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Regional Integration for Business Environment Essay


Introduction

An examination of the current literature surrounding CEMAC (the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa) reveals that few studies have attempted to examine the impact of regional integration on trade and human migration on a local level among the Central African states. The importance of accomplishing such a study lies in determining whether people on a local level within the region have greater access to sources of income as a result of such changes, whether in the form of better travel, trade, business or job opportunities, as a direct result of regional integration. Even if the governments of such countries say, a definite impact exists if the citizens of these countries who are supposed to be affected by such changes say otherwise, this means that the methods of regional integration that have been implemented so far are either insufficient or ineffective.

This study theorizes that the fear of possible negative ramifications as a result of regional integration in the form of unequal trade relations and local industries being overwhelmed by cheaper imports has resulted in the development of barriers towards proper integration policies and practices. As such, the research question is to know whether regional integration through CEMAC has created a better business environment for entrepreneurs and job seekers or has the degree of “hesitance to integrate” seen among the Central African states resulted in ineffective policies that do little to advance the cause of regional integration?

To answer such a question, it would be necessary to examine the positive or negative effects of regional integration thus far within CEMAC. This relates to greater/lesser amounts of trade as a result of CEMAC’s inception, the ease of migration of people within the region, influx of foreign capital from one member of CEMAC to the other, the development of job opportunities as well as the exchange of resources in between CEMAC members.

Background of the Study

With the emergence of regional blocs such as the European Union (EU), the Arab League and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), whose express purpose is to promote 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 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 where 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 integrations 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 to create a regional environment that is supposedly more beneficial for all the states that are part of the regional block (Iheduru, 2012). However, studies such as those by Simon (2010) have indicated that not all instances of regional integration result in positive effects for the member states involved (Simon, 2010). Simon (2010) points out that states make not all cases of regional integration with comparative levels of economic competitiveness.

There will always be cases where one state is more economically powerful than another in terms of industrialization, access to resources, technological advancement, and so forth. This would, of course, create 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 imports. Pogoretskyy and Beketov (2012) also explain that in some multilateral agreements involving regional integration, there are cases where the more powerful state gains the most out of the agreement leading to distinct trade imbalances (Pogoretskyy and Beketov, 2012).

Another factor that should be taken into consideration is increased rates of human migration between states that are part of a regional integration agreement. As seen in the work of Pijpers (2008) which examined the impact of regional integration in the case of the EU, human migration in between the member states increased considerably as travel restrictions in the form of border controls, visas and other such inconveniences were removed which encouraged tourism, regional workers (i.e., workers coming from one country and working in another) and inter-regional business 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 changes in human migration between the member states. On the other hand, because the countries that are part of the European Union share borders as compared to the members of the ASEAN who are separated by the South China Sea and the Philippine Sea, 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 who are a part of CEMAC share the same borders, there would likely be an increased rate of migration between them as compared to the case of the EU. Not only that but based on the previous data involving the economic effects of a regional agreement on states, it is also likely that there should be an increased amount of trade and business relations between the member states.

On the other hand, studies such as those by Vancauteren and Henry de Frahan (2011) have indicated 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 (Vancauteren and Henry de Frahan, 2011). Such an attitude may also be present among the members of CEMAC resulting in the possibility that despite attempts at regional integration to develop economically as a whole, upon investigation it might be seen that there have been little improvements in trade between the parties involved since the states within CEMAC may be erecting trade restrictions to protect their local markets due to fears of them being overwhelmed by cheaper imports.

It is based on what we said above that this study would attempt to examine whether regional integration in the case of the CEMAC member states has resulted in increased migration between parties to the agreement as well as whether there have been positive economic developments in the form of increased trade.

Problem Statement

My question is whether current regional integration practices among the Central African states have had any enduring positive impact on people on a local level. This entails whether there have been greater/lesser amounts of trade as a result of CEMAC’s inception, the general ease of migration of people within the region, influx of foreign capital from one member of CEMAC to the other, the development of job opportunities as well as the exchange of resources in between CEMAC members.

Given that economic policies for the promotion of regional integration, such as free trade, in between the member states of CEMAC have yet to be implemented, this brings into question whether the states are working as competitors instead of partners, which as a result, would prevent any form of effective regional integration from coming to pass. If the CEMAC member states are working as competitors instead of partners, the inevitable result will be a prioritization of protectionist policies for the state economy rather than the lowering of trade barriers.

However, if the states in question are working as partners, this would have manifested itself in the form of policies, which encourage interregional trade and the lowering of tariffs and trade restrictions as well as the development of policies that would enable greater ease of migration among the citizens of the Central African states. By comparing regional trade data and the general perception of residents towards regional integration, I will be able to show whether regional integration in the case of the Central African states has resulted in changes that can be arguably felt by people on the local level. I will also be able whether the changes are negligible and ineffective.

Purpose

The main purpose of this research project is to determine whether regional integration has had an impact on trade and human migration in the case of the Central African states that are part of CEMAC. This should manifest itself as some form of positive or negative effect, such as greater/lesser amounts of trade and the easier/harder movement of people and resources in between CEMAC members, as well as other such manifestations.

By the end of this study, the researcher will utilize the accumulated data 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 to create better opportunities for the region as a whole, their mutual distrust and inherent competitiveness make cooperation that much harder, which results in an ineffective method of regional integration that is barely felt on the local level. Qualitative questioning will address the following question: Has regional integration through CEMAC created a better business environment for entrepreneurs and job seekers or has the degree of “hesitance to integrate” seen among the Central African states resulted in ineffective policies that do little to advance the cause of regional integration?

