Introduction to the Study
Adepoju (2002) and other researchers have studied the current literature on CEMAC, which shows a gap in knowledge because few studies have attempted to examine the impact of regional integration on trade and human migration at the local level among the Central African states. Studies by Folke (2006) and other academic literature support the idea, which emphasizes that accomplishing the current study lies in determining whether people at the local level within the region have greater access to sources of income because of social, political, cultural, economic, and technological changes. One theory, which underpins this study, is the social constructivism theory. The theory provides the basis on which the research question on what social changes regional integration has caused among the CEMAC central African states (Shove, 2010). The study seeks to identify capacity gaps in mainstream regional integration, institutional capacity policies, and the level of participation of the countries within the region. Dennis (2006) and Anadi and Ruloff (2005) provide the basis for the literature, which seeks to understand whether regional integration has any impact on the lives of the people in the Central African states. The changes can take any form including better travel methods, trade between the regional countries, and the creation of business and job opportunities, which are the direct result of regional integration (Konseiga, 2007). A study by Konseiga (2007) argues that even if the governments of such countries assert that a definite impact exists, failure to support the citizens of those countries who are the direct beneficiaries of the changes means that the methods of regional integration that have been implemented so far are either insufficient or ineffective.
Mafukidze(2006) and Page and Plaza (2006) support the theories that the fear of possible negative ramifications because of regional integration in the form of unequal trade relations and local industries being overwhelmed by cheaper imports have resulted in the development of barriers toward proper integration policies and practices. In support of the arguments presented in this paper, Anadi and Ruloff (2005) provide consistent ground for supporting the research question, which seeks to establish whether regional integration through CEMAC has created better business environments for entrepreneurs and job seekers. The research question seeks to determine whether the degree of “hesitance to integrate”, which is evident among the Central African states, is because of the ineffective policies that do little to advance the cause of regional integration.
To answer such a question, it is necessary to conduct a study into the impact of regional integration thus far within CEMAC. The variables are of the study are related to changes in the amount of trade since CEMAC’s inception; the ease of migration of people within the region; the influx of foreign capital from one CEMAC member to another; the development of job opportunities; and the exchange of resources among CEMAC members (Geda & Kebret, 2008).
Background of the Study
With the emergence of regional blocks such as the European Union (EU), the Arab League, and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), which have the express purpose of promoting trade, peaceful relations, and economic cooperation, comes the question of whether or not the current international climate is predisposed toward a trend in regional integration. This is due to the apparent benefits this entails for member states. Oh and Rugman (2012) explained that the concept of regional integration is nothing new, with history showing numerous instances in which countries within the same region tended to promote trade and peaceful relations due to their inherent proximity (Oh and Rugman, 2012). It must be noted, though, that the modern day version of regional integration entails far more commitment toward specific regional agendas than what was seen in the past (Iheduru, 2012).
Regional integration has been oriented toward specific trade-related aspects involving the opening of markets, the easing of tariffs, the removal of trade restrictions, and so forth. All of these agreements are made in order to create a regional environment that is supposedly more beneficial for all the states that are part of the regional block (Iheduru, 2012). Studies such as those by Simon (2010) have, however, indicated that not all instances of regional integration actually result in positive effects for the member states (Simon, 2010). Simon (2010) points out that not all cases of regional integration are made by states with comparable levels of economic competitiveness. This is seen within EU, ASEAN, ECOWAS, and SADC.
Better business practices are very important in such integrations. Agbetsiafa (2010) definedbetter business practices as policies and regulations that are set by a country to stimulate business growth within a country. These policies and regulations are seen as an attempt to create a positive business environment that will offer a fair environment for all businesses.
There will always be cases in which one state is more economically powerful than another in terms of industrialization, access to resources, technological advancement, and so forth. This creates a distinct disparity in the trade relations between one or multiple states due to the potential for local businesses to be, in effect, overrun by cheaper foreign imports. Pogoretskyy and Beketov (2012) explained that in some multilateral agreements involving regional integration, there are cases in which the more powerful state gains the most out of the agreement leading to distinct trade imbalances.
The increased rate of human migration between states that are part of a regional integration agreement must also be taken into consideration. Pijpers examined the impact of regional integration in the case of the EU and demonstrated that human migration among EU member states increased considerably as travel restrictions in the form of border controls, visas, and the like, were removed, which encouraged tourism, regional worker migration (i.e., workers coming from one country and working in another), and inter-regional trade (Pijpers, 2008). This is not to say that all cases of regional integration would lead to increased instances of human migration.
As seen in the case of the ASEAN, the lowering of travel restrictions did not result in any considerable change in human migration in between the member states. Considering the fact that the countries of ASEAN are separated by the South China Sea and the Philippine Sea, as opposed to the EU members that share borders, it thus becomes more understandable as to why human migration in this particular instance is constrained. When examining the case of the Central African states, it thus becomes more reasonable to assume that since the countries, which are a part of CEMAC, share the same borders, it is likely that there would be an increased rate of migration between them as compared to the case of ASEAN member states. Based on the previous data involving the economic effects of regional agreement on states, it is also likely that there would be an increased amount of trade and business relations in between member states.
Studies such as those by Vancauteren and Henry de Frahan (2011) have indicated an opposite effect, suggesting that states often display a certain degree of hesitance when it comes to the lowering of trade barriers due to differences in levels of competitive advantage. This may be the case among the members of CEMAC, resulting in the possibility that despite attempts at regional integration in order to develop economically as a whole, there may have been little improvement in trade between the member states. This is mainly because the states within CEMAC may be erecting trade restrictions in order to protect their local markets due to fears of being overwhelmed by cheaper foreign imports.
Based on the above, the researcher in this study will attempt to examine whether regional integration among CEMAC member states has resulted in increased migration between member states and whether there have been positive economic developments in the form of increased trade.
Since the inception of CEMAC and the ratification of trade agreements within CEMAC block for enhancing regional integration in terms of trade, job opportunities, economic integration, social changes, and foreign capital transfer, little research and a gap in academic literature is evident on the actual impact of CEMAC (Oliva., 2008).
A study by Oliva (2008) shows that the CEMAC have not fully implemented the economic policies for the promotion of regional integration, and that evidence shows that the states are working as competitors instead of working as partners. Preliminary investigations show that such an approach would prevent any form of effective regional integration from succeeding. The argument by Oliva (2008) that the CEMAC member states are working as competitors instead of partners leads to the inevitable result that the states are prioritising protectionist policies for the state economies rather than lowering of trade barriers to enhance regional integration. The presence of inter-country rivalries and lack of solidarity among the member states have hampered the integration in the CEMAC sub-region. Cameroon and Gabon is one of the examples of endemic rivalries on leadership, which have contributed to the failures in regional integration. A example was demonstrated in the recent dispute over the location of a regional stock exchange within the CEMAC block of countries. Slocum and Langenhove (2004) reinforced the rationale for the failure of CEMAC to experience the effects of integration to be because of the lack of commitment in implementing the policies approved by the CEMAC member states.
Studies by different scholars show that CEMAC states could towards realizing the benefits of integration by working as partners could manifest itself in the form of policies. Those policies could encourage integration and trade, the lowering of tariffs and trade restrictions. The development of policies would facilitate migration among the citizens of the Central African states. By comparing regional trade data and the general perception of local residents toward regional integration, the study will show that regional integration in the case of the Central African states could result in changes that could be arguably felt by people at the local level. The data could provide evidence of whether the changes are significant or negligible and ineffective.
The main purpose of this research project is to determine whether regional integration has had an impact on trade and human migration in Central African states that are part of CEMAC. This effect will be measured by some form of positive or negative effects including the extent of the amounts of trade between the states and the level and ease of movement of people and resources among CEMAC member states. The variables of interest include free movement of people, cultural reorientation, and trade and human migration in Central African states that are part of CEMAC
By the end of this study, the researcher will utilize the accumulated data in order to make specific policy recommendations to address any perceived problems and to attempt to predict how this economic alliance (CEMAC) will evolve given the correlated data. It is expected that this research should have a profound impact on how the international community will view the concept of regional integration and how it applies to African states.
Research Question and Hypothesis
The hypothesis of this study is that although the CEMAC member states say they desire regional integration, in order to create better opportunities for the region as a whole, their mutual distrust and inherent competitiveness make cooperation challenging, resulting in an ineffective method of regional integration that is minimally observed at the local level. Qualitative questioning will address the following issues:
Has regional integration through CEMAC created a better business environment for entrepreneurs and job seekers?
This research question is important in understanding the role of regional integration where trade and political matters are concerned. It is established that globalization presents new challenges that force states to enter into certain agreements in order to compete favorably in globalized markets.
Does hesitance to integrate, seen among the Central African states, result in ineffective policies that do little to advance the cause of regional integration?
In answering this question I will aim at collecting critical data with regard to the reluctance of many states to be incorporated into the regional grouping. This question will ascertain whether it is true that regional cooperation is simply a tool that the perceived powerful states use to monopolize the markets.
The following analysis of the impact of regional integration on trade and human migration within Central African states will focus on economic effects and social implications. Each of these requires a different methodological approach to meet the particular characteristics. In general, this analysis is based on the triangulation research method that combines both quantitative and qualitative research and evaluation methods.
- Economic effects: The study of the economic effects is based on desk research. I used secondary literature and secondary quantitative data that researchers and Central African institutions (e.g., the National Statistical Office; the Ministry of Finance; various National Banks) collected. The literature consists of academic papers, government and other official Central African states’ reports, and studies by international organizations.
- Social implications: The analysis of the social implications requires a different approach and therefore requires two steps. First, I used secondary research
(mainly academic papers) to work out the primary aspects of social implications. Having this theoretical knowledge in mind, I will conduct primary research in the form of interviews or a questionnaire distributed during a short stay in various CEMAC member states. I will use a guided interview technique/questionnaire distribution strategy when talking to various Africans within the region in order to ensure compliance to proper academic standards.
The main intent of this part of the study is explorative in nature in order to fill gaps that had arisen from the desk research; hence, I will not explicitly mention the results in the successive portion of the analysis but will include them in the general text. A second social implication that resulted from the secondary research was the presence of the so-called transnational class (TC), which refers to populations within the CEMAC member states that migrate as a direct result of a variety of factors (e.g., jobs, famine). I deemed it important to get to know and understand the life of this group and to explore any impact they may have on the host society (e.g., positive or negative). This will be done through structured interviews with various foreign workers.
The main assumption of this study is that while regional integration has indeed resulted in some positive economic results for the CEMAC member states, a considerable degree of distrust still exists among member states, which creates limited instead of outright reformation of current protectionist policies. I assume that one of the reasons behind this is the unequal distribution of economic power among members of CEMAC with the economically well off states within the region such as Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, and Cameroon, having advanced considerably in industrialization and trade as compared to the Republic of Congo, Chad, and the Central African Republic, which have not.
Based on the work of Zawahri and Mitchell (2011), which examined the actions of states involved in bilateral and multilateral agreements, it was often the case that weaker nations viewed their stronger counterparts with a certain degree of distrust in matters relating to economic and trade agreements. This is due to the potential negative impact such deals may have had on their local economies (Zawahri & Mitchell, 2011). It is not that entering into a bilateral or multilateral agreement can be considered negative—far from it. Many bilateral and multilateral deals over time have resulted in positive economic effects for the countries involved.
The problem lies in the fact that stronger states tend to gain more from entering into any form of agreement with weaker states by virtue of their economic might, which enables them to effectively dictate the terms of the agreement and enforce them when necessary. This would, of course, present itself as a problem for weaker states because of the potential for any number of possible consequences that may come about, such as: cheaper foreign imports, which would devastate their local economy; the possibility of product dumping; overly strict export requirements, in order to meet the standards set by a stronger state; and unregulated human migration, which could take jobs away from local residents.
As Zawahri and Mitchell (2011) explained, states often hesitate to enter into bilateral and multilateral agreements because of the potential for abuse by larger member states. As such, it is often the case that they would prefer not to enter into the agreement at all, barring some form of protectionist measure, in order to ensure that their local industries would be preserved from undue hardship as a result of direct competition from foreign exports (Zawahri & Mitchell, 2011). Evidence of this degree of hesitance at the regional level can be seen in the interaction between the EU and ASEAN, wherein ASEAN member states have been unwilling to enter into any form of free-trade agreement due to the potential for agricultural product dumping by the EU.
When presented with a revised trade agreement that included a degree of protectionism for the local agricultural industries of the ASEAN member states, the EU refused to enter into the agreement. Simonelli (2009) explained that this was indicative of the fact that the EU actually had ulterior motives aside from promoting greater trade relations in the form of product dumping. Related to this is the realist theory in international relations, which states that cooperation between states is difficult to achieve because of the possibility of cheating and the concept of relative gains between different classes of states.
Taking this into consideration, I assume that although a certain degree of regional integration is present as a result of CEMAC, the creation of broad cooperative agreements would be difficult to achieve. As explained by the realist theory, such integration would involve interstate cooperation and, as a result, would manifest itself in the form of an insufficient or ineffective degree of economic cooperation. In the case of the CEMAC member states, this manifests itself in the form of the prospective lifting of tariffs that have yet to be fully implemented, as well as considerable levels of border tensions despite the fact that all members of CEMAC have access to a regional passport system that allows transit among the various member states. Thus, from the various facts presented in this section it can be seen that a certain degree of justification exists behind my stated assumptions regarding the potential problems with regional integration in the case of CEMAC. Before proceeding, it must be noted that I also assume that one of the reasons behind the inherent problems in achieving effective regional cooperation is the high level of corruption within the governing bodies of the countries involved in CEMAC. This level of endemic corruption has shown itself to create problems for regional cooperation because of the self-serving nature of corrupt officials.
This study will utilize a mixed quantitative/qualitative research design to explore the impact of regional integration on trade and human migration. This is fundamentally a qualitative study with quantitative data gathered to further support the conclusions of the study. The results of this study will thus be determined by a regression analysis in order to measure the relations between such independent variables as regional integration, particularly the adoption of free-trade agreements, and dependent variables, such as the intensity of trade and migration in this region. In addition, the econometric data of the last ten years from CEMAC states will be examined in order to create a more in-depth analysis of the economic effects of regional integration.
The mixed methods will rely on the pragmatist paradigm and combines both the qualitative and quantitative paradigms by focusing on thematic and statistic data analytic techniques. The rationale for using the method is to explore exhaustively the relationship between impacts of CEMA on the social change based on the concepts of the grounded theory. Here, evaluation of studies based on both implicit and explicit strategies will provide sufficient ground to answer the research questions” (Terrell, 2012). The quantitative-qualitative continuum is widely accepted as the core of a holistic paradigm. The approach will allow for objectivity, external and internal validity, and reliability of the study based on primary and secondary sources of data. A clear presentation of facts from the constructivist and positivism approaches based on exploratory sequential design where an embedded design of both QL and QN methods are used will underpin the mixed method research design. The study adopted the mixed research method to bridge the gap between the qualitative and quantitative paradigms. The approach enables the study to overcome the ontological, epistemological, and axiological weaknesses inherent in both paradigms to offer the research an empirical source of knowledge (Tanentzap, Bazely & Lafortezza, 2010).
The quantitative research paradigm forms the cornerstone of this research and will address the problem of personal bias toward the subjects involved in the research and justify the stated hypothesis (Johnson & Onwuegbuzie, 2004). The solutions of the study will draw on the use of numerical data analysis, which is an outcome-based paradigm to understand whether regional integration has caused any social changes within the CEMAC block of countries.
I will also rely on such qualitative methods as interviews in order to see how regional integration affects the lives of urban population in Central African states. It is expected that through a combination of the views of local residents of the CEMAC member states, as well as the econometric data gathered, I will be able to discern whether any positive, negative or even negligible effects have resulted from the regional integration brought about through CEMAC. One may note, however, that although the econometric data needed for this study can be obtained through a variety of online databases, the responses from the research subjects of this study necessitate my traveling directly to various Central African states in order to distribute questionnaires and conduct the necessary interviews to gain the needed information for this study. This should not prove to be overly difficult to do as evidenced by the fact that despite such states’ being ranked among the poorest in the world, they actually do have tourism programs and actively try to bring foreigners into their countries. The qualitative paradigm will draw on interpretive practices, which transforms the study into a series of observations, photographs, observations, interviews, and conversations. The approach will provide a detailed description of the attitudes, beliefs, case histories, and information from secondary sources to understand the actual impact of regional integration on the societies within the central African States. Here, the grounded theory is the most appropriate, which offers a set of flexible strategies to address the research questions. The entire model of the qualitative paradigm relies on the cardinal principle of the casual relationship between variables, which are used in the study.
The independent variable in this study consists of the econometric data that I will gather, and the dependent variable will consist of the responses gained from the various research subjects who will be recruited for this study. I anticipate that through a correlation between the researched econometric data and the responses of the research participants, I will in effect be able to make a logical connection regarding the positive or negative effects of regional integration on trade and human migration.
As mentioned earlier, this study will limit itself to primarily distributing questionnaires to members of the urban population within the CEMAC member states. Aside from this, the research will avoid an examination of the other states within Africa that have undergone regional integration because of the necessity of having to create an even more expansive literature review and population examination that would go beyond the initial premise of this examination. In relation to the econometric data I will examine, the research will primarily confine itself to a ten-year period, starting from the latest available data and going back ten years from that particular point. Although it may be true that econometric data spanning a far longer period is available, I decided that a ten-year period would suffice for the needs of this study.
One major constraintof this research is the lack of suitable and recent data about the economic effects within Central African states that will be examined for this study. The National Statistics Office only collects a limited set of econometric data and, in addition, the data is primarily macroeconomic with little information about the actual implications at the local level. In addition, the data of the international organizations including the World Bank, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), is rather incomplete. Based on such limited information, I will work out the specific characteristics of the development within individual states largely but will indicate the parts where I had to revert to macroeconomic findings because of a lack of pertinent local data.
