Explaining Caribbean regionalism: The Caribbean Basin Initiative in comparative context
The question explored in this project was: under what conditions regional agreements are resilient? The strategy of open regionalism tries to take advantage of free trade opportunities perceived to be available at the international level. Yet, this concept does not explain the resilience of regional agreements that seem to run counter to the goal of maximizing economic benefits from free trade. To explore this theoretical question, I examined the puzzle posed by the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI). This agreement does not seem to be an economically effective one, yet it is resilient in spite of post Cold War challenges to its existence. Systemic factors that are relevant include changes such as the end of the Cold War, globalization trends as manifested through neo-liberalism and the formation of competing economic regimes like NAFTA. The literature would predict that actors lose interest in the regime when their self-interest cannot be achieved anymore. I compared the CBI case with other cases in the region such as the Lomé Conventions with the European Union and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). These cases articulate explanations for regional agreement's resilience, and challenge the usefulness of concepts such open regionalism to describe them. The purpose of this dissertation was to look at the ways in which models based on major international relations theories answer the research question. I show that identity is the key factor to understand regime resilience. Rather than other variables such as economic effectiveness, security considerations, and material accumulation interests, identity explains why a regional regime persists in the presence of major international changes that challenge it.
Latin American history
0616: International relations
0615: Political science
0336: Latin American history