A Regionally Integrated Pacific: The Challenge of the Cotonou Agreement to Pacific Regionalism
Thesis DisciplineEuropean Studies
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
The European Union (EU) has comparative advantage in regional integration. Moreover, regionalism is a growing phenomenon, as both the growing number of regional trade agreements and literature on new regionalism indicate. In this context, the EU has incorporated regional integration into European development policy as a strategy to help integrate the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states into the global economy, with the negotiation of region-to-region reciprocal free trade agreements, called Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA). This thesis examines the extent to which the Pacific may constitute a region, for the purposes of the Cotonou Agreement, along cultural, political and economic dimensions of regional cooperation. This is in order to measure the potential for regional integration in the Pacific, as well as to test the applicability of the EU's regional template of development in this context. A theoretical framework is developed, based on the political economy of regional cooperation among developing states, in order to apply a series of propositions to the test the integrative potential of the Pacific region. The key finding is that regionalism in the Pacific is easily politicised. Anthropological evidence and economic analysis also confirm the informal nature of regional cooperation in the Pacific works against global imperatives for deeper regional integration, as Pacific islanders have generally not subscribed to a common identity, and the welfare benefits from regional free trade are shown to be minimal. Consequently, the Pacific accepts the EPA platform in order to maintain the development partnership with the EU, rather than because regional free trade is the most desired vehicle for development in the region. A trade agreement will therefore be concluded with the Pacific ACP states, but its form and timing remain the key issues for clarification.