In terms of the social analysis, primary research has been conducted to fill some of the evolving gaps and to get better insight into the matter. Yet, it must be noted that time constraints only allow structured interviews/questionnaire distribution with an unrepresentative number of people, and also a limited flexibility when conducting the interviews and distributing the questionnaires. A general overview is therefore not possible, though the statements certainly add to the knowledge about the impact of regional integration.
Overall, the data-collection process is expected to be uneventful; however, some challenges may be present in collecting demographic/economic data during the past ten years because of the inherent limitations in data-collection procedures by the Central African states utilized in this study. Such issues, however, can be resolved through access to online academic resources such as the EBSCO hub, Academic Search Premier, Master FILE Premier, Newspaper Source Plus, and AP News Monitor Collection. Other databases consulted for this topic include Emerald Insight, Academic OneFile, Expanded Academic ASAP, General OneFile, Global Issues in Context, Newsstand, Opposing Views in Context, Popular Magazines, and World History in Context, as well as other such online databases that provide the necessary information. Relevant books were also included in the review. Articles were also acquired from the economist.com and other web sites, which guided research in the appropriate direction for identifying further justifications for the asserted arguments.
Significance of the Study
Although extensive studies exist that have examined the various problems that have impacted Africa, few have focused on a combination of the personal opinions of the local residents alongside that of econometric data. This study will lead to the creation of detailed picture of the impact that the current trend in regional integration has on local trade and human migration within the context of Central African states.
Currently, it is the prevailing consensus that regional integration is not necessarily a seamless process, despite the potential this has in creating positive economic and social effects for member states. This was seen in the case of the EU, ASEAN, the Arab League, and a variety of other regional agreements, which current prevailing literature shows were created over time and after a considerable degree of negotiation because of the economic imbalances among member states.
From these examples it is clear that for any potential for relative gains to occur, will not have the results for all member States because of the perception that gains could not be shared equally. In light of this, it is not surprisingthat such problems are also present in the case of the CEMAC member states; however, unlike the examples of regional integration given above, the Central African states in question have to deal with problems that are not limited to mere economic issues.
Rather, the problems Central African states face range from rampant poverty, low levels of economic development, and corruption at various levels of the government to insufficient external trade, climate change, and human migration as a result of famine, labor issues, and a host of other problems. These issues make regional integration more difficult to sufficiently implement and can create an almost negligible impact on trade. This study will help to create a better understanding of how regional integration is being implemented and whether it has resulted in positive effects for trade and human migration. This study can have significant implications for policymakers. The resulting findings may show whether the policies are effective and how they can be improved.
Overall, this section has delved into the concept of regional integration for members of CEMAC, how such integration could result in positive or negative effects, and the various issues that Central African states may face as they try to integrate their financial and economic markets. In addition, this section has shown the significance of the research and how it can contribute to an understanding of the impact of regional integration and how it differs on a case by case basis. Thus, this chapter reveals how an examination of the case of CEMAC is an important milestone in regional integration research since it shows how states have developed a certain degree of hesitance regarding regional integration due to potential risks. It shows how the current trend in international relations where regional blocs are formed may not necessarily apply to all regions given differences in economic capability and the capacity to be considered “equals” in the inter-regional relationship that they are attempting to foster.
Research by Oliva (2008) has demonstrated that the birth of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC) was a means to create political, economic, cultural, social, and technological change and integration among the CEMAC countries. An argument by Waal (2002), which agrees with the research by Oliva (2008) shows that regional integration, could underpin a number of benefits, which the sub-region of Central Africa states could benefit because of their membership in CEMAC. There is empirical evidence by Adger (2010), Page and Plaza (2006), which show that the results are far from the original expectations of the integration problem. Page and Plaza (2006) proposes the problems to be that member states are still taking unilateral actions. Page and Plaza (2006) has identified another problem to be cross border tensions despite the existence of a common passport for all six states. Overall, the origin of this integration is traced to the early 1960s, when the first free-trade agreements were concluded. CEMAC was formed based on these agreements (IMF, 2006). Now, economists and sociologists still debate the effects of this policy (Ulfelder, 2008). The problem in this study will be to examine the impact of regional integration on Central Africa in this chapter.
The focus of this chapter, the literature review, will be on the effects of regional integration on trade, migration, social change, and border control as it appears in scholarly literature (Page & Plaza, 2006). This chapter will investigate scholarly works that address the most important question including Central African countries currently act as partners or competitors because of regional integration. The literature review will include a brief history of regional integration in Africa, as well as an overview of the rationale and formation of CEMAC.
The primary focus of the CEMAC block were primarily focused on the free-trade agreements between the Central African states and was adopted to attract new investors to create social an economic transformation (Yang & Gupta, 2007). For example, such scholars as Yang and Gupta (2007) tried to determine whether the liberalization of international policies revitalized economic life in this region. Ronald Pourtier (2003) examined the current integration projects in Central Africa. This research discussed the influence of these policies on the demographic situation in this region. The analysis of regional integration is primarily based on various theories of free trade that postulate that elimination of trade barriers and liberalization policies are vital for the successful functioning of the economy and infrastructure (Wohlforth, 2011).
In line with the goals of the study, the literature review will consider the econometric data and studies published within the last ten years. The literature review will include studies that have relied primarily on such qualitative methods as interviews in order to gather key data, specifically to answer the question of how regional integration has affected the lives of urban populations in Central African countries. Finally, the literature review will examine the effects of regional integration on border control between CEMAC member states.
Research literature by Waal (2002) and Hope (2002) among other authors, which seeks to answer the question on the impact of regional integration and particular by CEMAC based on the the creation of partnership plans such as the New Partnership for Africa’s Development within the countries (NEPAD) (Langhammer & Hiemenz, 1990). The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the African Union Commission (AUC), African Development Bank (ADB), Regional Economic Communities (RECs), UNECA, which is responsible for mainstreaming regional policies on trade and national development.
Research studies have shown that countries in CEMAC blocks in the central African region have better political systems, better democratic institutions, and better political environment, which have led to new freedoms of movement and trade. The net results have been better participation in the development initiatives within the regional countries. Research by Adepoju (2002) have shown that regional integration has made the countries within the region to put the region’s best natural and technological resources into the center stage of social development. Evidence by Adger (2010) has shown that because of regional integration, countries within the region have developed better policies and plans, which have enabled the states to increase their budgetary allocations on education, social development plans and projects, economic stimulus plans, investment in the development of healthcare faculties, investment in capacity building, and development of educational institutions.
Adger (2001) agrees with Anadi and Ruloff (2005) and Adepoju (2002) that many of the central African states have shown radical changes in their political mentality. The rapid development and reorganisation, democratisation, and agreements which allow for the free movement of the people provide strong evidence of the positive impact caused by regional integration.
According to Adger (2001) and Page and Plaza (2006), the importance of such a study shows how the removal of trade tariffs, import and export quotas, the reduction or removal of taxes levied on certain products, and bilateral agreements could lead to positive social change. The transformation could lead to reduction in the poverty incidence levels, better security, economic prosperity, better economic integration, and other aspects of social change. The argument is that regional integration could underpin the desired social change in the form of better forms of travel, trade, business, or job opportunities, which are the direct result of regional integration. Adger (2002) asserts that regional governments need to factor the people as the underpinning force, which can successfully bring the effects of regional integration to reality. Research by Adger (2001), Geda, and Kebret (2008) lays blame on governments as causing the delay and sometimes hampering the successful implementation of regional integration agreements and ripple effect of social change.
Geda and Kebret (2008) concluded in their research that CEMAC has not created the desired social change in terms of equal trade opportunities, increased volume of trade of commodity trade, convergence of per capita incomes, strong diffusion of technology, better exchange of ideas, knowledge and skills, and innovation. Geda and Kebret (2008) support their findings with empirical evidence that countries, which have ratified and are party to the CEMAC agreements fear possible negative ramifications. Those ramifications include unequal trade relations, adverse impact on local industries because of the overwhelming impact of cheaper imports, and barriers toward the creation of proper integration policies and practices. Research findings by Geda and Kebret (2008) and other academicians support the rationale for conducting this study to understand the impact of social change in the context of the desired social change for the ratified treaties. They include the changes in the volume of trade when CEMAC started operating until today, the migration trends and barriers to the movement of people within the region, the influx of foreign capital from one CEMAC member to the other, the development of job opportunities within the member countries, and the exchange of resources among the CEMAC member states.
My review of the impact of regional integration on trade and human migration in Central Africa employed a number of different search methods. The research began with online searches of several academic databases hosted by the EBSCO hub, Academic Search Premier, Master FILE Premier, Newspaper Source Plus, and AP News Monitor Collection. Other databases consulted for this topic include Emerald Insight, Academic OneFile, Expanded Academic ASAP, General OneFile, Global Issues in Context, Newsstand, Opposing Views in Context, popular magazines, and World History in Context. Relevant books were also included in the review. The combined effect of the scholarly literature and the books allowed me to glean a comprehensive reading of the topic. This, in turn, created the structural support needed for a discussion of the concepts of economic integration, trade, regional integration, human migration, and the particular challenges the continent of Africa faces in implementing a viable model of regional integration.
Regional integration can be considered a method by which states enter into a bilateral and multilateral agreement to fulfill a common purpose, which can be economic, social, or political in nature (Simon, 2010). From the perspective of Simon (2010), regional integration can be considered a way in which states position themselves so as to minimize conflict and maximize the benefits attained from cooperation with another state or states within the same region. This usually takes the form of removing specific barriers related to free trade, transportation of goods, labor, interregional migration and an assortment of other beneficial aspects related to regional integration (Cattaneo, 2009) (Lin and Liu, 2012). Two of the most prominent examples of regional integration in this regard are the EU and ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations), both of which have enabled their citizens to enjoy unrestricted travel among member states as well as fewer barriers to trade and commerce (Aggarwal, 2010). Both the EU and ASEAN show the positive effects of regional integration and how it can be utilized to great effect in order to create better economic and political conditions for participating countries (Kernic and Karlborg, 2010).
What one must understand is that one of the primary reasons behind regional integration is the creation of a common infrastructure, which would in effect transcend national interests. This should result in a greater harmonization of states within a particular region (Dawid, Gemkow, Harting and Neugart, 2012). This means that when a state becomes part of a process of regional integration resulting in the creation of an institution such as the EU, it becomes inclined toward fostering deeper ties with other members, thus resulting in a greater predilection toward the preservation of the organization (Capannelli, Lee, and Petri, 2010) (Desai and Vreeland, 2011).
There is evidence toward fostering deeper ties of integration with the case of Germany and various other EU member states who sought to preserve the entity at all costs during the onset of the European debt crisis (Fujita, 2007). Studies such as those by Fujita (2007) point out that the development of such a predilection toward the preservation of institutions, created as a direct result of regional integration results from the following factors:
- the perception of benefits derived from integration (economic or otherwise);
- the ability to negotiate as a block;
- the existence of a sense of community; and
- the perception of survival, both regionally and internationally.
We must acknowledge that the establishment of institutions, which act as facilitators of inter-state policies and trade, lessens the amount of conflict in between states (Vieira & Alden, 2011). The more perceived benefits that states derive from regional integration, the more likely they are to support initiatives which would result in a certain loss of sovereignty, but grant greater overall benefit for all those involved in the organization (Fujita, 2007). This particular factor is especially true in cases involving regions with high levels of historical conflict or scarce resources (German, 2012).
Case of Greece
Regional integration should not be considered as creating entirely positive results for all the states involved, bearing in mind the case of Greece in the EU (Stack & Pentecost, 2011). As Stack and Pentecost (2011) explain, while the initial goal of any multilateral agreement is benefits for all those concerned, there will be of course those who will benefit more. There will also be those who benefit less, and even those who apparently do not have any perceived benefits from entering into such an agreement and may even find that being a part of it is detrimental toward their success as a state (Stack & Pentecost, 2011). With the European debt crisis in full swing, many within the fields of economics and international studies came to question regional integration due to the potential spillovers that come about as a direct result of having interlinked economic systems (Stack and Pentecost, 2011).
A spillover effect can be described as instances that occur in one state that “spill over” into another state and that, as a result, have negative ramifications due to inter-linkages involving regional policies and state economies (Stack and Pentecost, 2011). This was seen when states within the EU that were affected by toxic subprime debt from the U.S. housing crises created a detrimental domino effect on the economies of other states within the EU despite the fact that they had not been similarly affected by investing in the U.S. housing market (Weber, 2012). Studies such as those by Weber (2012) have shown that, in terms of creating economic competitiveness, regional integration through the interlocking of economic systems and even the establishment of a common currency can cause a country to be less competitive.
Weber (2012) referred to Greece and its acceptance into the EU as one of the best examples of how regional integration can go wrong for existing member states. First, while the promotion of intra-regional trade, through the lowering of barriers to entry, helps to facilitate the movement of people, products, and monetary assets from one state to another, this creates distinct vulnerabilities, which the barriers were meant to prevent. For example, when Greece entered into the common currency union, this made products and services by its local firms less competitive as compared to when it primarily utilized the Drachma as its currency (Weber, 2012).
The value of the euro in effect made the products of Greece far more expensive to import which resulted in a slow but sure deterioration of the local economy of Greece (Weber, 2012). What one must understand is that, unlike other members of the EU, which have a well established technological and manufacturing infrastructure that makes them globally competitive, Greece was primarily an agricultural and shipping-based economy (Maitland and van Gorp, 2009). Thus, from the point of view of Thonke and Spliid (2012), the only states that benefited from the implementation of a common currency were those with already globally competitive economies. Not only that, the economies of Germany, France, and Spain benefitted more from intra-regional trade with Greece than Greece did from trade with (Piesse and Hearn, 2012).
The Greece case and the CEMAC member states
The case of Greece presents a variety of potential implications for members of the CEMAC member states because it creates the possibility that one, if not several, of the states involved would not derive the same amount of benefit from regional integration as compared to the other states within CEMAC (Nicolas, 2010). One can see evidence that shows that despite the member states having supposedly eliminated tariffs among themselves, the full implementation of the integration policy has yet to take effect within the member states (Nicolas, 2010). This means that the member states of CEMAC acknowledge the possibility that should they fully open their trade routes and economies to the other member states, there is a very real possibility that this would result in adverse consequences for their local industries.
From the perspective of Espinoza, Prasad, and Williams (2011), no state is equal, and to believe so is ignoring reality. As such, based on the views of realism, the stronger state usually derives the most benefit from any bilateral or multilateral agreement, with the only course of action of weaker states being either acceptance of the terms of the agreement or not entering into it at all (Espinoza, Prasad, and Williams, 2011). From this viewpoint, several member states are reluctant, if not unwilling to completely remove tariffs due to the potential that integration has in creating problems for their local economy.
Regional Integration and Dependency Theory
Dependency theory can illustrate the hesitancy of the CEMAC member states to engage in economic integration. The main idea behind dependency theory is that “various resources from the periphery, representing the poor and under developed states, flow toward the core, representing the rich and industrialized nations” (Nelson and Pack, 1999). The theory itself is a branch of Marxism. That theory was heavily developed during the mid- point of the twentieth century (Bhatti, 1980).
While its main premise was the “core and periphery” system, it did imply that poor states were integrated into the world economic order in such a way that developing countries cannot match rich industrialized states under the present political and economic world order (Baylis and Smith 2001). At the time of its creation, such an assumption proved to be quite true. Wealthy industrialized countries at that time had several advantages, which left emerging economies hard pressed to even reach a fraction of what such societies have accomplished; these advantages included technological innovation, modern day infrastructures and systems, highly educated populations, and several centuries of social development (Chilcote, 1981).
Such a state of affairs can be seen among members of CEMAC wherein relatively rich countries such as Cameroon have a well-established industrial and economic base as a direct result of its natural resource wealth (i.e., oil). This established industrial and economic base has placed Cameroon in a situation, which enables it to be far more economically competitive as compared to neighboring states such as the Central African Republic or Gabon. Based on the work of Sparkman (1977), which examined how states of varying economic competitiveness within the same region interacted with one another, Sparkman (1977) found in several instances (seen within Asia and varying parts of Eastern Europe) that they fell into similar patterns of behavior.
These patterns are similar to the concepts found within dependency theory, wherein states that were less economically competitive found themselves in a situation wherein they were merely supplying resources to the industrialized state and were relegated to a status of static economic dependence instead of dynamic economic competitiveness (Sparkman, 1977). We see this in the case of the CIS (Commonwealth of the Independent States) within Eastern Europe that were relegated to being mere resource providers to Russia when they were integrated within the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) instead of developing their own independent economic competitiveness (Nindl, 2009).
From the examination byNindl (2009) of the USSR and various instances of regional integration within South America, we see that weaker states that opened themselves up economically during regional integration became more likely to become vulnerable. Consequently, they are being relegated to the status of a “periphery” state to the “core” states of the regional cooperative agreement that were more economically competitive (Nindl, 2009). Nindl (2009) described this as almost inevitable at times. While regional integration does facilitate better and more efficient methods of trade, this does not necessarily result in the development of a country’s industrial capacity. Carabelli and Cedrini (2010) explain that it is a false assumption to believe that regional integration automatically makes a country more competitive. However, regional trade does at times result in many opportunities for local industries.
It is also true that other countries within the same regional cooperation agreement have their own local industries. Those local industries may be able to supply the same types of products at a fraction of the cost because of better processes and advanced technologies (Canac & Garcia-Contreras, 2011).
