Above: Fort de France, Martinique (CJ Photo)
By the Caribbean Journal staff
Given their proximity to the Eastern Caribbean and particularly St Lucia, the French departments of Martinique and Guadeloupe should be integrated with the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States as much as possible, according to the recommendations of a report recently released by the government of St Lucia.
The recommendation was made in a wide-ranging foreign policy review commissioned by the government last year and released this week.
“St Lucia, located as it is in immediate proximity to the French department of Martinique (as is Dominica, placed between Martinique and Guadeloupe), should, within the framework of the OECS, make a decisive effort to seek to utilize resources so committed to regional economic integration to facilitate the construction of the proposed Economic Union,” the report said.
“St Lucia should seek to persuade the government of France, and therefore the European Union, to perceive our effort of regional economic integration precisely as intended to facilitate, over time, the maximum achievement of economies of scale that is required for this sub-region to participate in the wider Caribbean region and in the evolving global economy,” the report said.
“This proposal is therefore not conceived as a short-term effort,” it said.
The idea would be to eventually create an economic integration strategy that could produce “maximum benefits from medium-term integration of energy requirements and production, transportation agreements, modernized food production systems for export and multi-company/multi-country economic undertakings.”
This plan would be to “permit the inclusion of the departments of Martinique and Guadeloupe within it, to the maximum degree constitutionally and practically possible.”
The move would also create a “greater practical diplomatic access,” the report said, to a “European Union increasingly preoccupied with its own rationalization of the enlargement process in a period of economic constraint.”
It’s not clear what impact such a move would have on the OECS’ wider relationship with the EU.
The sub-regional grouping has been praised of late for the pace of its integration efforts, compared with those of the larger CARICOM movement. The report also recommended that St Lucia strengthen its relations with French Guiana, another French department.
The report was prepared by Dr Tennyson Joseph, Head of the Political Science Department at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus; Dr Mark Kirton, Senior Lecturer in Latin American Studies at the Institute of International Relations at the University of the West Indies, Saint Augustine Campus; Dr Julian R. Hunte, former Minister for External Affairs, President of the United Nations General Assembly and Permanent Representative of Saint Lucia to the United Nations and Malcolm Charles, a business consultant and former President of the Saint Lucia Employers’ Federation.