If the development strategy for both the Caribbean and Latin America is to be the use of domestic resources for the satisfaction of domestic needs in a dynamic manner, then the gains from schemes of integration between the two regions can be considered in this context. Such a strategy would be four-pronged: the rationalization of the methods of use of principal natural resources, the reorganization of technology and the use of human resources, an emphasis on the role of capital and intermediate goods industries using domestic resources and the re-orienting of economic infrastructure to service the new pattern of commodity flows. Regional integration in a general sense could be an important part of such a development strategy by pooling natural resources and thereby realizing economies of resource complementarity; by the pooling of technology, the technological research effort and the use of human technical skills, and above all by combining economic and political bargaining power.
The precise gains from integrating the two regions could only be established after institutional changes designed to discover the actual empirical possibilities. Yet at this stage we would be sufficiently bold as to guess at some of the gains from both points of view. To the Caribbean, the potential advantages of schemes of structural integration with Latin America are immediately obvious: access to a region whose size and potential offer the chance of absorbing enormous commodity flows in volume and in range; and whose resource products, under alternative systems of resource use, might be made available to the area al lower real costs than at present.
To Latin America, the possible gains are less obvious in that the physical smallness of the Caribbean means that the letter’s market may never be more than marginal to the continental output. But at the outset we can think of at least two factors which the archipelago could bring to the continent. The first is a stock of natural resources which, although narrow in range, is considerable in volume. Caribbean countries and countries bordering on the Caribbean sea contain over 90 percent of the hemisphere’s reserves of bauxite; and the world’s largest reserves of laterites. Thus the area could perhaps help provide the resource base for a large continental metallurgical industry involving steel and aluminium, the world’s two leading metals.
A second possible advantage to Latin America from schemes of integration with the Caribbean arises out of the fact that every major metropolitan culture is represented in the area: Britain, France, Holland, the United States and recently the Soviet Union. In the past, the metropolitan connections have reduced the area to the role of appendages to big powers. But in the future if the selective use of the fund of technology developed in the advanced world will be a necessary part of Caribbean-Latin American economic restructuring, then the Caribbean links with the metropolis in language and educational systems may be turned to good advantage, even as the traditional economic relationships are changed.
It goes without saying that it will only be possible to move from the general to the particular when specific research projects on schemes of integration between the two regions are set up.