This is particularly true for countries within the same region that share distinct socio-cultural traits and also have similar local environments, which would give rise to agricultural products that would be quite similar (Carabelli and Cedrini, 2010). Duvall (1978) made this point by stating that the most likely scenario to occur is that when it comes to regional trade among countries of varying economic competitiveness, the least competitive country would not be able to compete within the market. The country with better industries of the same products will have the advantage. As a result, this country would have to adjust in order to develop some form of trade benefit from the regional agreement (Duvall, 1978). In most cases, this trade takes the form of raw material exports, which are always in need.
The inherent problem with this, Tkachenko (2009) determined, is it limits the potential, so to speak, of developing local industries to become more competitive in creating products that are native to the region in favor of raw material exports. As a result, local industries of some product types will decline, resulting in development stagnation instead of improvements (Tkachenko, 2009). We saw this in the case of the USSR wherein states such as Moldova, Belarus, and even Ukraine became less competitive because of internal policies that focused on providing resources unique to each region instead of trying to develop their industries as a whole. The result was an over-dependence on Moscow because of the lack of a sufficient local industrial infrastructure (Tkachenko, 2009). Once the Soviet Union dissolved, this left many eastern European states with economic and industrial infrastructures that had become too dependent on the more industrial “core” state, resulting in their becoming the poorest states in Europe for quite some time as they struggled to develop some form of economic independence (Tkachenko, 2009).
In order to survive in such an environment, various developing countries fell into the pattern of supplying raw resources to industrialized countries in exchange for various products and technologies. These products and technologies were not bought at the same price of the natural resources sent, but rather had a significant amount of value added to their overall prices (Santos, 1970). This added value (justified as processing and production costs) was one of the main reasons dependency theorists at the time stated that little possibility existed for periphery states to get out of their current situation since more value was flowing toward the core than what was flowing out (Frank, 1967). For a time, this proved to be true because core states enjoyed years of sustained growth and development as a direct result of the resources flowing into the core and the wealth accumulated by selling processed resources to the periphery (Cox, 1981).
Considering this growth and development when examining the case of the CEMAC member states, we must consider whether the same occurrence will happen or is already happening , hence the continued hesitance of several member states to commit fully to the economic union. Dependency theory provides a rationale for why this is happening, wherein wealthy nations perpetuate a state of dependence on such countries through various means, whether economic, financial, political, or the development of human resources. This is in order to perpetuate a continuous stream of resources toward the core; accordingly, periphery states need to be kept in a constant state of dependence.
According to a study by Thonke and Spliid (2012), a state of dependence is likely to occur in the case of CEMAC member states. Their study examined trade within various African regions during the past decade (Thonke & Spliid, 2012). It may be true that the African continent as a whole has been espousing better trade relations, various types of alliances, and many regionally intensive agreements. But the fact remains according to Thonke and Spliid (2012) that African states can be considered a microcosm of the state of global affairs today wherein it is the stronger states that often take advantage of their weaker counterparts.
Clear evidence of this, as Thonke and Spliid (2012) stated, is that despite the fact that clear delineations over territories have already been established within the continent, there are still border disputes that exist to this very day, and, as such, it is usually the case that it is the stronger African states that are the instigators of conflict. Thonke and Spliid (2012) described this as classical realism in action and predicted that this would entail far more difficult interregional alliances between stronger and weaker states because of the wariness such states would have regarding any regionally intensive agreement with states with which they used to have an adverse relationship, to put it lightly.
Sekaran (2006) noted that a theoretical framework “is a conceptual model of how one theorizes and makes logical sense of the relationships among several factors that have been identified as important to the problem” (p. 87). The elementary function of a theoretical framework is to outline and assess the varied interrelationships that exist between phenomena or variables thought to form a critical constituent of the situational dynamics under review. Sekaran (2006) says that a theoretical framework is modeled around the interrelationship between the independent variables and the dependent variables. In this case, it is considered instrumental in examining the impact of regional integration on trade and human migration. To understand the points of conflict better in the case of CEMAC, I will utilize realism, liberalism, and neoliberal institutionalism in order to examine the decisions of the states that are involved and to assess why they pursued a particular course of action.
First, realists are under the assumption that cooperation between states is difficult to achieve because of the possibility of cheating and the concept of relative gains between different classes of states. From a liberalist perspective, cheating also occurs; however, instead of relative gains, collective action problems result (Hamati-Ataya, 2010; Walker, 2008). The easiest solution to this problem would be to enact some form of regional cooperative agreement. This ensures a level playing field. A majority of African states have hesitated, or are unwilling to enter into a proper arrangement despite the fact that the conflict of interest in this case is one that is merely perceived and not wholly substantiated based on solid evidence (i.e., that cheating would occur or that free trade would devastate their local economies) (Yurdusev, 2006).
Considering the liberal view, collective action problems for inter-state cooperation can be summarized into two distinct problem sets, namely:
- Achieving cooperation between states is relatively costly to organize, monitor, and enforce (Wilson, 2011).
- Free riding can occur, wherein certain states benefit from the cooperation but do not pay the costs of achieving cooperation (Van De Haar, 2009).
From the realist perspective, even if states find themselves in a situation where cooperative action would be mutually beneficial, the fact remains that these states are still concerned about the concept of relative gains that would result from cooperative action (Hall, 2011). This means that another state would gain more than they otherwise would as a direct result of their entering into a cooperative agreement (Wohlforth, 2011). Based on this, realists state that cooperation is a lot more difficult to achieve than otherwise believed. They highlight this point because of the behavior of states, whereby they would give up the potential gains accrued through cooperation if such cooperative action resulted in greater gains for other parties in the cooperative agreement (Wohlforth, 2011).
It is this combination of the realist and liberalist perspective that will serve to highlight and explain the actions of the CEMAC member states regarding their unilateral actions. Those actions can be: conflicts at boarder crossings, hesitance to enter into broad free-trade agreements; and relative unwillingness to tackle issues related to labor practices despite the perceived benefits of regional cooperation and trade liberalization.
It must be noted, though, that an alternative exists to the liberalist and realist view that takes the form of neoliberal institutionalism. The theory of neoliberal institutionalism advocates the use of institutions as facilitators of cooperative action between states (Sterling-Folker, 2000). From the neoliberal institutionalism perspective, creating institutions, especially qualitative multilateral ones, alleviates the problems connected to Collective Action Problems (CAPs) and also resolves relative-gains concerns (McQuiston, 2009).
We should keep in mind that, from the neoliberal perspective, institutions are not limited to concepts such as the United Nations but can also be described as “a persistent and connected set of rules, formal or informal that prescribe behavioral roles, constrain activity, and shape expectations” (Hall, 2011). As such, when it comes to inter-state cooperative action between two or more countries (i.e., the Central African states) the use of institutions becomes a pivotal concept that determines the future of regional cooperation between the parties involved, especially when taking into consideration the positive effects that come about (Cozette, 2008).
I will use this theory in conjunction with the realist and liberalist perspective. I will do this in order to attempt to show that despite the inherent problems in regional cooperation in the case of Central African states, the resulting benefits that come about through the use of institutions as facilitators of cooperative action outweigh the inherent costs and perceived problems involved. In the end, this will create a positive impact on trade and human migration.
The assumptions of realism are:
- The international system is anarchic.
- There is no authority above states capable of regulating their interactions.
- States are individualistic in that they prefer to decide on their relationships with other states on their own rather than having those decisions dictated by an outside entity. Hence, the fact that states are considered the primary actors in international relations with no other entity (aside from a stronger state) being capable of dictating their actions.
- States mold the system using statecraft.
According tothe realist perspective, sovereign states are the primary actors in international relations, and as such are the main movers in the international system (Guzzini, 2004). The realist school of thought asserts that international institutions such as the United Nations, nongovernmental organizations such as CEMAC, Greenpeace, Amnesty international, multinational corporations such as the Blackstone Group, and other sub-state or trans-state actors, have little independent influence on international affairs. This is important to note when it comes to explaining the unilateral actions of the member states of CEMAC.
The basis of regional integration is the implementation of a sufficient international institution to mitigate concerns regarding cheating. This institution is also there to ensure compliance to agreed-upon economic terms and policies. If such an institution cannot enforce compliance, then it is unlikely that sufficient or even effective regional integration with positive economic results can take place (Williams, 2004).
If the realist position is to be believed, then it can be stated that, despite the creation of CEMAC, it is unlikely that Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, and Gabon will comply with the regional policies CEMAC mandates so long as there are no effective means of enforcement in place. This is not to say that, despite the realist perspective, regional integration is outright impossible, this is a faulty assumption given the many examples that exist of regional integration throughout the world, such as EU and ASEAN. Rather, it is more prudent to say that regional integration is difficult to achieve given that it would require an institution to dictate the action of a state, which is not possible under the realist perspective but is achievable under neoliberal institutions to a certain degree (Williams, 2004).
From Lebow’s (2011) perspective, it would all depend on the function of the institution and the level of “powers” the member states give to the institution (Lebow, 2011). For example, in the case of the EU, the EU Central Commission, to a certain degree, can dictate the economic policies of the region as a whole. This is done especially when it comes to aspects related to inter-state trade and control over their shared currency. In the case of ASEAN, such a degree of control is not present and is more inclined toward promoting regional trade and helping the member states negotiate as a block.
An examination of CEMAC reveals that, in its current form, it lacks both the authority and ability to enforce mandates. This would, as a result, lead to individual member states’ enacting their own economic policies instead of those CEMAC prescribes, which is happening today as evidenced by a competitive mindset instead of a cooperative one.
Another aspect of the realist perspective is the view that states are considered rational unitary actors, with all of them pursuing actions both internationally and domestically for the sake of their national interest (Walker & Morton, 2005). It is interesting to note that in this case, realism presents the assumption that states have a general distrust of long-term cooperation or alliance because of the potential for abuse by other states that enter into that agreement (Walker & Morton, 2005). Despite regularly engaging in situations of necessary international cooperation, states continue to strategize in order to maintain national advantages. Larger and richer nations such as Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, and Cameroon, perceive this move as one that increases their advantage while less wealthy states such as the Republic of Congo, Chad, and the Central African Republic accept being seen and treated as trivial characters on the international playing field.
One of the base principles of the realist theory explains that for each state, national interest becomes the overriding facilitator of decision making because of the necessity of national security and survival (Kelanic, 2008). As such, in pursuit of national security, states strive to amass resources, whether economic, military, or political, in order to ensure the survival of the state.
The concept of national interest is defined as a country’s inherent goals in relation to the pursuit of certain economic, military, or cultural objectives (Kelanic, 2008). This is reflected in various foreign-policy mandates in relation to the creation of trade unions, military alliances, and other means of achieving mandated state goals. What must be understood is that based on the theory of realism in international relations, the pursuit of national interests is one of the primary goals of the state and thus helps to shape its foreign policy in order to achieve certain ends (Kratochwil, 1982). This is not to imply that national interests are the primary reason behind the shaping of foreign policy but rather that they create the need behind the policy in the first place (Kratochwil, 1982).
For example, if hostile states surround a country, its national interest would be the preservation of the state from outside incursion, which would impact its foreign policy in dealing with those states (Adivilah, 2009). The case of Israel and its foreign policy agenda against several Middle Eastern countries within the region is a plausible example. Similarly, if a country has a distinct economic agenda that encourages economic growth and development, this would in turn have a distinct impact on its foreign policy agenda, as well. This is evident in the case of Singapore and its utilization of free-trade agreements with various states, resulting in its development of an import/export hub within the Southeast Asian region.
For the CEMAC member states, their main national interests take the form of addressing the problem of the urban and rural poor that are ubiquitous within the region, as well as improving the state of their local economies. Despite this necessity, it must be noted that studies such as Cattaneo’s (2009), which examined the level of economic assistance and cooperation within the region, have cited that there exists a certain degree of economic cooperation. Given the decade that has elapsed between the creation of CEMAC and today, the degree of economic cooperation is not as high as it should be (Cattaneo, 2009). In order to address the disparity Central African states are currently experiencing between national interests and their current reality, the factors influencing the implementation of national interests of the member states must be examined.
Studies such as Piesse and Hearn’s (2012) have revealed that a significant disparity exists in resource allocation among the Central African states, wherein only 10% to 20% of the population enjoys 90% of the resources, and which relegates the remaining 80% to 90% of the population to live in poverty. Thus, from the perspective of Piesse and Hearn (2012), the national interests of the Central African states are more inclined toward the private interests of individuals who control the wealth of the country. This has serious policy implications for individual states because this means that although the outward national interests that the states in CEMAC present are for poverty alleviation and the improvement of local economic conditions, their “inward” interests are more predisposed toward the preservation of the status quo and ensuring the preservation of the business interests of those in power.
Individuals and Policy Creation
One of the categories of influence in creating foreign policy is individuals and their inherent personalities from which the concept of ideology comes into play. What must be understood is that individuals who are national decision makers (i.e., presidents, prime ministers, congress, senate) have access to and are inherent facilitators of the policy-making process that creates foreign policy (Fritz, 2004). They take into account national interests and global influences and formulate foreign policy as a direct response to these two influences.
In the case of the CEMAC member states, it takes on a decidedly different nature as studies such as Vieira and Alden’s (2011) reflect. Those studies examined the governing bodies of the Central African states where corruption is endemic. Though it may be true that corruption exists in a multitude of governments, in the case of the CEMAC member states, the degree of corruption has essentially prevented sufficient policy changes from taking effect. I will discuss this in further detail within this study.
When examining the case of regional integration in Central Africa, it is curious to note that although current literature on the subject has focused on the supposed benefits such integration would bring, it neglects to delve into the varying effects of such benefits on individual states (Vieira and Alden 2011). The last principle of realism lies in the distinction that relationships between states are determined by their comparative levels of power (one state being more powerful than the other, resulting in a more powerful state controlling the weaker state), which is derived from either their military or economic capabilities or even a combination of both. Based on this perspective, the relationship between the member states within CEMAC can be considered distinctly unequal, the extent of which I will canvass in the next few sections.
The impact of global influences, on the decisions of the state is relatively minor. Global influences take the form of various events that drive interactions between states. These can entail the resulting influence of global economic markets on local economies, wars, natural disasters, trade agreements, and a variety of other factors that occur on an international level. It must be understood that foreign-policy objectives are not static.
These objectives are becoming a dynamic response to a combination of global events in relation to a country’s national interest. For example, the United States today is no longer pursuing a foreign-policy strategy of isolationism against communism. Similarly, Russia as a transitional state no longer possesses a foreign policy that is distinctly hostile against the United States; however, it is focused more on expanding its non-military influence in the region. This influence now happens through resource allocation and distribution as seen in its use of petrol politics (the denial of resources, particularly oil or gas, in order to gain political or economic concessions) in its relationship with various countries in Eastern Europe that are dependent on Russian exports of natural gas.
As can be seen through these examples, foreign policies change over time, not only through inherent national interests, but also as a direct result of global influences that change national interests. In fact, it can even be stated that global influences play a distinct role in changing national interests (as seen in the case of the United States and international terrorism), which further shows how national interests cannot be considered the only means of directly influencing foreign-policy decisions and objectives.
When examining the sustainability of cooperation among Central African states and the subsequent impact of regional integration on trade and human migration, the examination must be done utilizing realism and liberalism to examine the difficulties in cooperation. Concurrently, it is necessary to use neoliberal institutionalism to show a potential solution to such problems in the form of creating institutions that can mitigate the concerns presented by the realist and liberalist perspective. By doing so, I will be able to present a solution to the problems that will undoubtedly arise through the process of regional integration and its impact on trade and human migration.
Comparative Case of Economic Competitiveness: Examining the (CEMAC) Member States
The Case of Gabon
An examination of Gabon reveals a relatively robust economy that is similar to that of many Middle Eastern countries in that a large percentage of the country’s GDP (often times reaching 43%) is centered on the oil industry. Rather regrettably, this has resulted in a certain overreliance on oil as a revenue generator for many local industries, resulting in industrial stagnation that is worsened by an overall lack of sufficient local entrepreneurial activity (Gabon, 2012).
It is interesting to note that by combining the work of Leifer (2000), which examined the case of Singapore within ASEAN, and that of Gabon (2012), which examined Gabon in CEMAC, a rather surprising correlation can be seen. Gabon’s willingness to be part of CEMAC and develop better trade relations is similar to that of Singapore in its desire to develop better methods of free trade among ASEAN member states (Gabon, 2012; Leifer, 2000). This inherent desire to be more open to trade is because of the lack of sufficient local industries to protect and because both countries are heavily reliant upon imports. We saw this in the case of the now defunct EU–ASEAN agricultural agreement in which Singapore pushed for free-trade relations with the EU.
This push was made despite the fact that it would negatively affect other nations within ASEAN because of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) that existed in the EU at the time, which would have inevitably resulted in agricultural product dumping if the agreement had worked. It did not, because most of the member states agreed that it would not be within their best interests to have their local markets overwhelmed by heavily subsidized foreign imports.
Considering this, it is evident that Gabon’s current willingness to engage in the lowering of tariffs is in itself not harmful. It would not be negatively impacted by the cohesion of integration, and should lower the cost of exports from other African states (Gabon, 2012). From another perspective, it can also be assumed that other states would also be willing to develop better trade relations with Gabon in the form of free trade because of the fact that Gabon’s local industries have stagnated to the point that they are not as competitive nor as robust as those found within other Central African states (Gabon, 2011).
An analysis of the econometric data from the past ten years, examining the impact of interregional trade, will shed light on the amount of imports entering Gabon. It will also help to determine the extent of its trade with other Central African states. Interviewing various managers and business owners within Gabon will enable me to determine whether regional integration has created a positive impact for the local economy as it has thus enabled the creation of a more import-oriented economy for a country that is dependent on external sources for a wide variety of local needs. It must be noted, though, that despite the fact that regional integration would enable local importers to improve their businesses, the issue of unequal distribution of income within the country remains (Gabon, 2012).
