A lot of talk has been generated by the Cricket World Cup (CWC) as an example of how the region can come together and make things successful. But around that talk there are other mutterings or loud shouts that suggest that not everyone sees it this way. Take, for example, the opening and closing ceremonies for CWC. I have heard and read comments that complained that the Jamaicans did not pay enough attention to the culture from the other countries. Recently, some Bajans have been complaining that the closing ceremony did not showcase Barbados, not least because the contract for the final music and dance “spectacle” had been given to a Trinidadian, Peter Minshall. That added to discontent that much of the final event had involved contracts going to foreign companies.
At the same time, Bajan manufacturing companies are being urged to seek opportunities in the Guyanese market. There is a kind of schizophrenia at work. Clearly, national rivalries are still strong in the Caribbean, and continue to work toward a self-destruction of ideas such a single market in the region. “Foreign” is regarded with suspicion, even more so if it is from elsewhere in the Caribbean. So, there is real “concern” that Trinidadian companies are buying into Barbados, etc. But the notion of a global economy means accepting that borders have to be opened, and that competition is real. Money will flow to where the returns seem best. People will choose to use what they feel are the best talents for the task. Goods that are competitive in terms of price and quality will be in higher demand. That means that nationals will lose use if they are felt to be not up to the job. It means also that local goods and services are at risk if they cannot compete, or are not protected. For this to work well and be accepted, there needs to be sound processes for choosing and deciding, what we may call full transparency. That may be the rock on which the region will founder. The region and some of its politicians and other decision-makers are still a far way off from accepting that governance is not a bad word, and in a globalised economy represents the litmus test that will separate the good from the bad.
The European Community celebrated 50 years of existence this year. The Caribbean should not feel that it has to resolve immediately its internal battle to work together to form its own “common market”, but the battle cannot be avoided.