Caribbean Political Economy

Public Procurement: The Development Dimension and the EPA, Norman Girvan

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Public Procurement links the issues of good governance and of economic development.The current preoccupation with eliminating corruption and securing best value for taxpayers’ money should not be allowed to obscure the equally important role of public procurement in fostering new industries and development of technological capabilities…

Click here for Pioneering Procurement

Click here for Public Procurement: The Development Dimension and The EPA (slide presentation)

Windmills Of The Mind, Mervyn Claxton


I decided to wait until all the comments on my paper Port of Spain Declaration: A Critical Analysis were posted before making a global response. Four comments were received – those by Norman and Yash in this exchange and two others – by Wendy Lee and Margaret Gill – (Wendy’s contribution is posted on the website, Margaret’s is not) in two separate, parallel e-mail exchanges. Notwithstanding the several important points made by Norman and Yash (which I discuss below), it is my opinion that only Wendy’s and Margaret’s contribution grasped the essential issue involved – sustainable development.

Wendy posed the crucially important question “How can we get decision-makers to absorb and act on the information that is so readily available about sustainable development IMPERATIVES, including critical ecological requirements, instead of pursuing the same old false, unjust and unsustainable models?” Margaret identified another key aspect (one that I explored in the paper) – how do we inform and educate the Caricom public on that essential issue.

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EU Public Procurement and the ACP, Joyce vG-Naar

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joyce-naar1Joyce van Genderen-Naar is a lawyer and journalist from Suriname. She is currently based in Brussels. Email

If ACP experts and companies want to compete with the EU and to have access to the EU Market, they have to know more about the rules and procedures.Frequently asked questions are: how can ACP experts and companies have access to the EU market and compete with EU and other foreign experts and companies; how can ACP SMEs participate in EU consortiums; what is the best way to have access to EU tenders; iIs there a lack of confidence in the ability of our own enterprises and in our own capacity; why do not ACP countries involve their own people and experts more and increase their own capacities in stead of complaining that ACP has no capacity and asking the EU for capacity building and EU consultants to do research and studies in ACP countries? Reports that can only be written with the help of the information of ACP locals who are being used as information and response persons, reports that often are not implemented.

This article discusses EU Public Procurement Procedures with regard to the ACP-EC Cooperation. it shows the importance of Public Procurement for the EU and its Member states and indicates the preferences for ACP-tenders and tenderers provided in the EU-ACP Partnership Agreement and the relevant provisions of the European Development Fund. It sets out in detail the Legislative framework of the EU Public Procurement, eligibility criteria, contract award criteria and principles,procedures, rules, transparency,-Transparency Rates of EU Member States; Obstacles for EU Member States and firms; and other factors conditioning ACP access to EU Public Procurement markets.

Governing Our Caribbean Region, Vaughan Lewis

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Cedric Grant Memorial Lecture Delivered in Georgetown, Guyana, January 28, 2008

Caricom’s institutional presence and visibility in dynamic global environments, including,   demonstration of our ability to articulate collectively-determined responses based on the assurance of legal capabilities for ensuring implementation- effectiveness, does not yet have the credibility that is required.,  ,   A rearrangement of the institutional systems that play diverse roles on Caricom’s behalf, in international negotiations, is now necessary – implying an integrated governance system for effectiveness, as well as from the point of view of parsimony of institutional arrangements in a small region…

Click here for ‘Governing Our Caribbean Region’

South Centre Cautions African Countries Over EPAs

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The way EPA has been conceived is likely to bring more losses than gains for Africa…

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Schengen Visa exemptions: first class and second class Caricom citizens? Norman Girvan


I must confess to being conflicted by the news that Schengen visa requirements are soon to be lifted for four Caricom countries.. Like many others who have had to apply for a Schengen visa for even the shortest of visits, I find the procedures onerous, intrusive and demeaning. So I cannot but be happy for those citizens of Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados and St. Kitts and Nevis who will henceforth not be required to endure them if they wish to travel to Schengen zone countries.