Despite the fact that Gabon has relatively abundant oil reserves, only 20% of the population enjoys 90% of the oil wealth with the remainder being relegated to poverty because of the near nonexistent trickle-down effect within the local economy (CIA: The World Factbook: Gabon, 2011). As such, in the case of Gabon, regional integration resolves not only issues related to cheaper product imports, it also opens the door for locals within Gabon to travel to other countries within Central Africa that have better opportunities because of more robust local industries.
Another factor that should be taken into consideration is the potential long-term effect this agreement would have on the local economy given the finite supply of oil within the country. Recent studies such as Witherbee’s (2011) that have examined the state of Gabon’s oil supply indicate that, by 2025, all of Gabon’s oil reserves will be depleted. This has been supported by data that show that the amount of oil produced within Gabon from its peak in 1997 (which resulted in 370,000 barrels produced per day) has gone down to 180,000 to 220,000 barrels per day (Witherbee, 2011). This is because of problems involved in extracting crude oil from ever-dwindling supplies. The problem with Gabon’s reliance on oil and the opening up of its local markets to regional exports is that this will decimate any potential for its local industries to improve to a level at which they would become regionally competitive (Witherbee, 2011). By allowing imports from countries that have more efficient and competitive industries, this would render local industries unable to compete at the same level.
Although it may be true that this can be addressed by the fact that exports from other countries within the region can encompass a wide variety of different products and may not necessarily overwhelm the entirety of the local economy, the fact remains that local companies will be affected. In the short term, those countries will prosper, but in the long term, there will be insufficient precedent for the development of local competitiveness resulting in the complete destruction of the Gabon economy once its oil reserves are entirely depleted (Witherbee, 2011). Although other countries facing the same circumstances have addressed this issue by planning for the future via infrastructure and economic development using oil wealth, such a system is unfortunately missing in the case of Gabon, with plans for an after-oil scenario barely in the works (Witherbee, 2011).
This presents a very interesting issue to look at closely. Certainly, I expect positive results for trade between Gabon and various Central African states in terms of the flow of imports into the country. In the next 20 to 25 years, however, given the current situation of Gabon, if the authorities do nothing about it, regional integration in this case would be detrimental for Gabon. Its local industries will have no possibility of developing because of being overrun beforehand (Gabon, 2012).
The Case of Equatorial Guinea
Similar to the case of Gabon, Equatorial Guinea relies heavily on its oil wealth as a means of sustaining its economy with a significant level of import reliance because of its relatively weak local agricultural sector (Badertscher, 2011). Unlike Gabon, though, the reason behind Equatorial Guinea’s rather lackluster local agricultural and industrial development is because of numerous successive brutal regimes within the country, which in effect decimated the potential for agricultural-led growth within the country with endemic corruption at various levels of the government. It must be noted, though that just because the country now currently relies heavily on its oil industry, this does not mean that it is the only major industry within the country (Badertscher, 2011). Previously, cocoa production, forestry farming, and fishing factored heavily into the GDP of the country; it was only when oil was discovered in 1996 that an abrupt shift in the economy occurred.
Recent evaluations of the country such as those by Badertscher (2011) have stated that although oil wealth has certainly helped to raise the GDP of the country to its current rank of 28th in the world, similar to the case of Gabon, the trickle-down effect is also nearly nonexistent. Only a small percentage of the population is benefitting from the wealth of the country (Badertscher, 2011). Nearly 70% of the population subsists on $2 a day with very little in the form of sufficiently competitive local industries to create an export-oriented economy (Aworawo, 2010).
Based on the above, we can conclude that regional integration in the case of Equatorial Guinea would definitely be a boon for local import markets; however, because of the relatively unequal distribution of wealth within the country, as well as the amount of demand and the ability of the local population to pay for goods and services, it is unlikely that any significant amount of demand would be realized. Not only that, but similar to the case of Gabon, its local industries also have the potential to be overwhelmed by cheap foreign imports as a direct result of the lowering of tariffs, which also presents itself as a cause for concern once the oil wealth runs out (Badertscher, 2011).
The Case of Chad
An examination of Chad reveals similarities to that of Gabon and Equatorial Guinea in that a large percentage of government revenue is derived from the oil industry with very few local industries even close to what can be considered economically competitive (CIA: The World Factbook: Chad, 2011). Aside from oil, the cotton industry also plays a role in the country’s economy, albeit at a drastically reduced rate as compared to what was seen in the early 1990s. Further examination of the country reveals that the lack of overall progress (as indicated by its status as the seventh poorest country in the world) is first due to endemic corruption in the government (a common theme seen in this examination so far). Second, there were numerous internal conflicts that have decimated the potential for any relevant agricultural, mining, or manufacturing industries to sufficiently establish themselves (CIA: The World Factbook: Chad, 2011). The local population survives through subsistence farming with an increasingly high demand for imports but little if any export market to speak of outside of oil and cotton (Weibel, Béchir, Hattendorf, Bonfoh, Zinsstag, & Schelling2011). Not only that, the country also suffers from the same isolation of income as seen in the case of Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, wherein only a small percentage of the population benefits from the oil wealth the country has—in this case, nearly 80% of the population is in severe poverty (Weibel, et al., 2011).
This perspective begs the question of what exactly Chad would derive from regional integration if it has neither sufficiently capable local industries to be export-competitive nor sufficient funds to drive an import-oriented economy.
The Case of the Central African Republic
Because of its land-locked nature, significant oil deposits have not been found within this country; as such, this has led to the development of a multitude of different industries ranging from diamond extraction and agriculture to various types of forestry activities and even cattle raising (Badertscher, 2011). Despite the fact that the country is rich in natural resources, little exists in the way of their actual utilization and subsequent impact. This is mainly because of continued instances of internal conflict within the country, which has spilled over across the borders of its neighbors, resulting in rising tensions within the region today as growing dissatisfaction over the present-day social system results in minor uprisings occurring in various regional hotspots (Background Note: Central African Republic, 2005).
Overall, the Central African Republic shows potential as a future mineral resource and agricultural exporter; however, it lacks sufficient foreign investment in order to make this a reality. I thus expect that regional integration for the Central African Republic could result in the subsequent development of local industries. This is what wealthy individuals seek in order to exploit the country’s largely untapped mineral wealth.
The Republic of Congo
Once again, a similar story can be seen in the case of the Republic of Congo, wherein 92% of its exports are based on petroleum, and only a small percentage of its local economy has developed even sufficient levels of agricultural improvement (Congo, 2011). Though the country does have potential as a diamond, gold, and metal exporter, such industries have remained relatively untapped because of government mismanagement.
The case of Cameroon
An examination of the Cameroonian economy shows several interesting features that make it quite distinctive from the other members of CEMAC. It may be true that, similar to the case of Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, the extraction of oil factors heavily in the country’s GDP. It does not, however, occupy the same level of overbearing dominance seen in the aforementioned countries; rather, oil production only makes up 40% of Cameroon’s economy with the remainder being split among the agriculture, fishery, and forestry industries. This makes Cameroon’s local economy far more internally sustainable in the end because of the diversity and strength of its local industries. In fact, its fishery industry alone harvests 20,000 tons of seafood a year with a large percentage going to various international markets such as those in South Korea.
Based on the above, I conclude that regional integration in the case of Cameroon will result in significant export boosts for Cameroon-based industries because of the import reliance of other countries within CEMAC that do not have sufficiently capable local industries to provide for the needs of their population. From this perspective, we can conclude that regional integration in the case of the CEMAC member states could be oriented more toward a form of partnership rather than direct competition because some states, such as Cameroon, could effectively provide for the needs of other countries within the region.
From this section, it is evident that the same story recurs repeatedly within most of the CEMAC member states. In those states, there is a strong reliance on the oil industry that exists. There is little in the way of sufficient development initiatives to create a diversified export market. In addition, there exists rampant poverty and social inequality, as well as considerable levels of internal conflict, which previous factors brought about. As such, from a certain perspective it can be stated that the countries within CEMAC would benefit more from partnership agreements rather than competition because their local industrial potential is far too weak to be able to compete with each other in terms of sufficiently developed localized industries that could potentially overwhelm local markets.
On the other hand, we can see that some countries have far more developed agricultural and manufacturing industries than others have (though relatively small in comparison to other states), such as in Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea. As such, the potential does exist that those countries that have better local industries would stand to gain more from regional integration than those that have very little in the way of sufficient industrial development.
It must also be noted that several of these countries are continuing to develop strategies for an after-oil scenario once their oil is exhausted. As such, many governments would view their local industries being overwhelmed by products from their neighbors as detrimental toward their long-term goal of local economic sustainability. Based on such factors, a certain degree of hesitancy has emerged toward the complete lowering of trade barriers because such an action would result in some states gaining a distinct advantage due to their relatively more robust industries, which would, in effect, create problems for any government initiatives to create a resurgence in the development of local industries.
Regional Integration and Economic Development
Regional integration refers to the economic practice wherein distinct states enter into a regional treaty or accord in order to develop regional cooperation among themselves. Typically, regional integration is achieved through a series of institutions and regulations drafted by and adhered to by all member states. Simply put, regional integration is a course of action by which an assemblage of countries frees up trade restrictions by negotiating free-trade zones or customs unions. This process thereby develops the common market among member states wherein services, goods, and capital can be freely bought and sold and individuals from member states enjoy relaxed labor, travel, and citizenship laws (Massara & Udaeta, 2010; Ohmae, 1995).
In a more complex example of regional integration, member states may introduce a standardized currency, enact uniform policies, and make some legislation uniform as exemplified by the EU (Ohmae, 1995). Since the late 20th century, the global order has radically changed. Individual borders no longer dictate economic relationships. The experience of Greece notwithstanding, the EU emerged as a clear example of the benefits of regional integration, including expanded markets and greater opportunity for trade. Additional benefits of regional integration include lower prices for consumers, enhanced security, increased economic competition, higher levels of investment (both domestic and foreign), and overall improvement in economic and social stability among member states.
Beyond this simple definition lies a host of challenges, however, particularly in a system as diverse as Africa. Member states of the EU, for example, though diverse in language and culture, are all relatively affluent Western democracies that exist geographically close together. Africa, by contrast, is a massive continent characterized by huge differences in wealth, ethnicity, terrain, religion, political systems, and access to natural resources among its millions of citizens (Africa’s Regional Institutions, 2012; Central Africa: CEMAC – Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa, 2012; Martijn & Tsangarides, 2010; Mutambara, 2009; Severino, 2001; United Nations Economic and Social Council, 2008).
The long-term goal of regional integration is ultimately economic in nature; however, the journey toward full economic integration starts with an organized regional agreement among interested parties, which is incredibly challenging in Africa (Africa’s Regional Institutions, 2012; Central Africa: CEMAC – Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa, 2012). The numerous interests located on the African continent share the common goal of devising, sustaining, and constructing an “all-inclusive African Economic Union” with the aim of promoting economic augmentation throughout the continent of Africa, as well as providing an incentive for political consistency and viable governance (Ott & Patino, 2009, p. 287). On a continent as diverse as Africa, the prospect of regional integration of its countries poses significant roadblocks to implementation (Africa’s Regional Institutions, 2012; Central Africa: CEMAC – Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa, 2012). As Otto and Patino (2009) explained:
The African Universe is marked by a high degree of diversity among its members… Africa is a vast continent with 56 countries… 50 are in the Sub-Saharan region and… 6 in North Africa. Although… geographically in the African continent… Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia and Western Sahara are commonly identified as Middle Eastern countries… The geographical distribution of the 50 countries in Africa South of the Sahara is such that 18 countries are in West Africa, 8 countries in East Africa… including the Horn of Africa… 10 countries in Central Africa, 10 countries in Southern Africa and 4 countries are Indian Ocean Islands. (p. 287)
On the continent of Africa, the acknowledged aim and purpose of economic integration is understood to be laying the groundwork for economic expansion and improved material comfort for its citizens (Africa’s Regional Institutions, 2012; Central Africa: CEMAC – Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa, 2012). As Ott and Patino (2009) noted, however, “other motives obviously cannot be ruled out: political stability, exercise of political power in the global economy, or improving the continent’s image in the international arena” (p. 285).
The World Bank has long been an advocate of regional integration plans in Africa (Africa’s Regional Institutions, 2012; Central Africa: CEMAC – Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa, 2012). In recent years, the World Bank has “significantly scaled up support… following the launch of the IDA regional financing instrument and dedicated pool of funding in 2003 and formation of the Africa Regional Integration Department in 2004” (Africa’s Regional Institutions, 2012, para. 5; Central Africa: CEMAC – Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa). Stalwart regional institutions are required to bring the African countries together and to organize national-level policy reforms, structure collective regional activities, and support the “platform, impetus and commitment mechanism for deeper integration” (Africa’s Regional Institutions, 2012, para. 4; Central Africa: CEMAC – Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa).
The main challenges are that Africa is a collection of a host of regional institutions(Africa’s Regional Institutions, 2012; Central Africa: CEMAC – Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa, 2012). At the top level, the African Union “seeks to unify the continent through a process of political and economic integration” (Africa’s Regional Institutions, 2012, para. 5; Central Africa: CEMAC – Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa). At the lower regional level, Africa’s Regional Economic Communities (RECs) are composed of “groupings of neighboring countries working together to tackle joint development issues, create free trade blocks and customs unions and ultimately form political unions” (Africa’s Regional Institutions, 2012, para. 7; Central Africa: CEMAC – Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa).
Many analysts consider Africa’s RECsas the essential “building blocks to the African Common Market” (Africa’s Regional Institutions, 2012, para. 7; Central Africa: CEMAC – Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa, 2012; Fawcett & Gandois, 2010; Hartzenberg, 2011). In addition, an arrangement of regional technical organizations has also been established to attend to “sector or geographic specific issues such as river basin, power pool and transport corridor management” (Africa’s Regional Institutions, para. 7; Central Africa: CEMAC – Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa).
Economic development in Africa is challenged by the continent’s “unique physical, economic, and political geography” (Africa’s Regional Institutions, 2012, para. 8; Central Africa: CEMAC – Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa, 2012). Political borders do not often reflect a country’s financial and natural resources and a number of countries do not have access to water for transportation, so they must rely on other forms of exchanges. In addition, “national economies and populations are generally quite small, but cover large geographic expanses with poor connective infrastructure” (Africa’s Regional Institutions, 2012, para. 7; Central Africa: CEMAC – Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa).
The continent of Africa is also comprised of a “diverse array of regional institutions promoting greater political and economic integration among neighboring countries and tackling shared resource management issues” (Africa’s Regional Institutions, 2012, para. 7; Central Africa: CEMAC – Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa, 2012). The main goal of the African Union is to bring together African countries under a common political vision and common economic market (Africa’s Regional Institutions, 2012; Central Africa: CEMAC – Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa). In addition, at the regional level, the RECs joinneighboring countries and organizations to tackle “common development challenges and deepen economic and political integration” (Africa’s Regional Institutions, para. 7; Central Africa: CEMAC – Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa). Africa’s regional technical organizations concentrate on “specific cross-border issues such as international river basin management, regional power trading and cross-border disease transmission” (Africa’s Regional Institutions, 2012, para. 11; Central Africa: CEMAC – Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa).
This literature review led me to the conclusion that improving the lives of the people in Africa through the ultimate goal of successful regional integration may occur in some countries and not in others, due in large part to the broadly divergent stages of development that exist on the continent; the advanced nature of other well-established trading blocs in the world, such as the EU and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA); the dearth of a common African currency; post-colonial traditions; and massive continent-wide debt (Danso, 1995; Ott & Patino, 2009). In addition, the continent of Africa suffers from a deeply neglected infrastructure. According to the African Development Bank (2011):
Poor communications inhibit free interstate movement of goods and services [and] are major obstacles facing continental integration. [Also], the poorly developed network of regional infrastructure, especially in transport [and] energy… and the unsuitable array of legal, institutional, and regulatory frameworks… cannot be ignored. (p. 1)
A number of scholars have viewed regional integration by a number of scholars as a means by which Africa can develop foreign direct investment and staunch the flow of migrant workers from its borders to Europe and Arab countries (Agbetsiafa, 2010; Aminian, Fung, & Ng, 2008; Aning, 2007; Castles, 2009; Cockburn & Njikam, 2011; Cyrille, 2010; Danso, 1995; Gibb, 2009; Hammouda, Karingi, Njuguna, & Jallab, 2009; Mkwezalamba & Chinyama, 2007; Ondoa & Tabi, 2011; Ott & Patino, 2009; Teague, 2003; Thomas, 2011; Tsangarides, Ewenczyk, Hulej,& Qureshi, 2009; Yang & Gupta, 2007).
Integration needs to happen at the human level before it can happen at the economic level, and according to most of the literature reviewed, competition for scarce resources and the dire poverty most of the citizens of the continent face, conspire to make trade agreements difficult to implement. Interestingly, the solution to the problem of Africa’s poverty and stalled development demands a concerted effort on the part not only of governments, but also of individual Africans to invest both economically and psychologically in the future of their home.
The Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC)
The Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC) was created in March1994 (Central Africa: CEMAC – Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa, 2012). CEMAC stands for “Communauté Economique et Monétaire d’Afrique Centrale” (Central Africa: CEMAC – Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa, 2012, para. 2). The organization was originally called the Union Douanière et Economique de l’Afrique Centrale (UDEAC) and functioned as a “customs and monetary union among the former French Central African countries… Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Congo (Brazzaville), Equatorial Guinea, and Gabon”(Central Africa: CEMAC – Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa, 2012, para. 3; Nkendah, 2010). CEMAC is one of Africa’s most vital regional organizations in addition to the Western CFA Zone (Central Africa: CEMAC – Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa, para. 3). The following countries created CEMAC:
“Cameroon, CAR, Chad, the Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon… to take over the Customs and Economic Union of Central Africa… with the main aim of promoting economic integration among the six countries that share a common currency, the CFA franc, pegged to the euro.” (Central Africa: CEMAC – Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa, 2012, para. 3; News analysis: CEMAC head expelled ahead of summit, 2012)
CEMAC’s main objectives also include “the promotion of trade, the institution of a genuine common market and greater solidarity among peoples” (Central Africa: CEMAC – Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa, para. 3; News analysis: CEMAC head expelled ahead of summit). In 1994, CEMAC introduced “quota restrictions and reductions in the range and amount of tariffs” (Central Africa: CEMAC – Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa, para. 3; News analysis: CEMAC head expelled ahead of summit, 2012). At the present, the CEMAC countries “share a common financial, regulatory, and legal structure, and maintain a common external tariff on imports from non-CEMAC countries” (Central Africa: CEMAC – Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa, para. 3; News analysis: CEMAC head expelled ahead of summit). Thus, theoretically speaking, “tariffs have been eliminated on trade within CEMAC, but full implementation of this has been delayed. Movement of capital within CEMAC is free” (Central Africa: CEMAC – Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa, para. 3; News analysis: CEMAC head expelled ahead of summit).
Recent Developments in CEMAC
When looking at the CEMAC member states, it must be noted that the policy environment within the region is rife with the controlling influences of high oil prices, oil output, and the overall appreciation of the CFA against the U.S. dollar. It is quite interesting to note that combined with increased foreign-exchange reserves, an economic growth rate that has increased by 8%, and the fact that various governments have controlled inflation, this bodes well for the economic future of CEMAC. It is rather unfortunate to note, however, that such economic developments actually resulted in significant monetary and fiscal policies for the Central African states involved in sudden regional growth. These problems appeared in conjunction with changes in oil-related inflows, as well as the need to implement common policies (similar to the case of the EU) regarding the economic performance of individual CEMAC member states.
Ever since the CEMAC treaty was drafted, the Central African states involved have been moving toward an integration policy involving economic and monetary integration. Within the region, significant improvements have occurred in macroeconomic convergence, which has resulted in greater adherence to established policies in a way that is similar to the EU. The reserves of the Banque des Etats de l’Afrique Centrale (BEAC) have increased, which has been coupled with a strengthened fiscal and external balance within the government during the past two years. Further analysis of the data reveals that the economy of the CEMAC member states as a whole grew by 3%, 5.4%, 4.5%, and 5% during the periods of 200, 2001, 2002, and 2003 respectively. This was in part due to favorable prices of oil at the time as well as significant improvements that were put into practice involving the management of public resources.
Not only that, but significant progress has occurred within other fronts in the Central African region. One interesting factor that should be taken into consideration is the adoption of a regulatory framework within the region that specifically targets micro-finance institutions. It must also be noted that bank restructuring has been proceeding rather quickly within CEMAC with the cooperation of various financial institutions helping to improve the subsequent financial rations throughout the region. One particularly interesting piece of news is the fact that the EU is currently helping the CEMAC member states to establish a regional road network that should help to connect the far-flung capitals of states in the region.
Before proceeding, it is important to note that the customs union established within CEMAC is far from functioning effectively. Overall, trade within the region is poor with imports and exports comprising 2% to 1%, respectively, of intraregional trade within CEMAC. It is rather unfortunate, but administrative corruption continues to plague this region, resulting in a distinct hindering of the travel of people and goods across borders. Intra-regional trade is still below the 10% margin needed, despite the fact that the Central African states are compared to their western counterparts. Though regional integration results in a far easier method of shipping people and goods across borders, a distinct level of corruption still exists among local authorities, which impedes the ease of travel of people and goods. Because of this, regional integration is at times not viewed as a sufficiently capable method of integration in the current global trading market.
One factor that should be taken into consideration is the volatility of oil prices and how this can affect various states within Africa that are dependent on their regional oil industries. As the price of oil goes down within the global economy, the overall competitiveness of CEMAC member states that are dependent on oil will also go down, which would result in a worsening state of external and fiscal balances for countries within the region. As such, a definite need exists to employ some form of restraint involving governmental spending with the implementation of various methods of monitoring oil reserves. This has been done in order to establish within a few years some measure of sufficient fiscal discipline and macroeconomic convergence for the countries within the region.
It is quite interesting to note that despite the fact that oil production within Chad and Equatorial Guinea will actually increase within the immediate future (i.e., within two years), the fact remains that other countries within the region, such as the Republic of Congo, Cameroon and Gabon, may in fact experience a reduction in their oil sectors, which would definitely result in an adverse effect on their local economies. Experts generally agree that regional integration must be improved within the region, especially when it comes to the creation of common external tariff rates, the development of a sufficiently capable regional stock exchange, and policies regarding methods of taxation between states. When examining this particular case from a societal perspective, it can be seen that the steady growth within the country has actually done very little to reduce the rampant poverty that exists within the Central African region.
An analysis of the wage/standard of living within the state of Congo revealed that 70% of the native population subsisted on less than a dollar in daily income despite the prolific natural resource wealth of the country. Similarly, in the countries of Cameroon and Chad, the same level of poverty can be seen with 46% and 64%, respectively, of their populations equally subsisting on the same amount seen in Congo. Overall, it is quite interesting to note that when examining the population of CEMAC, it is evident that the population suffers from severe hunger and malnutrition despite being situated in a location that has some of the richest resources on earth.
Transportation and International Trade
Representatives from CEMAC member states with backgrounds in road transport and international trade from within the Central African Sub-region CEMAC group met to brainstorm about ways to augment the transportation and transit of goods, as well as surmount challenges that have held down inter-state trade (News analysis: CEMAC head expelled ahead of summit, 2012). The International Road Transport Union, a world road transport body, said that good infrastructure:
“promotes the interests of bus, coach, taxi and truck operators to ensure economic growth and prosperity through the sustainable mobility of people and goods by road, the workshop participants are sharing experiences on best practices to boost inter-state trade and by extension the economies of the respective.” (News analysis: CEMAC head expelled ahead of summit, 2012, para. 4)
Topics of interest to CEMAC members in particular include “benefits of effectively implementing United Nations and multilateral conventions on road transport and trade strategies of developing trade in Africa” (News analysis: CEMAC head expelled ahead of summit, para. 4). Cameroon’s Minister of Transport Robert Nkili oversaw the opening ceremony and gave voice to the problems in infrastructure that the country faces where international trade and transportation are concerned (News analysis: CEMAC head expelled ahead of summit, para. 4). According to Robert Nkili:
Safety in road transport, its sustainability, as well as vibrant trade are indispensable both for sub-regional integration and the emergence of its economies. Given Cameroon’s central position in the sub-region, [the] government has been unwavering in modernizing the corridor for hitch-free transit of goods and persons and exchanges between citizens, although some difficulties persist. (News analysis: CEMAC head expelled ahead of summit, 2012, para. 5)
For CEMAC member states, “adopting a unique international control license, training road users on best practices so as to limit endemic corruption on the roads as well as limiting check-points in which transit vehicles… are needed” (News analysis: CEMAC head expelled ahead of summit, 2012, para. 6). In addition, the Deputy Secretary General of International Road Transport Union Umberto de Pretto understands that the “problem to road transport and trade within CEMAC is human” (News analysis: CEMAC head expelled ahead of summit, para. 6). Poor infrastructure and corruption are the leading obstacles (Bainkong, 2012). According to de Pretto:
“Trade and roads are inseparable. You need sufficient roads to enhance trade. If your economy takes off, you have money for more roads. We can bring training to make your managers professional so that business that drives the economy can boom,” Umberto de Pretto added. “The workshop ends today.” (News analysis: CEMAC head expelled ahead of summit, 2012, para. 6)
Alleged Corruption within CEMAC
A few weeks prior to a meeting of the six countries of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central African States, CAR President Francois Bozize expelled the top CEMAC official, Antoine Ntsimi, from his CEMAC role and barred the official from the CEMAC headquarters in Bangui, the capital city of the Central African Republic (News analysis: CEMAC head expelled ahead of summit, 2012, para. 6). Bozize remained quiet about the reasons for the expulsion and told news agencies, “[w]e believe his expulsion from CAR was just the result of a misunderstanding and he will soon be back in Bangui to resume his duties to prepare for the next CEMAC summit scheduled for May this year in Brazzaville” (News analysis: CEMAC head expelled ahead of summit, para. 6). However, corruption rumors are rampant. (News analysis: CEMAC head expelled ahead of summit, para. 6)
According to sources within CEMAC, Antoine Ntsimi “withdraws large sums of money from the CEMAC account with the Bank of Central African States… in Yaoundé, whose sums are then transferred to an account of one of Ntsimi’s sons in France” (News analysis: CEMAC head expelled ahead of summit, 2012, para. 6). These rather excessive sums of money are then “withdrawn to hire planes for his frequent journeys abroad and thus considered to be too extravagant, costing the community, one of the poorest and most backward on the African continent, hundreds of millions of CFA francs every month” (News analysis: CEMAC head expelled ahead of summit, para. 6).
The CAR former President Bozize and the CAR authorities in Bangui are, therefore, displeased with the management of CEMAC and want Ntsimi replaced with a more prudent official (News analysis: CEMAC head expelled ahead of summit, 2012, para. 6). The incident casts light on the corruption problems that plague CEMAC and other African organizations and support the analysis that many of the problems associated with the implementation of regional integration are human (News analysis: CEMAC head expelled ahead of summit, para. 6).
One of the most significant challenges regional integration faces in Africa lies in the continued competitive nature of the relationship between member states. Efforts to excise both tariff and nontariff barriers to trade have consistently faced obstacles to implementation (Economic Commission for Africa, 2008; Economic Commission for Africa, 2010). In the area of nontariff barriers in particular, several problems have arisen. According to the Economic Commission for Africa (2008), “customs officials, police roadblocks, and constant harassment by immigration officials hamper free trade” (p. 32).
Protectionism is a major cause of these impediments to implementation, and its prevalence among member states represents an ongoing concern for the regional integration process (Economic Commission for Africa, 2008; Economic Commission for Africa, 2010). Several countries within the regional integration process continue to fear that the process will rob their citizens of employment and decimate its domestic industries (Economic Commission for Africa, 2008). In Nigeria, for example, continued “efforts to protect domestic infant and/or strategic sectors and industries by imposing blanket restrictions on the importation of certain goods adversely affected” the course of trade among the West African member states (Economic Commission for Africa, 2008, p. 32). Lip service for trade liberalization continues; however, the actions of many member countries belie a commitment to trade openness (Economic Commission for Africa, 2008).
Typically, the member countries that resist trade liberalization are among the poorer countries in Africa (Economic Commission for Africa, 2010). Many of these countries consider liberal trade programs impossible to pursue in their specific cases. According to the Economic Commission for Africa (2010), the liberalization of trade “may be discouraging countries from pursuing such reforms for fear of potentially negative effects on their economy and on the poor” (p. 45). In many cases, short-term costs associated with trade liberalization are immediately offset as the economy of the country grows and more workers find more jobs; however, in developing countries, the short-term costs themselves may be viewed as too high (Economic Commission for Africa, 2010).
From the global perspective, the continent of Africa typically occupies the role of producer and exporter of primary commodities that it then exchanges for manufactured goods (Economic Commission for Africa, 2010). In the global trade arena, however, “the relative prices of primary goods have been declining at an average rate of between 0.5 per cent and 1.3 per cent per annum over the past century” (Economic Commission for Africa, 2010, p. 62); therefore, Africa’s place in global trade has been steadily dropping (Economic Commission for Africa). As Danso (1995) noted, “The purchasing power of Africa’s exports [fell] by 24 percent since 1985” (p. 36).
In the 1980s, third-world Latin American countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay, were facing similar situations as they underwent significant transformation in their trade policies with the goal of improving their economic futures (Aminian, et al., 2008).
“The Latin American countries made revisions to the trade agreements of the previous period with the idea of renewing the process of regional integration in the sense of taking into account the need of Latin American economies to compete in the international market and to improve market access for their exports.” (Aminian et al., 2008, p. 114)
This change resulted in the softening of most of the Latin American trade procedures and the implementation of “outward-oriented policies” (Aminian et al., p. 114). The Latin American economies also implemented economic stabilization programs and privatized a number of public companies. Significant modernizing and liberalizing of the Africa trade model of this type are necessary to ensure that the continent’s citizens stand a fighting chance to achieve economic prosperity (Danso, 1995; Economic Commission for Africa, 2008; Economic Commission for Africa, 2010; Ott &Patino, 2009).
Critics of regional integration charge that the process itself has been tainted by “elitism in the form of regional integration occurring only at the level of leaders without permeating the consciousness of the people” (Aning, 2007, p. 1). The extreme poverty the majority of Africans face, critics have argued, has not been factored into the plans for economic rejuvenation and recovery (Aning, 2007). In addition, these critics cited “armed conflict [as] the single most devastating challenge for the continent” (Aning, 2007, p. 1). Attention tends to be focused on the short-term goals of regional integration without attending to the very real security challenges everyday people in Africa face on a daily basis. These include the “proliferation of small arms and light weapons… food insecurity, environmental degradation, the threat of unexploded ordinance, organized crime, and public health concerns” (Aning, 2007, p. 1). Until these issues are addressed, critics posit, regional integration will continue to occur sporadically in pockets across the continent—specifically in countries that enjoy less-direct security threats—while others will stay mired in interminable armed conflict (Aning, 2007).
Regional integration also involves far more than trade liberalization. In Africa, several disparate religions hold sway, including Catholicism and Islam, and members of these two faiths number in the millions. As Gürol (2003) noted, “there are reasons for nations to be alert about the consequences of such attempts that possibly incorporate conflicting issues not economic by all means” (p. 30). Regional integration by definition creates cultural and religious integration, and in the case of Africa, this may simply not be possible to achieve (Gürol, 2003). Concerns and norms pertaining to religion and organized sects that are strongly represented as part of one African country’s culture “could lead to disputes despite all secular policies and inoffensive manners” (Gürol, 2003, p. 31). Economic concerns have a tendency to bleed into cultural concerns, especially for the deeply religious. Gürol (2003) noted:
Some religions/sects are more tolerant to sexual behavior outside marriage than others are or divorce is accepted in some while not in others. Likewise, in the case of strong political and ideological tendencies towards a certain direction, a majority of people in one country could be the uncompromising advocates of one, not much willing to tolerate the followers of the other. (p. 30)
This phenomenon, in turn, has the power to destabilize the economy and weaken the impact of any trade agreements that may have been achieved.
A recurring theme in the literature examined for this review is the security challenges that trade agreements face during their implementation phase in certain regions of Africa. (Aning, 2007) )pointed to the regions of the Greater Horn of Africa, West Africa, and the Great Lakes Region as the areas most affected by security challenges to ongoing regional integration efforts. As of 2007, a number of violent unresolved conflicts were active “in a number of African countries, including the Sudan… Darfur and Southern Sudan, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia-Eritrea, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Comoros, and the Central African Republic” (Mkwezalamba & Chinyama, 2007, p. 2).
The main security threats to trade-agreement implementation faced by Africa include local economic connections and underground trade networks that feed security challenges through the “exploitation and sale of natural resources… [including] diamonds, timber, cocoa, cotton, and coffee” (Aning, 2007, p. 2). Such commodities are then transported, sold, and made possible by insufficient or nonexistent regulatory frameworks within the country (Aning, 2007). Military networks within the affected region also heighten security concerns, particularly when they “supply weapons to combatants and the provision of training facilities to those who are willing to destabilize the region” (Aning, 2007, p. 2). Security is further hampered by complicity between political groups, smugglers, and families who operate illegal trade (Aning, 2007; Banque Africaine De Developpement Fonds Africains De Developpement, 2009).
As Aning (2007) explained, “political and economic networks provide support mechanisms and facilitate economic predation, and… networks that comprise illicit smuggling activities and cross-border family ties… facilitate trade in valuable goods” (p. 2). Security challenges therefore contribute to the competitive nature of many of the CEMAC member states, particularly when the trade is illegal (Aning, 2007).
The Case Study of Cameroon
Cockburn and Njikam (2011) conducted a study to investigate the impact of “Cameroon’s sweeping trade reforms in the late 1980s and early 1990s on the growth of firm-level productivity in the manufacturing sector” and found that trade liberalization has a negative impact on growth in certain industries and stimulates productivity growth in others (p. 279). The study’s authors utilized a two-step model to analyze the effects. In the first phase, the researchers estimated the “production function… for the pooled sample of pre-and post-liberalization periods” (Cockburn & Njikam, 2011, p. 279). Cockburn and Njikam (2011) also analyzed separate data that represented the “pre-liberalization period… 1988–1995… and the post-liberalization period… 1995–2002… using the LP approach” (p. 280). From this data, the researchers were able to derive firm productivity indexes (Cockburn & Njikam, 2011).