Research Methodology

The following analysis of the impact of regional integration on trade and human migration within those mentioned above, Central African states will be conducted on two different levels: economic effects and social implications. Consequentially, each level 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 researchers and Central African institutions (e.g., the National Statistical Office; the Ministry of Finance; various National Banks, etc.) collected. The used 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. At first, I used secondary research (mainly academic papers) to work out the primary aspects here. Having this theoretical knowledge in mind, I will conduct primary research in the form of interviews or questionnaire distribution during a short stay in various CEMAC member states by September 2012 or at a later date. I will use a guided interview technique/questionnaire distribution strategy when talking to various Africans within the region to ensure compliance with proper academic standards.

The main intent of this part of the study is explorative 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 (i.e., jobs, famine, etc.). 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 (i.e., positive or negative). This will be done through structured interviews with various foreign workers.

Assumptions

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 the members, 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 (for the region) states 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.

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 due to the potential negative impacts 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 throughout the years have resulted in positive economic effects for the countries involved.

The problems lie in the fact that stronger states tend to gain more from entering into any form of agreement with weaker states by 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 imports, which would devastate their local economy; the possibility of product dumping; overly strict export requirements to meet the standards of the stronger state; and unregulated human migration, which could take jobs away from residents as a result.

As Zawahri and Mitchell (2011) explained, states often hesitate to enter into a variety of bilateral and multilateral agreements because of the potential for abuse by the larger state. As such, it is often the case that they would prefer not to agree at all, barring some form of protectionist measure, 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 on a regional level can be seen in the interactions between the European Union and ASEAN, wherein the ASEAN has been unwilling to enter into any form of the free-trade agreement due to the potential for agricultural product dumping by the European Union.

When presented with a revised trade agreement that showed a degree of protectionism for the local agricultural industries of the ASEAN member states, it was the European Union this time that refused to agree. Simonelli (2009) explained that this was indicative of the fact that the European Union 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, for example, stronger states gaining more from an agreement than weaker states (Simonelli, 2009).

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, would involve inter-state 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 even though all members of CEMAC have access to a regional passport system that allows transit in between the various member states without undue problems. 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 corrupted officials.

Research Design

The present 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. This study will thus rely on 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. Not only that, but the econometric data of the last ten years of the CEMAC states will also be examined to create a more in-depth analysis of the economic effects of regional integration.

Furthermore, I will also rely on such qualitative methods as interviews to see how regional integration affected the lives of urban populations in Central African countries. It is expected that through a combination of the views of 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 exist that have come about as a direct result of 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 the need for me to travel directly to various Central African states 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 the country.

Variables

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.

Limitations

As mentioned earlier, this study will limit itself to primarily distributing questionnaires to members of the urban populace 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. To the econometric data, I will examine the research will primarily confine itself to a 10-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 10-year period would suffice for the needs of this study.

Research Constraints

One major constraint is the lack of suitable and recent data about the economic effects within the Central African states that will be examined within this study. The National Statistics Office only collects a limited set of econometric data and, in addition, the data mostly stays on a macroeconomic level with little information about the actual implications on the local level. Also, the data of international organizations, including the World Bank, United Nations on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and Organization Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), is incomplete. Based on this, I will work out the specific characteristics of the development within individual states to a large extent but will indicate the parts where I had to revert to macroeconomic findings because of a lack of pertinent sufficient local data.

In terms of the social analysis, primary research has been conducted to fill some of the evolving gaps and to get a better insight into the matter. Yet, it must be noted that the time constraint only allows structured interviews/questionnaire distribution with an unrepresentative number of people and also limited flexibility when conducting the interviews/distributing the questionnaires. A general overview is therefore not possible, although the statements certainly add to the knowledge about the impact of regional integration.

Study Delimitations

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 should have the necessary information. Relevant books were also included in the review. Furthermore, websites such as The Economist.com have several online articles that contain snippets of information that should be able to help steer the study toward acquiring the necessary sources needed to justify 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 opinion of the residents alongside that of econometric data to create a “picture,” so to speak, of the impact that the current trend in regional integration has on local trade and human migrations 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 the states that enter into it. This was seen in the case of the European Union, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Arab League, and a variety of other examples of regional integration, which current prevailing literature shows were created over time and after a considerable degree of negotiation because of the economic imbalances of the member states.

From these examples, we notice that for any potential for relative gains to occur, which would result in a greater predilection toward not entering into a bilateral or multilateral agreement 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 does not become surprising, then, that such problems are also present in the case of the CEMAC member states; however, unlike the examples of regional integration given, the Central African states in question have to deal with problems that are not limited to mere economic issues.

Rather, the problems they are currently experiencing range from rampant poverty, low levels of economic development, and corruption in 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 that make regional integration that much harder to sufficiently implement and can create an almost negligible impact on trade. This study helps to create a better understanding of how regional integration creates an impact on such and whether it has resulted in positive effects for trade and human migration. This study can have significant implications for policymakers. Its findings can tell whether the policies are effective and how they can be improved.

Literature Review

The birth of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC) was heralded as a means to create an atmosphere in the sub-region of Central Africa, where all the member states could enjoy its benefits. The results, however, are far from the original expectations. Member states are still taking unilateral actions. There are perceptible border tensions despite the existence of a common passport for all six states. Overall, the origins of this integration can be traced to the early sixties, when the first free-trade agreements were concluded; based on these agreements, CEMAC was formed (IMF, 2006). At the given moment, economists and sociologists still debate the effects of this policy (Ulfelder, 2008). The problem in this study will be to examine the impacts of regional integration in Central Africa in this chapter.

