Thursday, February 25, 2010

More than MERCOSUR on My Mind: Goodbye to the OAS?

Is there something about Cancun?

First, WTO trade talks collapse there in 2003. Now, seven years later it is playing host to the birth of a new regional organization—the putative Community of Latin American and Caribbean States.

Truth be told, given the gargantuan size of the 32-member RIO group (comprising Latin American and Caribbean states) that has been around since 1986, it was only a matter of time before a formal name be ascribed to the grouping!

As an ardent regional integrationist, who is also a citizen of the Pan-African grouping (that comprises no less than 53 member states), this proposition looks like a delicious response to not just the US and Canada, but the paradigm of uniting under a regional umbrella.

More importantly, it looks to me like members of the Rio group have looked left and right, seen the EU, and the AU, probably heard of developments in East Asia of a Community , and thought "why not in Latin America?"

In my view, the reason why this Community would work is because AU countries, with their eight UNECA-mandated RECs are managing very well, thankyou! Xinhua thoughtfully provided a list of sub-regional organizations in that region—and it’s quite impressive. There are some nine around, with the oldest(Latin American Parliament) having been established in 1964 and the youngest as recently as….

If what I am reading is correct, then the RIO group is keen to have an economic community that would not just comprise 32 members of the Latin American and Caribbean states, but exclude the US and Canada (unlike the OAS). I am sure sometimes AU states have been keen to have an AU without some North African countries that make up the members of the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU)!

But on the specific issue of regionalism in this region, I foresee this Community to be more akin to that of an AU in the way it both accepts and accommodates the sub-regional groups, but contemporaneously dissimilar in the way it has been explicit about excluding Canada and the United States.

Honestly speaking, I do not foresee the AU excluding North Africa [especially because of the instrumental role played by Libya] anytime soon. Libyan leader al-Qaddafi’s pivotal role in the AU has perhaps put paid to the desire to jettison any element of the Arab contingent!?

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