In phase two of the study, the researchers employed the “fixed effects approach to test for the effects of trade liberalization on firm productivity growth rates” (Cockburn & Njikam, 2011, p. 280). The productivity growth equation was initially estimated on the “pooled sample of pre-and post-reform periods” (Cockburn & Njikam, 2011, p. 280). The study’s authors then used the firm productivity indices recovered from the inference of the production function using “pooled pre-and post-reform sample periods… then on each sub-period separately… using the firm productivity measures retrieved from the estimation of the production function on each sub-period sample separately” (Cockburn & Njikam, p. 280). Others controls included “business environment, industry, firm characteristics [and] the early 1990s political instability in Cameroon” (Cockburn & Njikam, p. 280). The results of the study demonstrated the following:
A substantial difference between the estimated OLS, fixed effects, and LP production function coefficients, implying a successful elimination of simultaneity and selection bias. Concerning the LP results, and for both estimations employing the pooled sample and each sub-period sample, materials inputs have the largest output elasticity. (Cockburn & Njikam, 2011, p. 282)
According to Cockburn and Njikam (2011), the pre-liberalization period was not successful for the Cameroon manufacturing sector—measuring productivity growth—because productivity dropped (p. 282). Two sectors saw productivity decline, while three other manufacturing sectors saw a rise in productivity (Cockburn & Njikam, 2011, p. 282). As a whole, the manufacturing sector in Cameroon saw productivity gains after trade liberalization; however, this was by no means uniform across sectors. As Cockburn and Njikam (2011) explained:
The assessment of the role of specific trade-related variables in influencing firm productivity growth rates reveals three robust findings. First, the exit of less productive firms is conducive to productivity improvement. Second, there are significant firm productivity gains from outward-orientation. Finally, increases in effective protection negatively affect productivity in the Cameroonian manufacturing sector, although this second impact is much smaller than that of increasing outward-orientation. (p. 280)
The study’s results demonstrate “strong policy implications for efforts to increase manufacturing productivity in Cameroon” (Cockburn & Njikam, 2011, p. 283). Policies targeted toward decreasing the “effective protection of the manufacturing sector” appeared to boost productivity growth, according to these findings (Cockburn & Njikam, p. 283). In addition, measures to “foster outward-orientation of different industries is also conducive to an improvement in firm-level productivity growth rates” (Cockburn & Njikam, p. 283).
The researchers concluded that the results encouraged Cameroon and other African nations to pursue a course of trade liberalization (Cockburn & Njikam, 2011, p. 283); however, the study’s authors cautioned, “there remains considerable scope for refining and deepening the research agenda” (p. 283). A number of studies have posited that “trade liberalization alone in poor economies is not sufficient to achieve the development goals because of the structure of these economies and the weaknesses in their infrastructure and institutions” (Cockburn & Njikam, p. 283). In addition, supply restrictions such as “poor infrastructure, poor institutions [and] bad governance in the developing countries… and Sub-Saharan African countries… usually face matter in reaping the trade liberalization opportunities” (Cockburn & Njikam, 2011, p. 279).
The research of Ondoa and Tabi (2011) sought to examine the overall growth rate of the economy within the context of CEMAC and the state of Cameroon,. This was done through the utilization of a VAR model to analyze the relationship between economic growth, inflation, and money in circulation during the period of 1960–2007 in Cameroon. As such, it attempted to examine the mean growth rate, the rate of inflation, the stabilization of external accounts, the current attempts at fighting poverty, and the state’s development of good governance. The results of the study show that there were effective price controls in place to prevent rapid inflation over the course of a decade. A 1.9% rate of inflation was noted with a peak of 5.1% that occurred in 2006. It was noted that this peak was a direct result of increases in food and transportation services due to increased prices in the petroleum industry (Ministry of Environment and Protection of Nature MINEP, 2009).
What this study revealed was that there was a considerable level of vulnerability of the local economy to price fluctuations due to oil and gas prices due to a large percentage of the CEMAC members being oil and gas producing states. Despite measures being implemented by the Central bank of CEMAC to control inflation and encourage local growth, the relatively low rate of inflation did not result in any economic growth at all for Cameroonian economy. The results of the Ondoa and Tabi (2011) study reveal that despite an increase in circulating money within a country that is part of CEMAC, this does not necessarily result in a general price level increase. In fact, it was shown by the study that the monetary programming policy implemented by the CEMAC central bank actually hindered rather than helped the growth rate of the local economy within Cameroon (Ondoa & Tabi, 2011, p. 45). Such a factor would seem to contribute to the general “hesitance” of Cameroon to increase its level of integration with the other Central African states since its own experience with a centralized monetary authority did not bring significant returns and in fact resulted in a slowdown of the country’s growth.
Cyrille (2010) conducted a study to “investigate on the effectiveness of the liquidity effect of monetary policy actions in the CEMAC region.” Conventional wisdom suggests that a cornerstone for the central bank to stimulate the economy is to lower interest rates by increasing the supply of narrow money. To circumvent some of the difficulties inherent to the verification of this assumption, they adopted a methodology advocated by Christiano and Eichenbaum(1991), which seems appropriate in the special case of the CEMAC countries. The results they obtained indicate that the conventional wisdom holds both on an individual level and on a regional basis when the monetary aggregate measures the stance of monetary policy. Moreover, an unanticipated credit expansion causes the interest rate to decline in most of the CEMAC countries; however, both the liquidity effect and the loan effect are offset most of the time by a price puzzle or an output puzzle. In some countries, evidence of a liquidity puzzle also exists. On the other hand, identification assumptions based on the interest rate are unsuitable for an appropriate assessment of the liquidity effect in the region.
Climate change affects millions of people in Africa and has proven to be one of the main drivers of consistent human migration across the borders (African Development Bank, 2011; African Development Bank Group, 2011). The countries in Africa with the greatest climatic instability include Botswana, Zambia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi (African Development Bank, 2011; African Development Bank Group, 2011). During the past few decades, an increase in climate change has resulted in an increased occurrence of storms, flooding, and severe water shortages, all of which destroy already weak infrastructure, make food shortages more dire, and interfere or completely derail development projects underway in the region (African Development Bank, 2011; African Development Bank Group, 2011). As agriculture moves into marginal lands, more trees have been cut down, which in turn has triggered problems with the water table (African Development Bank; African Development Bank Group).In addition, these climate changes have a major impact on “biodiversity, desertification, erratic rainfall, higher temperatures and water scarcity” (African Development Bank Group, 2011, p. 13; Cornelissen, 2009). Populations that live in these affected regions tend to be adversely affected and often migrate to different regions in the search for more secure agricultural infrastructure and therefore less direct threats to their livelihoods (African Development Bank, African Development Bank Group). As the African Development Bank Group (2011) noted:
Marginal and low productivity lands tend to be occupied by the poorest farmers who typically rely exclusively on subsistence agriculture and may find too few alternatives to cope with the additional stress from climate change, generating very high social costs. (p. 13)
Estimates have indicated that “20 million African men and women are migrants outside their native countries” (International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, 2004, p. 2). Furthermore, analysts have noted that by the year 2015, “one in ten Africans may be living and working outside their countries of origin” (International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, 2004, p. 2). A large number of African citizens have left the continent and migrated elsewhere looking for work; a number settle in Western Europe, while others end up in North America and the Middle East (International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, 2004, p. 2). The migration of African citizens to other countries creates brain drain, especially in professional sectors such as “teaching and medical sectors” (International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, 2004, p. 2). In addition, the flood of citizens leaving the continent creates a “significant detrimental impact on development in Africa, [as] the region’s own labor markets is disorganized” (International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, 2004, p. 2). Migration is a major problem for many countries in Africa. It places “migrant workers in difficult circumstances and denies African countries proper control over their human resources” (International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, 2004, p. 2).
In addition, the vast majority of migrant workers remain in low-wage industries in their home countries, such as “agriculture and domestic service, where they have little or no access to job benefits or quality education and training, healthcare and housing, for them and their families” (International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, 2004, p. 3; Nkowani, 2009). Discrimination is a common problem for African migrant workers. According to the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (2004), inequitable treatment of migrant workers from Africa commonly includes the following:
- exploitation with serious pecuniary and other consequences; employers dishonoring mutually agreed contracts; prohibition from participation in trade unions; confiscation of passports, constraining their movement and any transactions; deduction of wages without consent; abusive, unsafe and unhealthy working conditions; non-payment or deferred payment of salary; denial of social security and health protection; and at worst, physical and psychological violence. (p. 2)
Implementation and Enforcement of International Standards
International human-rights protocols and international labor standards are designed to apply protective standards upon which all-migrant workers can rely (International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, 2004, p. 4). Some of these protocols include the United Nations Human Rights Conventions and the International Labor Organization’s Core Labor Standards (International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, p. 4). Though these standards are typically ratified in the region in question, they remain poorly implemented (International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, p. 4). According to the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (2004), the “rate of ratification in Africa of the specific international standards on migrant workers [is] unsatisfactory. Only 23 African countries have ratified at least one of these instruments” (p. 4). Standards of labor and labor protocols established by various RECs on the continent “call for freer circulation of labor and certain protections for migrant nationals of member States” (International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, 2004, p. 4). These standards have not yet been properly implemented, “whether in AMU, CEMAC, COMESA, EAC, ECOWAS, or SADC” (International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, 2004, p. 4; Alise & Teddlie, 2010).).
Deacon, De Lombaerde, Macovei, and Schröder (2011) conducted a study to investigate global labor developments in the context of migrant workers in Africa and to determine the steps to be taken to protect these workers in host countries. This study reviewed several examples of improvements that had occurred at the “supra-national [level] of regional social and labor policies” (Deacon, De Lombaerde, Macovei, & Schröder, 2011, p. 334). The study’s authors set out to gauge to what extent migrant workers were being considered in labor laws that apply internationally (Deacon et al., 2011). The authors found that “existing regional associations of governments and regional organizations are actually developing effective regional labor policies in different sub-regions of Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia” with the intention of protecting migrant workers in their host countries (Deacon et al., 2011, p. 335). In particular, the authors found that:
despite the fact that the development of region specific socio-economy policies was gaining ground in several states around the world… speeds are varied and generally low [and] it is difficult… to find strong correlations with indicators of regional interdependence such as trade or migration. (Deacon et al., p. 335)
In 2007, according to Deacon, De Lombaerde, Macovei, and Schröder (2011), the South African Development Community (SADC) and the International Labor Organization signed an accord designed to provide the SADC with a senior program manager whose “function is to coordinate labor and employment programs within the SADC secretariat” (p. 335). This role, the researchers found, would be instrumental in helping the South African Development Community undertake the following key activities designed to address the problem of migration flows out of the country and migrant-worker abuse in host countries:
Development of monitoring and evaluation mechanisms/instruments of the SADC standards on employment and labor; setting up of a regional labor market information system; development of monitoring and evaluation mechanisms in the implementation of the Declaration and Plan of Action for Promotion of Employment and Poverty Alleviation in Africa and of the SADC Policies, Priorities and Strategies on Employment and Labor; and capacity building to enhance gender mainstreaming in employment policies and promotion of women empowerment in the sub-region. (Deacon et al., 2011, p. 336)
According to Deacon et al. (2011), a task force comprised of the ministers of labor from South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, and Lesotho that took place in March 2008 directly addressed the issues of “social protection and employment and labor” for migrant laborers from these countries (p. 336). The study’s authors noted that in spite of this positive sign, “no dialogue is currently taking place between the SADC Department for Trade and Investment and the Labor Directorate” (Deacon et al., 2011, p. 336).
The study raised some key issues about the lack of integration and communication between organizations charged with the regulatory function of labor across national and international borders (Deacon et al., 2011). For example, the researchers noted the lack of cohesion between labor bodies, finding that “[t]he task force on regional economic integration does not meet with the task force on labor issues. Furthermore, the Trade meetings between SADC and the European Union on the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) do not involve the Labor Ministers” (Deacon et al., 2011, p. 336).
African Union Labor Affairs
In 2008, the African Union’s commissioner for labor and social affairs prepared a draft to be offered at the inaugural meeting of the Ministers of Social Development that took place in Namibia. As Deacon et al. (2011) noted:
The process leading to the draft to be tabled at the meeting was interesting because of the tension which arose between a wish on the part of the Commissioner to draft an African social policy as distinct from an ILO, UNICEF or an EU social policy on the one hand and the actual involvement of some of these Northern based players in the drafting process on the other. (p. 336)
The report covering the period May 2008 through June 2009 of the African Union was noteworthy, , because it set about “addressing the issues of employment and labor in the region. [However,] although these achievements are worth mentioning, there are no clear specifications of the mechanisms under which these declarations are implemented” (Deacon, et al, 2011, p. 336).
The Southern African Trade Union Co-ordination Council, a trade union organization comprised of government, business, trade union leaders, and representatives in the region, included a social charter to address issues of key relevance to migrant workers in the region. According to Deacon et al. (2011), this new charter addressed some pressing concerns for the migration flows of workers between countries andpresented methods that would “contribute to productive employment, facilitate labor mobility, and ensure regional cooperation in collection of labor market data” (p. 337). Labor data for migrant workers flowing between countries is especially sparse and difficult to come by, and as the researchers point out in this study, the labor bodies involved do not have the mandates to approve or enforce labor laws. As Deacon et al. (2011) explained:
Although SATUCC is considered as the strongest regional voice calling for regional cooperation, its capability to establish a tri-partite role in SADC is limited. This limitation is because even if SADC is structured as a supra-national body, it does not have binding law-making powers and controlling judicial institution. (p. 336)
Despite these limitations, Deacon et al. (2011) noted that a significant achievement of SATUCC is “the development of a Social Charter of Fundamental Rights of Workers in Southern Africa, which is ratified by nearly all SADC countries” (p. 336).
How these rights will be enforced remains to be seen. In East Africa, a regional organization known as the East African Trade Union Council (EATUC) oversees labor issues including “the ratification of international labor standards by the member states and the harmonization of labor law” (Deacon et al., 2011, p.338). The East African Trade Union Council is one of many trade union organizations in the region affected by migration flows and migrant worker issues. The Economic Community of West African States represents another trade union organization that “encourages the harmonization of labor laws and social security legislation” (Deacon et al., 2011, p.338). Member states include Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Nigeria, and Togo (Deacon et al., 2011). As Deacon et al. (2011) found, one of the most important results of the meetings that have occurred between regional labor organizations is the flow of dialogue and the understanding that migrant labor problems affect all of these countries equally. The countries represented agreed to:
A comprehensive set of recommendations for an ECOWAS Labor Policy in line with ILO policy and based on consultations with ILO colleagues in Geneva. It also calls for a Regional Social Fund. It makes a strong case that the Organization pour l’Harmonisation en Afrique du Droit des Affaires (OHADA) draft labor law might be a possible model for parts of an ECOWAS labor policy. (Deacon et al., 2011, p. 336)
In 2005, Ghana hosted the second annual meeting among the Civil Society Organizations, the Economic Community of West African States, and the West African Civil Society Forum (Deacon et al., 2011). However, a number of problems arose (Deacon et al., 2011). While the West African Civil Society Forum was “designed to have the role of an advisory body and partner” of the West African Civil Society Forum, the main problems of migrant labor—those that pertained the employment issues and standards of labor—were not covered by the West African Civil Society Forum due to financial limitations (Deacon et al., 2011, p. 337).
Instead, the West African Civil Society Forum’s agenda was limited to “Democracy and Good Governance, and Peace and Security” (Deacon et al., 2011, p. 337). The direct mandate for labor issues is no longer the organization’s purview (Deacon et al., 2011). The council of ministers that belong to CEMAC took on a set of regulations in 2006 that outlined the “creation, composition and functioning of the sub-regional Tripartite Social Dialogue Committee” (Deacon et al., 2011, p. 337). The main components of the CEMAC tripartite committee include “the reinforcement of social dialogue within CEMAC, free movement of workers and fundamental principles and rights at work” (Deacon et al., 2011, p. 337). The agreement further specifies that “[t]he main mission of the Committee is to contribute to the consolidation of the process of social negotiation with a view to preventing and managing social conflicts” (Deacon et al., 2011, p. 337). This CEMAC committee, which is composed of the labor ministries of all of the CEMAC member states and meets once a year, therefore, has the power to implement real and lasting change for migrant workers in Africa and its citizens who travel beyond its borders looking for work.
Summary and Conclusion
Overall, this section has examined the sustainability of cooperation among Central African states and the subsequent impact of regional integration on trade and human migration. It has shown how an examination involving CEMAC must be done utilizing realism and liberalism to examine the difficulties in cooperation and at the same time how it should utilize realism and liberalism to examine difficulties in cooperation. This can come in the form of examining current economic and domestic policies, foreign policy objectives and other such policies that impact policy creation. It should also be noted that this section has elaborated on the trade history between the various CEMAC member states, its impact over the past two decades, and what this means for regional integration. Concurrently, it has also been shown that it is necessary to use neoliberal institutionalism to facilitate the creation of institutions that can mitigate the concerns presented by the realist and liberalist perspectives. By doing so, this study will be able to present a solution to the problems that will undoubtedly be brought up by the study of the impact of regional integration on trade and human migration progresses. Thus, I have attempted to provide a better understanding of the theoretical, economic, and historical factors that affect regional integration in Central Africa.
A key finding from the literature review of this study is the fortitude of CEMAC member states in their commitment to the pursuit of regional integration. Many problems and challenges persist, such as slow growth in the economy and the low rate of foreign direct investment. Many of these problems occur at the human level, as exemplified by corruption issues even at the highest levels of government. Much has been accomplished, and while intense competition still exists among the member states for resources, there are clear examples in which the member states have initiated partnerships designed to further the goal of economic improvement for Africa and its citizens.
The purpose of this study is to investigate the impact of regional integration on the social lives of the people within the Central African states (Bergman, 2010). According to Bryman (2012), Denzin (2012), and Leech, Dellinger, Brannagan and Tanaka (2010) on their research methods findings, this study will focus on the use of mixed research methods, which will consist of qualitative and quantitative research paradigms to answer the main research question on the social change that is caused by regional integration.
The number of participants will be 1000 and the respondents will be from the different states, which constitute the Central African states. The methodology is discussed below.
Setting of the Study
It was deemed appropriate to conduct the study within the Central African States consisting of Angola, Gabon, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Saotome Principe, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad, and the Central African Republic. The scope is to determine the impact regional integration has had on the social lives of the people within the States. The central African states are bound by economic activities, which include agriculture, fishing, oil, and mining. Statistical data shows that most of the rural populations in the countries are very poor people, who face a myriad of problem such as chronic food shortages, poor communication infrastructure, and low mortality rates. The people within the region have, to a significant extent, similar cultural orientation because of the historical movement of the people within the region. The people have common arts, beliefs, music, and marriage rituals. The total population within the region is over 50 million people. The total land mass is quite large and the dynamics of development in the form of critical infrastructure including road and air transport is growing at a moderate rate. The growth rate of information technology Infrastructure is at its early stages, but growing rapidly from the cities into the rural areas, which will affect the recruitment method of the participants and the acquisition rate of primary data for the research (Onwuegbuzie, Johnson & Collins, 2009).