The main focus of this chapter, the literature review chapter, will be the effects of regional integration on trade, migration, and border control as it appears in the current scholarly literature. This chapter will investigate the current scholarship into the most important question, namely, whether Central African countries currently act as partners or competitors as a result 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.

Prior research has primarily focused on the free-trade agreements governments of Central African states have adopted, as well as their role in attracting new investors (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), who examined the current integration projects in Central Africa, did similar research. 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.

As the current study will be based on the combination of quantitative and qualitative research methods, the literature review will reflect this methodology wherever possible (Hesse-Biber, 2010). Studies that have employed regression analysis 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 the CEMAC region, will be highlighted. In line with the goals of the study, the literature review will concern the econometric data and studies published from within the last ten years. Furthermore, the literature review will include studies that have relied primarily on such qualitative methods as interviews 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.

The following literature review on the impact of regional integration on trade and human migration in Central Africa employed several different search methods in its compilation. 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 for 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

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 (Simon, 2010). From the perspective of Simon (2010), regional integration can be considered a way in which states position themselves to minimize conflict and maximize the benefits attained from cooperation with another state/s within the same region (Simon, 2010). 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 regional integration in this regard are the European Union and the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), both of which have enabled their citizens to enjoy unrestricted travel in between the members of the respective organizations, as well as fewer barriers to trade and commerce (Aggarwal, 2010). Both the European Union 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 the countries involved in it (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 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 of integration with other members, thus resulting in a greater predilection toward the preservation of the organization (Capannelli, Lee, and Petri, 2010) (Desai and Vreeland, 2011).

One notices evidence toward fostering deeper ties of integration with the case of Germany and various other member states that are part of the European Union 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 is due to the following factors:

  • perceived benefits derived from integration (economic or otherwise);
  • being able to negotiate as a block;
  • sense of community;
  • perceived survival, both regionally and internationally.

We must acknowledge that through the establishment of institutions that act as facilitators of inter-state policies and trade, this, in effect, lessens the amount of conflict between states (Vieira and Alden, 2011). The more perceived benefits that states derive from regional integration, the more likely they are to support initiatives that 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 and Pentecost, 2011). As Stack and Pentecost (2011) explain, while the initial goal of any multilateral agreement is for the benefit of 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 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 have come 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 “spillover” 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 European Union 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 E.U. even though 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) refers to Greece and its acceptance into the European Union as one of the best examples of how regional integration can go wrong for any one of the member States. First and foremost, what one has to understand is that 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 also 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 (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 technology and manufacturing infrastructure which 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 (Thonke and Spliid, 2012). Not only that, but the economies of Germany, France, and Spain did also benefit more from intra-regional trade with Greece as compared to the benefits Greece derived from such an agreement (Piesse and Hearn, 2012).

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 which shows that despite the member states have supposedly eliminated tariffs in trade between them, the full implementation of the integration policy has yet to be into effect by the member states (Nicolas, 2010). This means that the member states of CEMAC acknowledge the possibility that they should fully open their trade routes and economies to the other member countries, and there is the 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 the reality of things. 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). Because of 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 involving economic integration. The main idea behind the dependency theory is the notion that “various resources from the periphery, representing the poor and underdeveloped 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 midpoint of the 20th 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, 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 the advantage of technological innovation, modern-day infrastructures, and systems, and an educated population base as well as several centuries’ worth of social development; emerging economies were hard-pressed to even reach a fraction of what such societies had accomplished (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 its 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), in several instances (seen within Asia and varying parts of Eastern Europe) that they fell into 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 states within Eastern Europe that were relegated to being mere resource providers to Russia when they were integrated within the U.S.S.R instead of developing their own independent economic competitiveness (Nindl, 2009).

From the examination of Nindl (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 fall. 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 (Carabelli and Cedrini, 2010). Regional trade indeed does, at times, result in many opportunities for local industries.

It is also true that other countries within the same regionally cooperative agreement have their 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). As such, although member states may significantly improve the process in the flow of goods, does this mean that trade will be equal (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 a point of this by stating that the most likely scenario to occur is that when it comes to regional trade between countries of varying economic competitiveness, the less 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 to developing 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 (Tkachenko, 2009). 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 Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.) 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 within 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).

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 as 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).

Taking this into consideration when examining the case of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) member states, whether the same occurrence will happen or is already happening at present comes into question, hence the continued hesitance of several of its members to commit fully toward the economic union.

The reason this is relevant to the case of regional integration in Central Africa is because of the dependency theory, which clearly states that wealthy nations perpetuate a state of dependence on such countries through various means, whether they be economic, financial, political, or the development of human resources. This is to perpetuate a continuous stream of resources toward the core; periphery states need to be kept in a constant state of dependence.

How likely is this to occur in the case of the CEMAC member states? “Quite likely!”, as seen in the Thonke and Spliid (2012) study, which 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 all sorts of regionally intensive agreements. However, the fact remains, according to Thonke and Spliid (2012), that the African states can be considered a microcosm of the state of global affairs at the present 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, even though 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.

Theoretical Framework

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 study. Sekaran (2006) says that they model a theoretical framework around the interrelationship between the independent variables and the dependent variables. In this case, it is considered to be instrumental in examining the impact of regional integration on trade and human migration.

