Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Bank of the South is Here, But Can Africa Bank on the Latin American Way of Regional Integration?

The new multilateral institution is considered as an alternative to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank and seeks to satisfy development credits demand.

Seriously, it's more than an alternative; it's also yet another expression of Venezuela and its associate MERCOSUR members of their dissatisfaction with the prevalent neoliberal system.

I've written about this Bank of the South before and I explained that the Latin Americans had something that Africans certainly didn't. Beyond blood running through their veins, it's about a radicalism and conviction so unprecedented and emanating that any of their opponents feel it viscerally that these are people not to be toyed with.

If not, how is it that despite the articulations of Venezuela against the mighty US, Venezuela has -- along with Brazil; Argentina; Bolivia; Ecuador and Paraguay -- establish this Bank of the South [I notice no Uruguay!!]. Yet, Africans have allowed themselves to be fragmented on the so-called Economic Partnership Agreements?

The fallout of the signing of a so-called EPA-lite by the East African Community and SADC (without South Africa and Namibia) just leaves one speechless--not to mention a little bit less for wear the arduous efforts of civil society -- both in the North and the South.

That said, it's important to press on to stop the discussions between the bullying EU and the other regions.

In my view, the Bank of the South initiative, a formidable alternative indeed to the Breton Woods institutions of the World Bank and IMF in the sense that "each member country would have a single vote, irrespective of size and financial contribution" (from: brings into sharp relief the necessity for greater collaboration between MERCOSUR in general/Latin America specifically and other AU regionalisms to learn lessons on how they were able to resist the Free Trade Area of the Pacific in 2005, yet AU/ACP countries allowed fragmentation by the EU.

While this issue of the Bank of the South, in my view, is one of the most progressive developments in global regional integration to date--bar the ASEAN charter-- Africans ought to contemporaneously reflect on whether there is that much of a difference between the EU and the US, for them to have allowed the EU--former colonisers at that--to hoodwink many of them into an interim agreement that will most likely destroy attempts at regional integration.

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