One the other hand, I wonder whether the measure is not a further step towards the establishment of of first and second class citizens, and even of first and second class countries, within Caricom…


Also in Stabroek News, June 1, 2009

European Parliament resolution on development impact of EPAs

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The Resolution of 5 February 2009 states that EPAs should incorporate a 5-year revision clause and stronger monitoring and evaluation provisions.

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The CL Financial Debacle: Big Companies Should Not Run Small Countries, Norman Girvan


Why was the CL Financial debacle,  allowed to happen? The answer seems to take us to the heart of governance in small countries, where a single large firm can wield enormous economic and political influence…


New: Afra Raymond’s Blog on the CL Financial/CLICO Debacle

A series of,   twelve excellent articles on the collapse,  of the CL conglomerate, the intervention of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago and the issues raised.

Postscript Govt left empty-handed in CL Financial bail-out: all of CLICO’s assets committed 7/04/09

$315M Rescue: TT Govt digs deeper to bail out CL companies in the Caribbean 21/04/09

Time to take control of CL Financial William Lucie-Smith 20/05/09

A Call For Order Afra Raymond 15 September 2012

Three lessons of the CLICO debacle, Norman Girvan

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  • Caricom governments need to equip themselves in a timely manner with the necessary legal tools and supervisory instruments to effect adequate regulation of financial entities in the public interest,
  • Finalise and adopt the Caricom Financial Services Agreement as a matter of urgency
  • Revisit the commitments on financial services and their regulation made by Caricom, as part of Cariforum, under the Economic Partnership Agreement with the EU.

Full article (includes links to stuff on the CLICO debacle)

Financial Regime Change? By Robert Wade–A Comment


From Norman

In an article titled “Financial Regime Change” published in New Left Review, September-October 2008, Robert Wade has made a number of points,   which have salience for us in the region.,   I quote these below followed by my own comments, and invite others to join in by submitting their own comments in the box below.

Wade: The loss of three of the five giants fundamentally changes the politics of international finance, because these investment banks were immensely powerful actors in the political process—not only in the US but also in the EU. From their London bases, the us investment banks had a shaping influence on the content of EU financial legislation in Brussels. The upside of their disappearance, then, is that it weakens one major obstacle to financial re-regulation.

Insofar as EU financial legislation was the main reference point for the provisions on regulation of financial services in the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), Wade’s point underlines the urgency of revisiting these provisions with a view to determining whether they have not been rendered out of date by the financial crisis (in additition to their possible incompatibility with the Draft Cariccom Financial Services Agreement)

Wade: The downward spiral of credit contraction is being driven by a pervasive collapse of trust in the entire structure of financial intermediation that underpins capitalist economies. With debt levels running high and the economic climate worsening, many enterprises in the real economy must be close to bankruptcy; hence lenders and equity buyers are staying out of the market.

This could explain why the series of rescue packages for the banks in the US, the UK and other leading industrialised countries have failed to arrest the downward spiral in the real economy. The concern now is that the recession will be with us for a some time—i.e. at least into 2010—and could easily turn into a full-blown depression (I would say that 24 straight months of economic contraction would qualify as a depression—Wade makes the point that the Asian economies may not be sufficiently robust to rescue the world economy from the effects of the crisis).

Wade: The policies Beijing has pursued are far from identical to those endorsed by the Washington Consensus; it has followed the precepts of Friedrich List and of American policy-makers of the nineteenth century, during the us‘s catch-up growth, more than those of Adam Smith or latter-day neoliberals. The state has been an integral promoter of development, and has adopted targeted protection measures as part of a wider strategy for nurturing new industries and technologies; it is now investing heavily in information systems to help Chinese firms engineer their way around Western patents.

We need to keep reminding our policy makers (and students) of this. Such policies have become much more constrained by the EPA and by the ” new generation” of FTAs, which are much more than ‘trade agreements’ but bind domestic policies in ways that conform to the (now discredited) Washington Consensus.

Scholars today face the challenge of rethinking some of the basic intellectual models that have legitimized policy over the past three decades.