To better understand the points of conflict in this case, we will utilize realism, liberalism, and neoliberal institutionalism. We will carry out this utilization to examine the decisions of the states that are involved, and we will determine why they pursued a course of action.

First and foremost, 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. In contrast, from a liberalist perspective, cheating does also occur. However, instead of relative gains, what occurs is collective action problems (Hamati-Ataya, 2010; Walker, 2008). Though the easiest solution to this problem would be to simply enact some form of the regional cooperative agreement, this ensures a level playing field. A majority of African states has hesitated, if not 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).

Taking the liberal view into consideration, collective action problems for inter-state cooperation can be surmised into two distinct problem sets, namely:

• Achieving cooperation between states is relatively costly to organize, monitor, and enforce (Wilson, 2011).

• There is the possibility of “free-riding,” 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 found 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 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 state this because of the behavior of states, where 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 border conflicts, hesitance to enter into broad free-trade agreements, and relative unwillingness to tackle issues related to labor practices despite the perceived benefits that 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 neo-liberal institutionalism advocates the use of institutions as facilitators of cooperative action between states (Sterling-Folker, 2000). From the neoliberal institutionalist perspective, creating institutions, especially qualitative multilateral ones, alleviates the problems connected to Collective Action Problems (CAPs), as well as 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 to attempt to show that despite the inherent problems in regional cooperation in the case of the 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.

Realism

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 be dictated by an outside entity. Hence the fact 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 through the use of statecraft.

Under the realist perspective, sovereign states are the primary actors in international relations, and as such, are the main moves in the international system (Guzzini, 2004). When it comes to international institutions such as the United Nations; nongovernmental organizations such as CEMAC, Greenpeace, Amnesty International, and so on; multinational corporations such as the Blackstone Group; and other sub-state or trans-state actors, the realist perspective views all as having 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 with agreed-upon economic terms and policies. If such an institution cannot enforce compliance, then it is unlikely that sufficient or even effective regional integration can take place, which could create positive economic results (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 many examples exist of regional integration throughout the world, such as EU, ASEAN, and many others. 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 European Union, the E.U. 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 the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), such a degree of control is not present. It 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 economic policies instead of those CEMAC prescribes, which is happening at the present as evidenced by a state of competition instead of cooperation.

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 the other state that enters into the said agreement (Walker & Morton, 2005). Despite regularly engaging in situations of necessary international cooperation, nation-states continue to strategize to maintain the states’ national advantages. Larger and richer nations such as Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, and Cameroon perceive this move as one that increases their leverage. In contrast, less rich states such as the Republic of Congo, Chad, and the Central African Republic accept to be seen and treated as trivial characters in 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, to ensure the survival of the state.

National Interests

We define the concept of national interest as a country’s inherent goals concerning the pursuit of particular economic, military, or cultural objectives (Kelanic, 2008). This is reflected in various foreign-policy mandates concerning 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 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 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 distinct economic agendas in terms of encouraging economic growth and development, this would, in turn, have a distinct impact on its foreign policy agendas, as well. This is evident in the case of Singapore and its utilization of free-trade agreements with various states, resulting in its development into 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 a certain degree of economic cooperation exists. However, it is still nowhere near the numbers that should be present given the decade that has elapsed between the creation of CEMAC and the present (Cattaneo, 2009). There is one way of trying to address this disparity between national interests and the current reality Central African states are currently experiencing. That way is to examine what factors influence the implementation of national interests within the member states.

Studies such as Piesse and Hearn’s (2012) have revealed that a greater disparity exists in resource allocation within 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 (Piesse & Hearn, 2012). 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 would mean 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 are individuals and their inherent personalities from which the concept of ideology comes into play. What must be understood is that individuals who are the decision-makers of the state (i.e., presidents, prime ministers, congress, senate, etc.) 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, this takes on a decidedly different turn of events as the studies such as Vieira and Alden’s (2011) show it. Those studies examined the governing bodies of the Central African states where corruption is endemic. This even expects at times when government officials within these states have a predilection for being influenced by outside influences rather than focus on national interests (Vieira and Alden, 2011). Though it may be true that corruption exists in a multitude of governments, in the case of the CEMAC member states, this 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 create, it neglects to delve into the varying effects of such benefits on individual states Vieira and Alden’s (2011). The last principle of realism lies in the distinction that relationships between states are determined by their comparative levels of power (one state is 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 aspects. Based on this perspective, the relationship between the member states within CEMAC can be considered distinctly unequal, the extent which I will cover in the next few sections.

Global Influences

On a relatively minor note, is the impact of global influences on the decisions of states. Global influences take the form of various events that drive the 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. What must be understood is that foreign-policy objectives are not static.

They are becoming a dynamic response to a combination of global events concerning a country’s national interest. For example, the United States at present is no longer pursuing a foreign-policy strategy of isolation 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 influence in the region, not through military expansion. 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, 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 it 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. 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.

Summary

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 and at the same time should utilize 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, this study will be able to present a solution to the problems that will undoubtedly be brought up to the study on the impact of regional integration on trade and human migration progresses.

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 reaching 43%) is centred around the oil industry. Rather regrettably, this has resulted in a certain over-reliance on oil as a revenue generator for many local industries, resulting in industrial stagnation that further worsens because of 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 wish to develop better methods of free trade amongst the ASEAN member states (Gabon, 2012; Leifer, 2000). This inherent predilection for being more open to trade is because of the lack of sufficient local industries to protect and that both countries are heavily reliant on imports. We saw in the case of the now-defunct European Union–ASEAN agricultural agreement in which Singapore pushed for free-trade relations with the European Union (EU).

