Coincidently, that number is how much the IMF believes the Caribbean’s economy to expanded in 2009. Hopefully 2010 will be better. The Eastern Caribbean countries have just taken a proactive step forward, strengthening the OECS with the new Treaty of Bassaterre. The treaty basically does three things. First, it gives the OECS the authority to legislate on the creation of a full common market. Right now, the OECS is a customs and currency union, but there are barriers to internal factor mobility between the islands. Second, it gives the OECS the authority to enforce the legislation ... basically via national courts and, ultimately, the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court. Third, it creates a quasi-executive E.U.-style Commission headed by a Director-General to run the organization. I say “quasi,” because the Director-General won’t have the ability to directly issue orders to the executive agencies of the various OECS governments, let alone act directly upon the citizenry, but he or she will have the ability to use the courts to take governments to task. So as long as the OECS governments are in fact under the rule of law, the head of the OECS will indeed have quite a bit of de jure authority.
(Some time ago, Doug Muir and I had a debate about the E.U. that ran along these lines. I think I convinced him, but it can be very hard to know.)
So it isn’t quite a federation. And the new OECS Authority (basically, an assembly of heads of government) will make legislative decisions only by unanimity. But it takes the Organization about as close as you can get without crossing that line. (Their security forces also bump up against the same limit, sharing training and commands.) But it is a step forward for a group of islands that were already rather strongly united.
Thoughts on integration?