Developing domestic and regional demand would involve greater efforts towards achieving equality in the distribution of income—and hence a larger role for labour standards, trade unions, the minimum wage and systems of social protection. It would also necessitate strategic management of trade, so as to curb the race-to-the-bottom effects of export-led growth, and foster domestic industry and services that would provide better livelihoods and incomes for the middle and working classes. Controls on cross-border flows of capital, so as to curb speculative surges, would be another key instrument of a demand-led development process, since they would give governments greater autonomy with regard to the exchange rate and in setting interest rates.

” Strategic management of trade”, ” controls on cross-border flows of capital”, and ” fostering of domestic industry and services”, are key policies that are relevant for an integrated Caricom economy and common development strategy. They would be highly suitable for the ‘Single Development Vision”,   I agree with Rickey Singh in his column today that the Vision needs to be returned to to the Caricom Agenda, together with the Caricom Charter on Civil Society and the Health For All report.

Wade: The recent strengthening of regional integration processes, meanwhile, should direct attention away from global standards and arrangements which, because of their maximal scope, are necessarily coarse-grained at best. Regional trade agreements between developing countries have distinct advantages over multilateral trade deals, whose terms often serve to break open economies of the global South while preserving intact protections for industry and agriculture in the North. Regional currencies—such as the Asian Currency Unit being discussed by East Asian states, based on a weighted average of key local currencies—could act as a benchmark independent of the us dollar, reducing vulnerability to market turbulence on Wall Street

This is of critical importance for us. Wade is saying that strengthening of regional integration processes should be a key element of the post-Washington conensus world. In our context, strengthening means not only accelerating completion of the CSME but articulating a strategy towards the Latin America integration movement, notably ALBA and UNASUR.

Wade:,   Global economic regimes need above all to be rethought to allow a diversity of rules and standards, instead of imposing ever more uniformity. Rather than seeking, in Martin Wolf’s terms, to make the whole world attain the degree of economic integration found within the federal structure of the us, such that nation-states ould have no more influence over cross-border flows than us states have over domestic transactions,We might draw inspiration from an analogy with ‘middleware’. Designed to enable different families of software to communicate with each other, middleware offers large organizations an alternative to making one program span their entire structure; it allows more scope for a decentralized choice of programs. If the second leg of the present ‘double movement’ turns out to be a period from which consensus is largely absent, it may also provide space for a wider array of standards and institutions—economic and financial alternatives to the system-wide prescriptions of neoliberalism. This may give the new regime that emerges from the current upheavals greater stability than its predecessor. Whether it provides the basis for a more equitable world, however, will remain an open question—and an urgent challenge—for some time to come.

I have been arguing for some time that we need to replace the universalism of the Washington Consenus with an approach that validates the specificity of national and regional circumstances, of context, of trial and error, and of development strategies. This was the basic philosophical stance of the New World Group.

The Future Of Caricom Trade Relations With The United States And Canada: A Review Of CBI And CARIBCAN & Prospects For Future Trade Agreements , by Carlos Wharton

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This paper examines the potential nature of future trade relations between CARICOM and the United States and Canada, bearing in mind the features of the CBI/CBTPA and CARIBCAN schemes and CARIFORUM commitments to the EU under the EPA. In particular it:

  • Analyses the current contribution of CARICOM-US and CARICOM-Canada trade
  • Provides a historical overview of the structure, role and function of the Caribbean Basin Initiative and CARIBCAN and analyses the extent to which the benefits of CBI and CARIBCAN have been affected or modified by trade liberalisation;
  • Examines the scope and tenor of recent FTAs by the United States and Canada and identifies key negotiating issues that are likely to arise in any future CARICOM-Canada and CARICOM-United States FTA negiotiation
  • Examines and identifies the mechanisms used to incorporate civil society into US and Canada FTA negotiations with the aim of making recommendations which could be adopted in a CARICOM context.