This push was carried on even though it would negatively affect other nations within ASEAN because of the common agricultural policy (CARP) that was prevalent within the European Union 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 imports).

Taking this into consideration, one can see that Gabon’s current willingness to engage in the lowering of tariffs is in itself not harmful. It would not be negatively impacted the cohesion of the integration, should cheaper exports from other African states enter its borders (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 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 examination of the econometric data from the past ten years examining the impact of interregional trade will shed light on the number of imports entering into Gabon. It would 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 better imports-oriented economy for a country that is dependent on external sources for a wide variety of its local needs. It must be noted, though that even though regional integration would enable local importers to improve their businesses, the issue of unequal distribution of income within the country still exists (Gabon, 2012).

Even though 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 avenue for locals within Gabon travel to other countries within Central Africa that have better opportunities because of more robust local industries even if it is apparent that Gabon would reap considerable benefits from regional integration.

Another factor that should be taken into consideration is the potential long-term effects 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 (Witherbee, 2011). This has been backed up 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 as of late (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 the fact that this will decimate any potential for its local industries to improve to a level that 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 on 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 enough local companies will be affected. In the short term, those countries will prosper. Still, in the long term, there will be an insufficient precedent for the development of local competitiveness destroying the Gabon economy once its oil reserves are entirely depleted (Witherbee, 2011). Although other countries within the same circumstances have addressed this issue by planning for the future via infrastructure and economic development through the use of oil wealth, such a system is, unfortunately, missing in the case of Gabon with plans for an after-oil scenario barely within 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 from the past ten years. However, in the next 20 to 25 years, given the current situation of Gabon and if the authorities do nothing about it, regional integration, in this case, would be detrimental for Gabon in the long run. 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 lacklustre 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 in various levels of the government. It must be noted, though that just because the country now 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 of the country 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 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 this, it can be stated that regional integration in the case of Equatorial Guinea would 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 perceived. Not only that, but similar to the case of Gabon, its local industries also have the potential to also be overwhelmed by cheap imports as a direct result of the lowering of tariffs, so this 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 with 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 current 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). Secondly, numerous internal conflicts 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 et al., 2011). Not only that, but 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.).

This perspective begs the question of what exactly Chad would derive from regional integration if it neither has 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). However, even though 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 spilt over into the borders of its neighbours, 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: The Central African Republic, 2005).

Overall, the Central African Republic shows potential as a future mineral resource and agricultural exporter; however, it lacks sufficient foreign direct investments 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 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 into the country’s GDP. However, it does not occupy the same level of overbearing dominance seen in the countries mentioned above; rather, oil production only makes up 40% of Cameroon’s economy with the remainder being split among agriculture, fishery, and forestry industries. This makes Cameroon’s local economy far more internally sustainable in the long run because of the diversity and strength of its local industries. Its fishery industry alone catches 20,000 tons of seafood a year with a large percentage going to various international markets such as those in South Korea.

Based on this, I assume 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, it can be seen that regional integration in the case of the CEMAC member States could be oriented more toward a form of partnership rather than the direct competition because some states, such as Cameroon, could effectively provide for the needs of other countries within the region.

Summary

From this section, it is evident that the same story recurs over and over again 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. Also, 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 the competition because their local industrial potential is far too weak to be able to compete with each 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 (though relatively small in comparison to other states), such as in the case of 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 the countries involved are continuing to develop strategies for an “after-oil” scenario once their oil wealth dries up. As such, many governments would view their local industries being overwhelmed by-products from their neighbours as detrimental toward their long-term goals of local economic sustainability. It is based on such a factor that the development of a certain degree of “hesitance” “toward the complete lowering of trade barriers would develop because such an action would result in some states gaining a distinct advantage because of 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 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 labour, 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 European Union (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 European Union 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 an 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 European Union, 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; 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 in the African continent share the common goal of devising, sustaining, and constructing an “all-inclusive African Economic Union” to promote economic augmentation throughout the continent of Africa, as well as provide an incentive for political constancy and viable governance (Ott & Patino, 2009, p. 287). However, in a continent as diverse as Africa, the prospect of regional integration of its countries brings up 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… Fifty 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, eight countries in East Africa… including the Horn of Africa… Ten countries in Central Africa, ten countries in Southern Africa and four 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). However, as Ott and Patino (2009) noted, “other motives obviously cannot be ruled out: political stability, the 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 neighbouring 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 RECs as 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). Also, 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 match with financial and natural resources, and several countries do not have access to water for transportation, so they must rely on other forms. Also, “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 neighbouring 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). Also, at the regional level, the RECs join neighbouring 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 within the continent; the power; the advanced nature of other well-established trading blocs in the world, such as the European Union and 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). Also, the continent of Africa suffers from a deeply neglected infrastructure. According to the African Development Bank Group (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)

Several scholars have viewed regional integration by several 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 the Arab countries (Agbetsiafa, 2010; Aminian et al., 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).

However, 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 continent’s citizens 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 March 1994 (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 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 the 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 the 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 the summit, 2012). At 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 the 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 the summit).

Recent Developments in CEMAC

When looking at the CEMAC member states, it must be noted that 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 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 resulted in significant monetary and fiscal policies for the Central African states involved in the 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 European Union) regarding the economic performance of individual CEMAC member states.