The recruitment method for the participants of this study will utilise the methods which will be discussed later in this paper. This section will detail the population set from which they will be selected. On average, the population of the Central African states in this study lacks in both educational capacity and monetary resources. This is because of the minimal trickle-down effect, where a large percentage (80% to 90%) of the region’s wealth is isolated to a select few groups within their respective societies. In addition, public utility expenditures and budget allocations for educational programs are among the lowest in the world. When combined, those factors result is the creation of a population set that is not aware that they have been denied their rightful share of their country’s resources (Onwuegbuzie, Johnson & Collins, 2009).
The research question is: what is the impact of regional integration on the social lives of people within the block of Central African states? What social changes have been brought within the Central African States because of regional integration? To answer the research questions, the following study design will be used (Onwuegbuzie, Johnson & Collins, 2009).
The basis of this study is to explore the impact of regional integration on the social lives of the people under the umbrella of the Central African States. The variables are in terms of cultural reorientation, economic convergence, leadership patterns, economic reforms, agriculture, education and innovation, technological improvement, land reforms, improvement of social services, natural development policies, and enhanced social services (Onwuegbuzie, Johnson & Collins, 2009). The elements of socio-cultural change in this case include improvement in public health, education, technology, urbanization, medicine, population growth, and industrialisation. Those variables provide the basis for understanding the changes in social lives (Onwuegbuzie, Johnson & Collins, 2009).
A continuum of research methods underpin the approaches used to inquire into the philosophical assumptions of the impact of regional integration on the social lives of the people within the central African states. Knowledge claims that regional integration could bring about social changes and the claims will be justified based on the use of primary and secondary sources of data. The quantitative research paradigm forms the cornerstone of this research and will address the problem of personal bias toward the subjects involved in the research and justify the stated hypothesis (Johnson & Onwuegbuzie, 2004). The solutions of the study will draw on the use of numerical data analysis, which is an outcome-based paradigm to understand whether regional integration has caused any social changes within the regional block of countries.
The qualitative paradigm will draw on interpretive practices, which transforms the study into a series of observations, photographs, observations, interviews, and conversations. The approach will provide a detailed description of the attitudes, beliefs, case histories, and information from secondary sources to understand the actual impact of regional integration on the societies within the central African States. Here, the grounded theory is the most appropriate, which offers a set of flexible strategies to address the research questions. The entire model of the qualitative paradigm relies on the cardinal principle of the casual relationship between variables, which are used in the study.
On the other hand, the use of the qualitative methods is subject to contention because “multiple constructed realities abound, that time and context free generalizations are neither desirable nor possible. The research is value bound, that it is impossible to differentiate fully causes and effects, that logic flows from specific to general and that the one who knows and the known cannot be separated because the subjective knower is the only source of reality” (Johnson & Onwuegbuzie, 2004). The entire sum is to use the mixed methods paradigm to explore the answers to the research questions. Here, “Mixed methods are inherently neither more nor less valid than specific approaches to research. Validity stems from the appropriateness, thoroughness and effectiveness, which use those methods and the care given to the thoughtful weighing of the evidence from the application of a particular set of rules or adherence to an established tradition” (Terrell, 2012).
The mixed methods will rely on the pragmatist paradigm and combines both the qualitative and quantitative paradigms by focusing on thematic and statistic data analytic techniques. The rationale for using the method is to explore exhaustively the relationship between social change and regional integration based on the concepts of the grounded theory. Here, evaluation of studies based on both implicit and explicit strategies will provide sufficient ground to answer the research questions” (Terrell, 2012). The quantitative-qualitative continuum is widely accepted as the core of a holistic paradigm. The approach will allow for objectivity, external and internal validity, and reliability of the study based on primary and secondary sources of data. A clear presentation of facts from the constructivist and positivism approaches based on exploratory sequential design where an embedded design of both QL and QN methods are used will underpin the mixed method research design. The study adopted the mixed research method to bridge the gap between the qualitative and quantitative paradigms. The approach enables the study to overcome the ontological, epistemological, and axiological weaknesses inherent in both paradigms to offer the research an empirical source of knowledge (Tanentzap, Bazely & Lafortezza, 2010).
The role of the researcher
The primary role of researcher in this study is to recruit participants of the study, issue questionnaires, conduct the interviews, make observations, collect data and other forms of feedback, ensure and aggregator of data. The researcher will be the primary point of contact when negotiating with the appropriate educational institutions, companies, government agencies, among other sources of data to obtain the required subject data from the participants of the study. During each individual interview/questionnaire distribution, the researcher will communicate with the research subjects through a hired interpreter for those who speak other languages not understood by the researcher.
The possibility of bias will be expected to occur because of some problems will occur due to the language barriers and subsequent translation, it is expected that through communication and collaboration with the interpreter, some relevant means of effective data recording can be accomplished. The issue of interpretation bias will be overcome by using different interpreters to obtain a consensus about the information provided by the participants. In order to prevent the problems of unethical manipulation of the data, the interpreter will handle the interpretations of data and ensure that the data and information have grammatical consistency to ensure effective results.
The approach will ensure that data is collected in accordance with proper academic ethical standards. In addition, prior to the study and the start of the data-collection process of data through interviews, the researcher will be expected to play the role of f a teacher, instructor, ad guide to ensure that the respondents are properly coach on the purpose. The various terminologies used in the study will be explained properly to avoid any bias setting into the study. This particular aspect of the data-collection process is necessary because of the potential that the translated data may not properly conform to the appropriate levels expected outcomes of a doctorate-level thesis.
The translator will be appropriately informed on the research approaches to reduce the chances of errors in the collection of data being experienced.
Sampling strategy and procedures
The approach used to select the sample population is the stratified random sampling technique (Onwuegbuzie, Johnson & Collins, 2009). The rationale of using the approach is that the population being investigates in finite because they are countable. Here, the numbers of variables are easily distinguished to include agricultural development, the number of educational faculties, health centers, and other variable of interest will be draw from the entire population (Leech, Dellinger, Brannagan & Tanaka, 2010).
A preliminary investigation shows that the population of interest will consists of the people within the central African states who are affected by the implementation of the regional integration elements. Both qualitative and quantitative population samples will be collected for the study (Onwuegbuzie, Johnson & Collins, 2009). The procedure will include Stratified Random Sampling will be based on theories surrounding the stratified sampling method. The sample units will be specified and consists of educated and undedicated people, farmers, employed and unemployed people, and teachers among others. A random sampling method will be used to determine the sample size, and the operational methods of the sampling plan will be defined. Here, the methods will answer the questions on who will be interviewed, who will be issued with a questionnaire, and the call back procedure of the participants (Resnik, 2010).
To ensure that the sample design is of good quality, the approach used to select the sample for the study will ensure and verify the fact that the sample is goal oriented, measurable to ensure that the results provide valid computations, and the right estimates of the sampling variability. A good sample is defined by an accurate degree of practicability to ensure that the interviews and questionnaires provide accurate results f the study. The objectives of the study have to be achieved within the budget of the study.
The use of stratified random sampling is because the approach is accurate, has better operational efficiency and the estimator of the population is simple in the presence of a population, which is heterogeneous (Onwuegbuzie, Johnson & Collins, 2009). It is possible to prepare the population into strata which posses the same characteristics and the number of observations can be collected from the strata using probability sampling approaches. In addition, the approach is cost effective because it allows the researcher to collect a small sample for the population and accurately represent the entire population (Onwuegbuzie, Johnson & Collins, 2009). The approach allows the researcher to conduct an analysis of any subgroup within the population sample, which reflects the accurate behavior of the entire sample (Tashakkori & Teddlie, 2010). In addition, the approach is cheaper, the sample survey is small, more detailed information can be accessed, and the quality of interviews and observations can be guaranteed.
The instruments to use include questionnaires, interviews and observations for both qualitative and quantitative approaches. To ensure the research instruments provide the required results, the research will ensure that the questions are written in a clear and unambiguous language, and the questions are designed to provide a single answer to a single question (Bryman, 2012). In addition, research questions are objective and of good and accurate grammar. It is important for the researcher to ensure that they provide qualifying terms to be used to design the research questions and ensure that accurate use of descriptive terms define the questionnaire design. The researcher should ensure that no double negatives terms are used to write questions, no double barreled questions, use words, which emphasise a question, remove any unwarranted assumptions, and provide the provision for the systematic qualification of responses. In addition, interviews will be conducted on a face to face basis based on a purposeful approach to verify if the benefits of regional integration have caused any social changes. Different types of interviews including standardised, statured, unstructured, telephone, email, and other convenient methods will be used (Bryman, 2012).
The quantitative components of the study include use of statistical analytical methods and specific measurable questions.
On the other hand, availability of, time, resources, purpose, and area of interest will influence the variables of interest to be used. The goal is to ensure that the variable of the study can be quantified to provide real time reflection of the situation on the ground being investigated.
The subjects of the study will be selected randomly and assigned the questions and interviews to validate the approach used to conduct the study. In addition, the study will be used to evaluate various input data and evaluate the outcomes of the study to justify the need for the study (Bergman, 2010).
A pilot study will be conducted to provide preliminary data and information on various issues associated with the study. Those issues include determining the accuracy of the study, the appropriateness of the study approach, the accuracy of the research instruments, the feasibility of the study, the research protocol to use, establishing preliminary logistical problems, and to estimate the likely outcomes to help in ensuring that the sample size is the most appropriate one. Other issues include determining that the level of intervention is correct, validity and reliability if the results are ensured (Bergman, 2010). The study will focus on the use of in-depth interviews, questionnaires, and observations.
Threats to validity
The study will ensure that all forms of validity are adhered to, including content validity, construct validity, criterion validity, and that the consistency of data will be maintained. To ensure the validity of data is maintained, the test and retest methods will be used to verify the validity of data and the use of rationale equivalence will provide addition measured of validity. The approach could address the threats to validity, which include entry errors, poorly designed questions, double barreled questions, and bias in administering questions.
Issues of trustworthiness
The issues of trustworthiness include the need to ensure that the results are dependable and can provide accurate answers to the research questions. Other issues include the ability to confirm that the results portray the right information on the research study, and that the findings are credible. In addition, accurate results are transferable and can be replicated in other areas of study with similar challenges and problems. When the elements of transferability, dependability, conformability, and credibility are compounded, the net result is trustworthiness. To ensure the results meet the trustworthiness criteria set above, the study will focus on the use of reliable instruments and conduct a pilot study to assess the reliability and dependability of the research instruments on the pilot study. The results are a prerequisite of assessing the validity of the research findings.
Anderson (2004) noted that research that is performed in a rigorous manner can lead to more effective practices than decisions based mainly on intuition, personal preferences, or common sense. Based on this, I will utilize the views garnered through the interviews that will be conducted along with econometric data in order to develop a sufficient platform from which effective and, above all, accurate conclusions can be developed. The data-collection process will be straightforward—several weeks prior to leaving for the Central African region, I will utilize the Internet in order to find businesses, schools, government institutions, and a variety of other appropriate establishments that appear to be effective locations where the appropriate type of data can be collected.
Enlisting the services of a language school (or Google Translate if a language school does not have the appropriate type of services), I will compose an introduction letter in both English and the local languages and dialect of the selected region in order to inform the organization of my intent and whether it would be possible to conduct a series of interviews based on an attached questionnaire in order to examine the impact of regional integration on trade and human migration of CEMAC member states. By asking permission prior to the data-collection procedure, I will not waste time in having to contact the necessary organizations upon arrival and can immediately proceed in collecting the data. Prior to arriving, I will also conduct a search for a local translator to help in the overall process of communicating with the research subjects. The interviews will be conducted individually to ensure their alignment with the aforementioned anonymity of the study results.
It will also be necessary to assure the participants of the safe storage of information before the interview begins to encourage them to give genuine answers. I determined that responses would be more favorable if the interview is conducted privately. This approach will mitigate accommodation costs, thus making the project more cost effective. After collecting and analyzing data, the final report, together with recommendations, will be presented to the study participants via e-mail in order to show the impact of their opinions and ensure that responses were utilized in compliance with views that the participants intended to give out and are completely anonymous, thus preventing any possible victimization.
The questions for the interviews were based on an evaluation of the research questions and the data and arguments presented in the literature-review section. My aim was to develop the questions in such a way that they build upon the material utilized in the literature review. Thus, the questions place a heavy emphasis on confirming the data in the literature review, reveal the current state of the SME sector from the perspective of entrepreneurs and members of the local financial sector, and determine what factors influence the financing of business startups.
As explained earlier, the methodology I will utilize for this study will be comprised of an evaluation of questionnaire results given to a variety of entrepreneurs, local merchants, job seekers, police officials, and so on within the CEMAC member states in order to assess their experiences related to regional integration.
I created the following questions based on an assessment of the research design, the data needed, and how pertinent they would be in terms of the participants’ actually being able to answer them. The research questions will be divided into different sets based on the type of respondent with whom I was able to get in contact. This results in the creation of a questionnaire for entrepreneurs, businessmen, and others involved in local finance, while the other set of questionnaires will encompass questions for job seekers, academics, policemen, and those who frequently travel among the CEMAC member states.
The questionnaire shown below may differ from the one utilized during the research process because of the necessity of translating the material. The subject and context of the research questions utilized will remain the same with a few alterations based on the discretion of the translator.
The first set of questions that will be given to the research subjects encompassing entrepreneurs and business owners will be comprised of the following:
This set of questions determine the level of impact CEMAC has had (if any) on local businesses in terms of the easing of restrictions on the transport and sale of goods and services beyond borders.
- Within the past ten years, how has regional integration affected your business? Has it helped in some way or has trade been the same?
- When it comes to importing or exporting certain products, has regional integration made it easier or harder to trade certain goods?
- Have there been any significant improvements you have observed that have resulted in better business conditions for you?
- Has the flow of capital within the region been easier or harder as a direct result of regional integration?
- Have you been able to able to import/export goods or services to/from other CEMAC states within the past decade or have there been factors aside from access to capital that have prevented you from doing so?
- Have you noticed any specific business trends in your local industry or other industries involving significant levels of export/imports to/from other CEMAC countries within the past decade?
- How has taxation affected your capacity to import/export goods both locally and abroad?
The outcome of these research questions will reveal the general state of trade between individual CEMAC countries and whether there has been a perceived difference by local business owners, which would translate into CEMAC encouraging trade, or if there has been no perceived difference, which would show CEMAC has had little effect (Lipowski, 2008).
Note: The results and interpretation of these questions do take into consideration the pre-existing trade between the various CEMAC countries and is attempting to determine whether greater amounts of trade have been brought about since the creation of CEMAC.
This set of questions will focus on the issue of labor and whether business owners have perceived a greater ease of acquiring foreign skilled labor or if there are still problems.
- What percentage of your current workers are natives of your country?
- Has regional integration made it easier or harder for you to acquire adequate workers?
- Has migration policy remained the same since the establishment of CEMAC or has a significant degree of progress occurred in terms of enabling people to more easily enter or exit your country who are looking for work during the past few years?
- What recent trends in foreign labor hiring practices have you observed in your current industry or in other industries within your country?
- What procedures has your country implemented in order to facilitate the hiring of immigrants?
- Do you think the hiring of foreign workers is more feasible in the current trade and immigration environment of CEMAC or do you believe that hiring locally helps to reduce problems related to increased paperwork and the possibility of your workers suddenly being deported?
The outcome of these research questions will reveal whether immigration policies through CEMAC have resulted in a greater level of accessibility for business owners of foreign labor or if CEMAC has been ineffective resulting in fewer foreign laborers.
This set of research questions will reveal the general opinion of tradesmen within CEMAC regarding regional integration in general.
- Do you generally agree with the concept of regional integration? Please elaborate on your answer.
- When it comes to exports, have you noticed any changes as of late as a direct result of regional integration?
- What would you like to see improved with respect to regional integration? Please elaborate on specific actions, factors, policies, developments, etc., that, in your opinion, would facilitate better trade.
The outcome of these research questions is intended to encompass any factors that were not covered by the other questions that were already put forth by the researcher.
The following set of questions is meant for laborers or those who travel in between the CEMAC member states:
This set of research questions will reveal the current experiences of laborers or travelers between the CEMAC member states.
- As a result of regional integration, has travel between the borders of the CEMAC member states been easier?
- Have you noticed any significant increases in trade-related travel?
- Is it easier for people looking for jobs to travel between CEMAC member states?
- Has there been an increase in migration as a direct result of regional integration?
- Has regional integration resulted in an equal distribution of job opportunities for all the CEMAC member states, or does one state present itself as having more opportunities than others have?
- As an employee/job seeker, have you encountered increasing amounts of job opportunities within your home state, or do you believe other states have higher rates of job creation?
- What problems have you encountered when it comes to traveling among CEMAC member states?
- Based on your own personal experience, has regional integration actually resulted in better trade and human migration, or is it the same as it was ten years ago?
The outcome of these research questions is meant to examine the general experience laborers and travelers have had when it comes to the ease of migration from one CEMAC member state to another.
Due to the potential for uninitiated citizens (i.e., uninformed and with no direct academic knowledge about regional integration) of the CEMAC member states, to see the direct effects of regional integration it will be necessary to develop a means of formulating interview questions in such a way that the responses would be more attenuated towards what the respondents would know.
