-orientated development is a social transformation venture that goes beyond new fiscal measures and market reforms. Hence the need to engender the rise of a new economic class of industrial entrepreneurs. Accordingly, this thesis concludes that a regionalised developmental state in the Caribbean will be vital for altering the region's status in the international system and the hemisphere, and for pursuing a 'nurture industrial capitalism' project.