Ever since the CEMAC treaty was created, 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 European Union. 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 favourable 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 European Union is currently helping the CEMAC member states in establishing a regional road network that should help to connect the far-flung capitals of states within 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. It can be seen that intra-regional trade is still below the 10% margin needed, even though the Central African states are compared to their western counterparts. Even 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 into 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 to establish within a few years some measure of sufficient fiscal discipline and macroeconomic convergence for the various countries within the region.

It is quite interesting to note that even though oil production within Chad and Equatorial Guinea will increase within the immediate future (i.e., in 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 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 last, policies regarding methods of taxation in-between states. When examining this particular case from a societal perspective, it can be seen that the steady growth within the country has done very little in reducing 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. All in all, 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.

Recent CEMAC Developments

The record participation of Heads of States at the Yaoundé summit, as could be seen in the presence of five of the six presidents of CEMAC member countries (the Prime Minister represented only Chad), the participation of the president of Sao Tome and Principe and the representative of the president of the Democratic Republic of Congo as observers translated the collective resolve and determination of the statesmen to move the sub-region forward.

Such commitment was reflected in high-soaring resolutions taken, resolutions that touched on key issues of the community’s survival and which, if properly implemented, would have far-reaching effects on the livelihood of the population of the sub-region. Moreover, the specification of time limits within which most of the projects have to be implemented translates into the determination of the heads of state to break away from rhetoric to concrete action.

After years of feet dragging, during which CEMAC seemed to renege on the attainment of its integration objectives, the Yaoundé summit can, therefore, be considered a turning point. The desire to concretize most of the reforms that have been in gestation for some time is evident. The summit has traced the way forward on the path to effective integration and development of the sub-region. Be it concerning the free circulation of people and goods, the appointment of officials to posts of responsibility in CEMAC structures, and so on, the desire to move from intention to action is evident.

If the roadmap of the Heads of State was respected, the common passport for the sub-region (the CEMAC passport) would have been enacted by January 2010. This would have been a giant step in ensuring the free movement of people in the sub-region as the passport would be the only travel document required to move from one country of the sub-region to another. In this light, the CEMAC Commission was instructed to organize workshops to acquaint the police forces of the new dispensation. The CEMAC parliament, on the other hand, was expected to go into effect in 2011, while work will accelerate for the effective takeoff of Air CEMAC. The CEMAC Commission has been asked to work in collaboration with viable airlines to come out with concrete suggestions for a technical partner. In the meantime, a regional economic program had to be ready by December 2012 for adoption by the Heads of State in an extraordinary CEMAC summit.

The appointment of the different commissioners of the CEMAC Commission, who will have to deal with specific issues such as the common market, human rights, transport, and so on, also demonstrated the desire to move forward. This will, no doubt, instil dynamism into the commission and accelerate work in the different domains. Additionally, the award of honorific distinctions to some of those who have been working selflessly for the progress of CEMAC will spur others to emulate their example. The institution of a CEMAC Day, to be commemorated every March 16, is a plus in this direction. It will be an ideal occasion for member states to explain the community’s ideology to their people.

As such, the commission released a statement that said, “In the days ahead, therefore, we expect a change. A detachment from the egoism and nationalistic tendencies that have kept the CEMAC sub-region backwards. It is our common destiny that is at stake.” That is why the heads of state who met in Yaoundé were preoccupied with the situation in Chad. While condemning the recurrent rebel attacks, the Heads of State resolved to assist Chad financial and materially. In effect, instability in one country of the sub-region directly harms the other nations. The same can be said of insecurity, wherefore the resolve to join forces in the fight against crime in the sub-region.

The task ahead was enormous. The ball was in the court of President François Bozize of the Republic of Central Africa, who took over the command baton of CEMAC from President Paul Biya (Morikang, 2008).

The assertion that primary products contribute 85% to the economy of the Central African sub-region was to be validated or invalidated at the Yaoundé Hilton meeting. Economic experts from the ministries in charge of the economy of various countries, representatives of international institutions, representatives of economic communities, and representatives of the financial and private sector would screen a study carried out to that effect under the supervision of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Sub-Regional Office for Central Africa.

According to Mamadou Hachim Koumare, director of the ECA Central African Office, the study was carried out based on two observations: countries of Central Africa depend so much on the exportation of their primary products, including traditional agricultural products, food products and hydrocarbon, and this dependency is strongest compared to other sub-regions in Africa. Also, existing analytical work shows that dependency on basic products impedes economic growth, especially where the institutional framework of the country is weak.

Conducted in 2007 by a team of experts from the ECA Central African Office and other economic actors in the sub-region, the study was expected to act as an important guide for policy formulation in the various countries of the sub-region. Ahead of the validation of the study, authorities of the ECA Central African Office have been attempting explanations on the importance of primary products to CEMAC and regretting that several things have so far thwarted this. These include the lack of good road infrastructure, which renders things difficult for the population to take their products to the market, and a low level of local processing. According to one of the experts, the sub-region benefits only 5% to 10% of the added value as a result of exporting primary products to be processed abroad (Nyuylime, 2008).

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 ways to augment boosting 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 the summit, 2012). The International Road Transport Union, a world road transport body that:

“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 the 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 the 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 the 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 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 the summit, 2012, para. 6). Also, 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 the 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 before 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 debarred the official from the CEMAC headquarters in Bangui, the capital city of the Central African Republic (News analysis: CEMAC head expelled ahead of the summit, 2012, para. 6). Bozize was tight-lipped about the reasons for the expulsion and told news agencies, “We 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 the summit, para. 6). However, corruption rumours are rampant (News analysis: CEMAC head expelled ahead of the 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 the 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 the summit, para. 6).