It is based from this perspective that this dissertation will utilize the following measures in order to better manifest the desired results of the study:
- Analysis of Observations on Family and Acquaintance Migration: In this aspect of the study, I will question the research participants involving their knowledge of migration patterns among their family members and acquaintances in and among the member states of CEMAC. These questions will primarily focus on whether their family members have recently migrated to other CEMAC states for better opportunities, whether their current friends and acquaintances are local or are from other CEMAC member states, and are arriving due to better opportunities, as well as their general knowledge regarding the ease of migration from one state to another. Through these questions, I will be able to determine whether the ease of migration among Central African states has improved within the past few years or if regional immigration continues to be a problem despite the establishment of CEMAC.
- Analysis of the Impact of Regional Integration based on Food Availability and Price: Another method of determining the perceived impact of regional integration at the local level is to examine the perception of the local citizenry towards price changes and food availability within their local markets. In cases where regional integration has been successfully implemented, this often results in an easing of market restrictions enabling food from various regions to enter into local markets at lower prices, which would benefit consumers. It is based on this that another means of examining the impact of regional integration would be to determine how local prices have changed ever since the establishment of CEMAC and whether local residents have seen such changes. Examples of questions examining this particular aspect are: would you say that there has been a greater level of product availability within the past five years? Have prices of goods from countries such as Cameroon and Gabon become cheaper or more expensive (taking into account normal inflation)? Have there been any significant changes in the prices and availability of food within the past few years? Are prices the same throughout the region or are their significant price shifts within border regions? It is this and other such question that will enable me to determine whether there has been a sufficiently positive impact at a local level to warrant labeling the establishment of CEMAC as a success.
Analysis based on the Ease of Business and Financial Transaction: This final method of analysis focuses more on businesspeople and entrepreneurs rather than local citizens. In this respect, I will examine whether the establishment of CEMAC has enabled local businesses to thrive due to greater ease of access into regional markets or whether it is business as usual and there have been no significant changes within the past decade. Questions examining this subject would be framed as follows: Has exporting or importing products into or from other Central African states been easier or more difficult as of the establishment of CEMAC? Would you say that you have been focusing on establishing footholds into other regional markets or have you found it more difficult? Will you continue focusing on local markets or are regional markets more appealing?
Evaluating the Questionnaire Responses
Two methods may be used to score the responses: raw score and relative score. Both will be used for comparison in the study. The raw-score method is a simple sum of the responses within each scale. This involves merely examining which responses seem similar to each other and which are widely divergent. The relative-scoring method compares scales for relative contribution to the overall score. The relative proportion for each scale is found by dividing the individual mean score for the scale by the combined means for all scales. Unlike other types of questionnaires administered through similar studies, this questionnaire does not utilize a score or point system wherein responses are limited to a set amount (e.g., picking from a set of 4, 5, 6).
The reason behind this is quite simple; I am attempting to gauge the individual accounts of the research subjects in the form of data, which involves their own personal accounts and experiences regarding regional integration. For example, question three reads: “Have there been any significant improvements you have observed that have resulted in better business conditions for you?” This question is an example of an important examination of changing business conditions within the Central African region as a direct result of regional integration. As such, the resulting answer cannot be quantified.
One must note, though, that the researcher did take into consideration the use of a generalized research questionnaire form; however, based on the necessity of personal responses, I deemed it a method that would divulge the type of data needed given the necessity of examining individual experiences at the local level.
I will also use thematic analysis to identfy themes. Patton (2002) described this type of analysis as inductive analysis and stated that most qualitative analysis is inductive in the early phases, when the researcher is trying to identify categories, patterns, and themes. As such, I expect that by utilizing the process of reading and re-reading the data, emerging themes within the collected data sets can be identified. Fereday and Muir-Cochrane (2006) pointed out that thematic analysis can help the researcher to demonstrate rigor. Having other individuals review the transcripts will enable different individuals to form themes from the data (Golafshani, 2003).
When the reviewers have completed their reviews of all the interview data, they will come together as a group, present and discuss their identified categories and themes derived from the data, and identify the main common themes. I will then review these main themes and use this information to assist in establishing the key findings of the study.
This method of data analysis is appropriate for a qualitative design studies. Patton (2002) discussed several competencies involved in thematic analysis. One such competency is pattern recognition—the ability to see patterns in a wide array of information. Content analysis involves searching the data for common words or themes. I will use both of these competencies to identify common themes.
Data analysis plan
The use of SPPS will provide the basis for analysing quantitative data and a scorecard will be used to anayse qualitative data. To ensure the data is of good quality and error free, it will be checked by different people using different applications to enter the data and anayse it to provide the final sample which will be assumed to be correct.
Data Analysis using SPSS
The data-analysis program known as SPSS for Windows will be used for purposes of analyzing the quantitative data. The basic initial steps will include data coding, entry, cleaning, analysis, and interpretation. Univariate analyses aimed at generating frequency distributions and descriptive analyses will be used to compare the economic growth of the CEMAC member states, the rate of human migration, and increases or decreases for trade occurring between the various countries involved in this study. The data resulting from the frequency distributions will be further harnessed and presented using pie charts, tables, and bar graphs in order to more succinctly present the data for this study. The data from the study will also be analyzed using t-tests and MANOVA in order to identify correlations between trade and human migration patterns during the past ten years. Hierarchical multiple regression analysis will also be conducted with economic conditions acting as the moderator.
Reliability and Validity
Shank (2006) explained that the researcher must present the findings of qualitative research in written form. The identified themes will be presented along with implications. Because I will be using the interview process to obtain the information, the data reporting will include narratives of responses expressed by the individuals on their attitude about the impact of regional integration on trade and human migration. The method of storytelling may also be used as an effective way to present a scenario offered by one or more of the interviewees.
Handley (2005) noted that reliability in any research process implies that the same set of data would have been collected each time in repeat examinations of the same variable or phenomenon. To increase the reliability of the study findings, I will certify that items incorporated in the survey schedule will only capture data that are of interest to the broader objectives of the study. The range of measurement of the sets of the survey schedules will also be adjusted upward to enhance internal consistency of the study findings. In addition, I will utilize multiple indicators to ensure the collection of objective, unabridged data.
Handley (2005) determined that validity is a measurement that is used to describe a measure or instrument that correctly reflects the variable or phenomena it is intended to evaluate, thus reinforcing the conclusions, assumptions, and propositions made from the analysis of data. Internal validity, which denotes the soundness of a study or investigation, will be achieved through the establishment of a framework for the application of effective sampling techniques and employing a validated and reliable survey schedule for the proposal of data collection. The same procedures in combination with the recruitment of a representative sample size will be used to achieve external validity, thus ensuring that the study findings can be generalized to other settings.
For this reason, the involvement of other professional colleagues to review the data will contribute to the validity of the study. I will determine the validity and integrity of the study with the appropriate attributes of trustworthiness, rigor, and quality. Trustworthiness is the degree to which the reader can trust the findings (Shank, 2006). Shank pointed out that trust is not really established but is rather built and nurtured. I will first try to cultivate trust among the study participants by conveying to them that the research goal is simply to determine how they feel about regional integration, as well as its impact on their daily lives. I will emphasize to the participants, verbally and via the informed consent form, that there are no ulterior or personal motives with this research project.
The rigor of the study must be evident when I present my findings. A rigorous study is designed, conducted, and analyzed properly (Shank, 2006). I will demonstrate the study’s rigorous design by reporting in the method section that the study was developed with the expert guidance of University faculty, was reviewed, and approved by the institutional review board, and that the study was conducted by closely following the approved design. According to Fereday and Muir-Cochrane (2006), rigor may be demonstrated through the process of thematic analysis. A comprehensive process of data coding and identification of themes must be used. I will select an appropriate template approach from the literature to assist with data analysis.
The quality of the study must be high in order to obtain true and valid data. Validity of qualitative research may be described as the use of quality concepts (Golafshani, 2003). My goal will be to portray the high quality of this research study to the participants and readers. I will demonstrate that the conclusions were obtained through unbiased methods.
Constructivism enables the researcher to appreciate the fact that people have multiple realities in their mind (Golafshani, 2003). The individuals who will be study participants will have multiple realities that will contribute to their attitudes about regional integration. Golafshani (2003) stated that the open-ended perspective of constructivism is consistent with engaging in multiple methods such as observation, interviews, and recording. Implementing these methods into the study design will contribute to its validity. By conducting the interviews in person or via video teleconference, should the need arise, I will be able to observe the reactions of the individual to the questions, conduct the interview process, and verbally record the responses. Transcription of the recorded interviews by an independent third-party will provide objectivity to what each interviewee said. A combined data review that includes myself and other professionals will show that the data were reviewed in an unbiased manner.
The researcher has a responsibility to present the data in such a way that the reader can make an informed judgment about the issue (Schram, 2006). Patton (2002) described the concept of extrapolation, in which the researcher speculates on how likely the findings would occur under other similar conditions. It is my goal to identify themes about the attitudes of local residents of the Central African states on the topic of regional integration that may be extrapolated to others, such as government officials responsible for implementation of local and regional policies.
Resnik’s (2010) extensive arguments illustrate the need for a researcher to take ethical consideration as a critical component when conducting any type of research. According to Resnik (2010), a researcher must emphasise on ethical considerations, to form a strong basis for making the subjects of the research to accept and be part of the research process. The research will strongly factor ethical issues in research. Possible ethical considerations that may arise through this study consist of the following:
- The potential for unintentional plagiarism through verbatim lifting of information, arguments, and points of view from researched source material.
- The use of unsubstantiated information taken from unverifiable or nonacademic resources (e.g., Internet articles).
- The use of a biased viewpoint on issues that may inadvertently result in an alteration of the questionnaire results.
- Presentation of data without sufficient corroborating evidence or a lack of citations.
- Falsification of the results of the research for the benefit of the initial assumptions of the study.
- Use of views and ideas without giving due credit to the original source.
According to Saunders et al. (2000), “Ethics refers to the appropriateness of your behavior in relation to the rights of those who become the subject of your work, or are affected by it” (p. 130). In addition to seeking approval from the doctoral thesis board, a letter of consent will be sent to the head of the program to request individual indulgence and approval in conducting the study.
Mailings will be sent to the individual institutions, agencies, businesses, and others, explaining the main objective of the study and requesting their consent to participate. Further communication will proceed via e-mail between those who agree to take part in the survey and the researcher to ensure that all individuals understand the requirements for the study. I will also take time to elaborate upon the rights of participants during the study process, including the right to informed consent and the right to confidentiality. By addressing these concerns through guidelines on proper ethics and research, I do not expect any ethical conflicts.
Summary and Conclusion
In summary, the need to discover the effect of regional integration on the social lives of the people under the umbrella of the central African states underpins the current study. The approach will use a mixed research method to determine the impact regional agreements have on the social lives of the people in terms of leadership, agriculture, trade, free movement of people, and technology among other variables. A mixed research method will be used to answer the research questions. The rationale of using the approach is to draw on the strengths of both qualitative and quantitative techniques to avoid factoring any weaknesses of either research paradigms.
In this section, the preliminary study revealed that the researcher could utilize interviews as the primary method of data collection. Overall, the methodology that will be utilized is straightforward. I will utilize the questionnaire in order to obtain the views of my subjects and combine such views with the relevant literature that has been accumulated so far. Through this process, an analysis of the current effectiveness of regional integration can be created, which will help the researcher to better understand whether the current methods utilized by states to integrate has produced positive economic results for the local population. This thesis follows proper research ethics in that the methodology shows considerable effort in ensuring that the identities and opinions of my subjects remains hidden in order to prevent any reprisals from local officials.
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Appendix A: Acronyms
- ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations)
- AU (African Union)
- BAD (African Development Bank)
- BEAC (Bank of Central African States)
- CAP (Collective Action Problems)
- CAR (Central African Republic)
- CEMAC (The Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa)
- CEEAC (Economic Community of Central African States)
- CIA (Central Intelligence Agency)
- COMESA (Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa)
- EATUC (East African Trades Union Congress)
- EAC (East African Community)
- ECA (Eastern Communication Association)
- ECOWAS (Economic Community Of West African States)
- EPA (Economic Partnership Agreements)
- EU (European Union)
- ILO (International Labor Organization)
- NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement)
- OECD (Organization Economic Co-operation and Development)
- OHADA (Organization for Harmonization in Africa of Business. Laws)
- REC (Regional Economic Communities)
- SME (Small and Medium Enterprises)
- SADC (Southern African Development Community)
- SATUCC (Southern African Trade Union Coordination Council)
- UDEAC (Central African Customs and Economic Union)
- UNCTAD (United Nations on Trade and Development)
- UEMOA (West African Economic and Monetary Union)
- UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund)
- USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics)
- WB (World Bank)
Appendix B: Definition of Terms
Regional integration: Regional integration refers to the economic practice wherein distinct states enter into a regional treaty or accord in order to develop regional cooperation among themselves. Typically, regional integration is achieved through a series of institutions and regulations drafted by and adhered to by all member states. Simply put, regional integration is a course of action by which an assemblage of countries frees up trade restrictions by negotiating free-trade zones or customs unions.
CEMAC: CEMAC, or the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa, refers to an organization of states composed of Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, and Gabon, whose express purpose is to promote regional economic integration under a shared common currency. The current objectives of the organization are the reduction of trade-related barriers, the creation of a regional common market, and promotion of a greater degree of solidarity among the different social groups within the CEMAC member states.
Human migration: Refers to the physical movement of individuals across state borders because of one of the following reasons:
- Economic Hardship
Within the context of the Central African states that are being examined within this study, the primary reason for interregional migration is usually because of the sporadic famines that hit various regions within Central Africa, as well as various aspects related to trade and economic hardship. It must be noted that travel in between the CEMAC member states is facilitated through the use of a regional passport system, but numerous issues still exist regarding human migration in this regard, which this paper will examine in subsequent sections.
Tariff: A tariff is a tax on either imports or exports and is meant as a means of government income or a way in which cheap foreign imports of already locally made products do not overwhelm local markets. It is often argued (primarily by first-world countries such as the United Kingdom) that tariffs are actually an impediment toward a stronger global economic systems; however, third-world countries argue that tariffs are often necessary because of the economic advantage of first-world states, which in effect leaves them vulnerable to product dumping and an assortment of disastrous economic outcomes should specific tariffs meant to protect local industries be removed.
Free trade: Under a free-trade policy, the prices of specific goods and services emerge as a direct result of supply and demand within the common market. In this scenario, a government does not implement methods of discrimination against imports (applying a tariff) or exports (by applying a subsidy) but rather allows the common market to basically dictate the supply, demand, and the prices of such goods and services. Although the concept of a free-trade agreement is generally well accepted within various industrialized nations, it is often thought to be detrimental by developing and newly industrialized countries because of the obvious differences in competitive advantage. As such, this has led to considerable debates regarding the implementation of any form of free-trade policy between countries of varying competitive levels and has created an international market where sporadic instances of free trade (as seen in the case of Singapore) occur, which is overlaid by a layer of protectionism (seen in the case of the United States).
Appendix C: Consent Form
Impact of Regional Integration on Trade and Human Migration
Dear Participant: You are cordially invited to participate in a research study involving the examination of the impact of regional integration on trade and human migration among citizens of the CEMAC member states. You were selected as a participant based on your knowledge involving changes in trade, ease of migration, employability, as well as beneficial effects of regional integration on local economies within Central Africa. Prior to participating in this study, please read through this form in order to familiarize yourself with the responses expected of you. Should you have any questions or concerns, please voice them to the researcher at any time. This study is being conducted by Frantz Batoh who is a doctoral degree candidate.
The purpose of this study is to determine the full gamut of effects that have come about as a result of regional integration among members of the CEMAC member states. This involves an examination of the effects of the integration on a micro and macro scale. This entails an investigation of the economic impact of the integration on each member state while at the same time involves an examination of how such processes impact people on an individual basis. It is expected that this research study should provide an enlightening account regarding the positive and negative aspects of the processes that CEMAC has put into practice.
Should you agree to participate in this study; the following will be asked of you:
- Sign the consent form indicating that you are willing to participate in this study and that you are allowing the researcher to utilize the information you give as part of the data analysis.
- Give clear, concise, and, above all, honest answers on the questionnaire, as well as to the individual interviewing you.
- Fill out all the segments of the questionnaire.
- Indicate your demographic data on the questionnaire.
- Be interviewed by the researcher after finishing the questionnaire and give honest responses.
Assurance of Anonymity
All information that will be obtained, via this method of data gathering, will be kept strictly confidential with all research participants being assured of the anonymity of their responses. None of the responses will be released with any indication that they were given by a particular individual. The results will be quantified into basic statistics to ensure that no personally identifiable information can be identified. Information gathered from respondents of the survey will be destroyed after a period of 10 years to further ensure that no personal information will be leaked in any way.
Voluntary Nature of the Study
Your participation in this study is strictly voluntary. Your decision as to whether or not to participate will not affect your current or future relations with anyone involved in the study. You may withdraw from the study at any time without any penalty, even if you initially decide to participate.
Risk from Undertaking the Study
Although there are no outright risks in participating in a study of this nature, there are some long-term risks that should be taken into consideration. The possibility exist that participants in the study may face victimization or undue criticism due to the views they present, which may or may not appeal to the “image” that various governments wish themselves to be portrayed. In order to prevent such problems from occurring, all the data will be sealed within a locked cabinet and will not be presented without ensuring that all possible methods of identification have been removed beforehand.
Impact of Regional Integration on Trade and Human Migration
Contacts and Questions:
The researcher conducting this study is xxx. The researcher’s adviser is xxx, PhD. You may ask any questions you have now. If you have questions later, you may contact us.
|Contact info for researcher:||Contact info for advisor:|
You will receive a copy of this form from the researcher.
Statement of Consent:
I have read the above information. I have asked questions and received answers. I consent to participate in the study.
Printed Name of Participant: _________________________________________
Signature: _________________________________ Date: _____________
Signature of Investigator: _____________________ Date: _____________
Participant Pseudonym: __________________________