Creating a Caribbean Development State, by Jay R Mandle

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W. Bradford Wiley Professor of Economics, Colgate University

The debate over EPA was reminiscent of the kind of clash of ideas that occurred during the-hey day of the ” New World” group of intellectuals and academics in the 1960s and 1970s. Then, as now, Caribbean integration and regional economic development were seen by these scholars as inseparable. But now in contrast to the past, the process of integration is not,  just an intellectual construct. There is a reality to the CSME and though it is not complete it provides a foundation upon which to build… it might yet be possible to construct a broad Caribbean nationalist coalition…

Full text


EPA Benefits For The Financial Services Sector, Owen Arthur

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Presentation at the 35th Annual General Meeting of the Caribbean Association of Indigenous Banks, Barbados, November 18, 2008

The forging of new strategic alliances between the respective indigenous banks of the Caribbean will constitute an important element of the Single Caribbean Economy which is still worth our while to bring into existence… we have to stop doubting ourselves, and stop underestimating what we are capable of achieving in the Caribbean…


Caricom’s Development Vision and the EPA, Norman Girvan

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‘The Fork in the Road’

Presentation at ILO/CCL Roundtable, Barbados, June 24, 2008

Click here for PowerPoint Presentation

Lessons of the EPA, Norman Girvan

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Keynote Address at CPDC/FITUN Caribbean Regional Forum, UWI Campus, St Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago, June 12, 2008 (Revised)

From before the EPAs were initialled a great deal of concern had been expressed that ACP countries were being the agreements being negotiated fell far short of the satisfying the Cotonou mandate to support sustainable development and regional integration. The view commonly expressed was that ACP countries were being, in effect, coerced by the EC into signing agreements to meet an artificially imposed deadline; and that these agreements that had much more to do with the EC’s global trade agenda than with the interests of ACP countries...

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Legal Issues in the EPA, Norman Girvan

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Presentation at Public Forum held at the Norman Manley Law School, UWI Mona Campus, May 2, 2008.

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The EPA and Caribbean Development, Norman Girvan

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Presentation at Civil Society Forum on the EPA held in Kingston, May 1, 2008

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Renegotiate the EPA; Havelock Brewster, Norman Girvan and Vaughan Lewis

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Memorandum submitted to the CARICOM Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) on 27 February 2008 proposing renegoitation of the EPA (Revised 23/03/08)

Click here for text of the memorandum

Response by the CRNM to ‘Renegotiate the EPA’

The EPA’s Contentious ‘Most Favoured Nation’ Clause Norman Girvan

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Article 19 of the Cariforum-EC EPA commits Cariforum to grant Europe the same treatment it grants to any ‘major trading economy’ in subsequent free trade agreements; defined as a country or group of countries that accounts for more than 1 percent or 1.5 percent respectively of world merchandise exports. It is believed that the ‘Interim’ EPAs signed with several African and Pacific states contain a similar provision.

This concession would,  apply,  to future trade agreements made with,  developing countries,  such as China (8.2 percent of world merchandise exports), Brazil (1.14) and India (1.00),  and with,   the MERCOSUR group (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, 1.53 percent). ,  In a statement to the WTO’s General Council, Brazil has argued that the EPA MFN,  clause is inconsistent with the GATT-WTO provisions for Special and Differential Treatment to developing countries and will inhibit South-South trade.

Posted below are the text of the relevant clause of Cariforum-EC EPA (Article 19),,   the text of,  Brazil’s statement, and a comment by David Jessop, trade writer.

Article 19 of the CARIFORUM-EC EPA

Brazil’s Statement to the WTO of February 4, 2008

Most Favoured Nation concession a danger for the Caribbean – David Jessop Jamaica Gleaner, 14/03/08

The EPA’s Contentious ‘Most Favoured Nation’ Clause

1. The Cariforum-EC EPA seen in a wider context, Mervyn Claxton


The Cariforum-EU Economic Partnership Agreement has stimulated a very spirited, if belated, debate in the Caribbean on its merits, demerits, and the possible consequences for the region. We have learnt much about the technical aspects of the EPA, and what is at stake for the Caribbean..some writers have drawn attention to some of the broader aspects of the issue which might facilitate a better understanding of the attitudes, expectations, and actions of both sets of negotiators…


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