Therefore, the CAR President Bozize and the CAR authorities in Bangui are displeased with the management of CEMAC and want Ntsimi replaced with a more prudent official (News analysis: CEMAC head expelled ahead of the 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 the summit, para. 6).

Trade

One of the most significant challenges regional integration faces in Africa lies in the continued competitive nature of the relationship between member countries. 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 case. 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 percent and 1.3 percent 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, other third-world Latin American countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay, are facing similar situations as they underwent a significant transformation in their trade policies to improve their economic futures (Aminian, Fung, & Ng, 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 to the implementation of “outward-oriented policies” (Aminian et al., p. 114). The Latin American economies also implemented economic stabilization programs and privatized several public companies (Aminian et al., 2008). Significant modernizing and liberalizing of the Africa trade model of this type is 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). Also, these critics cited “armed conflict [as] the single most devastating challenge for the continent” (Aning, 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 daily. 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, p. 1). Until these issues are addressed, critics posit, regional integration will continue to occur sporadically in pockets across the continent—specifically, countries that enjoy less-direct security threats—while others will stay mired in interminable armed conflict (Aning).

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 of 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 tend to bleed into cultural concerns, especially for the deeply religious. Gürol (2003) noted:

Some religions/sects are more tolerant of sexual behavior outside marriage than others, 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 nullify any trade agreements that may have been achieved.

Security Challenges

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, several unresolved violent conflicts were active “in several African countries, including Sudan… Darfur and Southern Sudan, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia-Eritrea, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Comoros, and the Central African Republic” (Mkwezalamba & Chinyama, 2007, p. 2).

The main security threats to trade-agreement implementation Africa faces include local economic sets of 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, p. 2). Security is also hampered by the complicity between political groups, smugglers, and families who operate illegal trade (Aning; 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 invaluable trade goods” (p. 2). Security challenges, therefore, contribute to the competitive nature of many of the CEMAC actor states, particularly when the trade is illegal (Aning).

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” (Cockburn & Njikam, 2011, 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). Other control 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 demonstrated 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)

Their study’s results demonstrated “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). Also, measures to “foster outward-orientation of different industries are 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 that “there remains considerable scope for refining and deepening the research agenda” (Cockburn & Njikam, p. 283). Several 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). Also, supply restrictions such as “poor infrastructure, poor institutions [and] bad governance in the developing counties… 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), within the context of the state of CEMAC and the state of Cameroon, had the objective of examining the overall growth rate of the economy. 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 within Cameroon. As such, it attempted to examine the mean growth rate, the rate of inflation, how external accounts were stabilized, what were the current attempts at fighting poverty, and how the state was developing good governance. The results of the study show that there were effective price controls in place to prevent rapid inflation, wherein for one 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 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. What the Ondoa and Tabi (2011) revealed was that 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 the amount of money in circulation within a country that is part of CEMAC, this does not necessarily result in a general price level increase. It was shown by the study that the monetary programming policy implemented by the CEMAC central bank 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 “hesistance” 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 slow down of the country’s growth.

Cyrille (2010) conducted a study to “investigate the effectiveness of the liquidity effect of monetary policy actions in the CEMAC region.” As the conventional wisdom states, 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 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 loanable 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.

Migration Flows

Climate change. Climate change affects millions of people in Africa and has proven to be one of the main impetuses for consistent human migration across borders (African Development Bank, 2011; African Development Bank Group, 2011). The countries with the greatest climatic instability include Botswana, Zambia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi (African Development Bank; African Development Bank Group). During the past few decades, an increase in climatic changeability has resulted in an increased occurrence of storms, flooding, and severe water shortages, all of which destroy the already weak infrastructure, make food shortages direr, and interfere or completely derail the development projects underway in the region (African Development Bank; African Development Bank Group). As agriculture moves into marginal lands, more trees have been cut down, which in turn has triggered problems within the water table (African Development Bank; African Development Bank Group). Also, these climatic changes have a major impact on “loss of 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)

Migrant labor. 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, 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, 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, p. 2). Also, the flood of citizens leaving the continent creates a “significant detrimental impact on development in Africa, [as] the region’s labor markets are disorganized” (International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, 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, p. 2).

Also, the vast majority of migrant workers remain in low-wage industries in

their host 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 migrant workers from Africa commonly experience 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 on 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, p. 4). However, these standards have not yet been properly implemented, “whether in AMU, CEMAC, COMESA, EAC, ECOWAS, or SADC” (International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, p. 4).

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 what steps were being taken to protect these workers in their 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, such as in the case of the International Labor Organization (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, though:

even though 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 and the International Labor Organization signed an accord designed to provide the South African Development Community with a senior program manager whose “function it 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, De Lombaerde, Macovei, & Schröder, 2011, p. 336)

According to Deacon, De Lombaerde, Macovei, and Schröder (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). However, the study’s authors noted that despite this positive sign, “no dialogue is currently taking place between the SADC Department for Trade and Investment and the Labor Directorate” (Deacon, De Lombaerde, Macovei, & Schröder, 2011, p. 336).

