What CARICOM can learn from other regionalism(s) in an era of deglobalisation. Photo shows CARICOM SecretariatCARICOM Secretariat, Guyana. [photo: Peterpanormics / Alamy]

[This is an excerpt from an article in The Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs.]

The view from ASEAN

Lastly, ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) has successfully presented itself as a valuable partner to other regional powers due to its sustained efforts to ensure peace and economic development. It has created a variety of regional partnerships, the biggest of which is the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), for which ASEAN also initiated discussions spanning nearly a decade. CARICOM (Caribbean Community) needs to consider what binds it to other Latin American and African nations and leverage that shared platform to create partnerships that undermine existing power hierarchies. SSC (South-South Cooperation) has to be a response to deglobalisation, especially with privileged Northern states like the UK seeking to become more insular and parochial to restrict access to resources and opportunities to individuals from the Global South. Thus, CARICOM should look at creating and deepening developmental pathways that centre South-South cooperation and collaboration while continually questioning what CARICOM can offer to secure these strategic regional partnerships.


CARICOM, LA (Latin America), and ASEAN have all experienced the transition from old regionalism to new regionalism in different ways and for differing reasons. The influences of global and regional power dynamics through processes like colonialism, capitalism, and globalisation have created obstacles to the progress of these regional blocs, resulting in deglobalisation and the current retreat towards deeper regionalism. Leveraging our comparative regionalism methodology, we have argued that there are lessons that CARICOM can draw from the LA and ASEAN’s regionalistic processes. CARICOM is no stranger to policy borrowing and in fact, its most successful non-economic pillar, functional cooperation, was borrowed from ASEAN and refined to suit the needs of the different Caribbean states. Thus, as CARICOM looks forward to its next 50 years and conceptualises progress under mature regionalism, it may want to consider what additional lessons it could learn from these two regional entities. In essence, we argue that neoliberal regionalism is driven by meta-governance.

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This neoliberal regionalism is undertaken with member states and facilitated by governance structures and policies that reduce restrictions on labour mobility to enhance the capacities (and ideally standing) of the small nations that comprise CARICOM. More significant investment in deepening the ties within CARICOM through the establishment of clear guiding principles (like ASEAN centrality), the active interrogations of ‘best practices’ to prevent the perpetuation of colonial and imperial influences, the appreciation of the histories of past fragmentations to understand better current national and regional governance models and expectations (like in LA), the adoption of context-specific policies that inform economic and social progress, and the construction of collaborative system and avenues for consensus-building approaches by all CARICOM nations outline policy directions that CARICOM should actively consider. Neoliberal forces worldwide will continue to exert their influence on all three regional movements, but the knowledge and belief in the importance of South–South cooperation and the continued borrowing and transferring of progressive policies will denote a way forward for these regional projects amidst pressures from the Global North. It is the fervent hope of this paper that CARICOM recognises its value to global proceedings by being a unifying force in the Americas such that the neoliberalistic trail of poverty, inequality, societal divisions, winners and losers, and distortion of national identities does not find a home in the Caribbean. Instead of moving away from competitive individualistic practices to one rooted in regional cooperation and collaboration, with continued and active learning from the lessons and models of fellow Global South regionalism(s), is an approach that will stand CARICOM in good stead for the next 50 years.

Tinesh Indrarajah is a Doctoral Student, Program in Higher Education, School of Education, Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, USA. Victoria Desimoni is a Doctoral Student, Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, Arizona State University, Arizona, USA. Tavis D. Jules is with the Programme in Higher Education and Senior NORRAG Fellow, School of Education, Loyola University Chicago.