Prelude: Carfita

The following is an attempt to reproduce the substance of a number of lectures delivered on the subject of the Carib-bean Free Trade Area between March 13 and the middle of August in several places tn Trinidad and Tobago and in St. Vincent and Grenada. The high point of the series was probably reached in an address to the Oilfield Workers Trade Union at the Palms Club, San Fernando, on the evening of Friday, July 12, 1968. I have tried to keep as closely as possible to the script of that lecture amending merely to add what was thought to be important in subsequent discussions of the subject.

CARIFTA is already more than six months old. Soon on May 1, 1969 a year will have elapsed. Not much has happenedĀ· since then to change my views on the scheme. In fact a lot has happened to confirm those views. Those who argue and have argued that CARIFTA is merely a first stage and that the other stages will follow swiftly and unfailingly from these beginnings must look at the evidence. Everywhere the experiment is still in the toils. The siting of the Development Bank is still to be settled. Jamaica’s adherence to CARIFTA is itself uncertain. BWIA is still far from being the regional carrier; Jamaica has in fact entered a new contract with Air Canada at BWIA ‘s expense. The small islands, led by St. Lucia, are reviewing their position. Politicians all over are exhorting businessmen to pass the gains on to the consumers, but with each further raucous exhortation the futility of the appeal is being underlined. The businessmen are not listening and the governments lack either the will or the skill to make them listen. In fact all is as we thought it would be. There is more to come.

December 20. 1968.