On behalf of the Government and People of Trinidad and Tobago I extend to you a warm welcome to Trinidad, to witness the signing of the Caribbean Community Treaty here in Chaguaramas. The Treaty is a landmark on the long road the Commonwealth Caribbean has travelled since the dissolution of the West Indies Federation 11 years ago. We have experienced difficulties, frictions, misunderstandings and tensions. More than once we have faltered on the way. We have learned the hard way the lessons of economic growth in developing countries - growth without development; growth accompanied by imbalances and distortion; growth generated from outside rather than within; growth without the fullest possible use of all our resources -human, financial and natural; growth dependent on foreign technology; growth measured by the level of imported consumer goods and tastes; growth associated with the importation of raw materials which can be suspended at source without notice or on the goodwill of foreign trade unions; growth implying the subservience of an elected government to multinational corporations.

Facing the traditional emphasis on links with our metropolitan economies rather than between our own individual economies, we have learned the importance of closer ties one with another at economic and other levels, whether higher education or , labour or shipping, examination or methodology, financial matters or mass communications.

The harsh reality of the international economy has taught us in practice, if we are unwilling to absorb the theory, the imperative of cooperation in negotiations with the outside world. The accession of the United Kingdom to the European Economic Community has been decisive. When independence came to us in 1962, bringing our first association with the Commonwealth, with the United Kingdom as the head, our Commonwealth colleagues were well-nigh unanimous that the Commonwealth as we knew it would cease to exist when Britain joined Europe; now we all know that, at the very least, it must he subject to drastic modification and profound reorientation, the scope of which is yet to be fully assessed.

We have already had an agreement between the United Kingdom and the United States of America for the repeal of the Dollar Area Quotas now being considered by the Contracting Parties to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. We now face the crucial test as we begin to negotiate with the European Economic Community itself, with the United Kingdom as a member. We have so far agreed among ourselves on joint negotiation and a common approach; it remains to be seen whether centuries of individualism can be buried in one decade of cooperation.

My colleagues and I, in inaugurating today the Caribbean Community, are committed to both the deepening [for example in agriculture] and the geographical widening of the integration process in the entire Caribbean. In their name, and on my behalf, I extend a warm welcome, on the one hand to the smaller Commonwealth units whom we would be happy to welcome formally into the fold, and on the other hand to the non-Commonwealth units, both those which have already arranged for liaison with the Community and those which have so far contented themselves with merely expressing their interest in it.

All of us here today, the genuine representatives of the Caribbean, with a common history based on the Caribbean trinity - colonialism, mono-culture with its polytechnic forced labour and racism - are the symbols of fragmentation, with its concomitants of association with rival metropolitan economies and isolation of one territory from another. There can be no new dispensation which does not mean the integration of the fragmented economies of the people of the Caribbean by the people of the Caribbean, for the people of the Caribbean. It is with this larger aspiration, ladies and gentlemen, that my colleagues and I sign this Treaty this morning. All our strength is in our union, all our danger is in discord.

(Excerpted from: Selected speeches of Dr. Eric Williams. Compiled by Paul K. Sutton 1981, pp. 388-390) [Late Eric Williams was Former Prime Minister of Trinidad & Tobago]



 Eric Williams