The study raised some key issues about the lack of integration and communication that occurs between organizations charged with the regulatory function of labor across national and international borders (Deacon, De Lombaerde, Macovei, & Schröder, 2011). For example, the researchers noted the lack of cohesion between labor bodies, noting, “The 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., 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, De Lombaerde, Macovei, and Schröder (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. (Deacon, De Lombaerde, Macovei, & Schröder, p. 336)

The report covering the period May 2008 through June 2009 of the African Union was noteworthy, Deacon, De Lombaerde, Macovei, and Schröder (2011) pointed out 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, De Lombaerde, Macovei, & Schröder, 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, De Lombaerde, Macovei, and Schröder (2011), this new charter addressed some pressing concerns for the migration flows of workers between countries and set out methods by which to “contribute to productive employment, facilitate labor mobility, and ensure regional cooperation in the collection of labor market data” (p. 337). Labor data for migrant workers flowing between countries is especially sparse and difficult to come by. 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 institutions. (p. 336)

Despite these limitations, as Deacon, De Lombaerde, Macovei, and Schröder (2011) noted, 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, De Lombaerde, Macovei, & Schröder, 2011, p. 338). The East African Trade Union Council is one of many trade union organizations in the region most 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., 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 Organisation 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., p. 336)

In 2005, the country of 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, De Lombaerde, Macovei, & Schröder, 2011). However, several problems arose (Deacon et al.). 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 “as of 2006 onwards is restricted to… Democracy and Good Governance, and Peace and Security” (Deacon, De Lombaerde, Macovei, & Schröder, 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., 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., p. 337). The agreement further specifies that “the 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., p. 337). This CEMAC committee, therefore, which is composed of the labor ministries of all of the CEMAC member states and meets once a year, 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.

Conclusion

Throughout conducting this literature review, I found that the main discovery the scholarly literature revealed on this topic is the fortitude demonstrated by the CEMAC member nations in their commitment to the implementation of regional integration. Many problems and challenges persist, as does slow growth in the economy and in the rate of foreign direct investment, and many of these problems occur at the human level, as exemplified by corruption issues even at the highest levels of government. However, much has been accomplished, and while the intense competition still exists between the member states for resources, there are also clear examples in which the member states have initiated partnerships designed to further the goal of economic improvement for Africa and its citizens.

Methodology

Introduction to Methodology

This section aims to provide information on how the study will be conducted and the rationale behind employing the discussed methodologies and techniques toward augmenting the study’s validity. In addition to describing the research design, the theoretical framework, and the population and sample size that will be used in this study, this section will also elaborate on instrumentation and data-collection techniques, validity and reliability, data analysis, and pertinent ethical issues that may emerge in the course of undertaking this study.

Justification

The reason that I chose this approach as compared to other credible research approaches is that it maximizes my ability to get as much data as possible most reliably and efficiently. By utilizing interviews and a translator, I can directly garner the views and opinions of residents regarding the impact of regional integration on their daily lives in the most direct way possible. Through the use of this method of data gathering, it removes the possibility that the subjects who are interviewed have little to no experience with CEMAC. While other possibilities were considered, such as placing ads in newspapers and recruiting through online forums, this creates a distinct gap in the research methodology since the researcher will have no way of knowing if these individuals are from the regions that are being examined and could simply be lying outright.

I could have relied almost entirely on academic literature and online databases to examine the impact of CEMAC on trade and human migration. However, the fact remains that utilizing questionnaires and directly interviewing people was deemed as the most appropriate method to obtain firsthand accounts of the impact of regional integration at present. This is based on the fact that local citizens would be better sources of data since they are the ones that are being directly impacted by appropriate/inappropriate practices involving regional integration and, as such, would be able to give firsthand accounts regarding their personal experiences.

This should prove to be invaluable since the data collected is from the direct perspective of entrepreneurs, academics, and employees of the various sectors of CEMAC member states, which would complement the data already presented within the literature-review section.

Aim

The aim of this study is to investigate the impacts of trade and border control in Central African countries.

Objectives

There are several objectives to this study:

  1. The first is the necessity to analyze the relations between the adoption of international trade agreements and the intensity of trade in this region.
  2. The second is the need to determine the extent to which this partnership affects migration in this region.
  3. Last, this study will also need to discuss the implications of this policy for border control.

Overall, this study can have significant implications for policy-makers because its findings can tell whether the policies are effective and how they can be improved.

Role of the Researcher

The role of the researcher in this particular study is primarily that of a recruiter and aggregator of data. This takes the form of the researcher being the primary point of contact when it comes to negotiating with the appropriate educational institutions, companies, government agencies, etc., in order to obtain the necessary amount of subject data from the various individuals within the areas where recruitment and direct face-to-face interviews will occur. During each individual interview/questionnaire distribution, I will communicate with the research subjects through a hired interpreter to give an overview of what is expected of the respondent.

Though it can be expected that some problems will occur involving the language barriers and subsequent translation of what the research subject meant when describing particular events and situations, it is expected that through communication and collaboration with the interpreter, some relevant means of effective data recording can be accomplished. This, unfortunately, brings up the issue of “interpretation bias,” wherein what was stated by the research subject is interpreted in such a way that it conforms to what the researcher is attempting to prove via the study. To prevent accusations of unethical manipulation of all data, interpretations will primarily be handled by the interpreter, with the data only being corrected for grammatical consistency to be effectively understood.

This ensures that the research data is consistent with proper academic ethics. It must also be noted that before the start of the data-collection process via interviews, the researcher will also need to play the role of a “teacher,” so to speak, to properly coach the interpreter regarding the purpose of the study and the various terminologies that will be utilized. 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 of a doctorate-level thesis.

As such, by ensuring that the translator is properly informed, this reduces the instances where problems may arise related to collected data that has very little relevant information that can be utilized within the study.

Research Design

The present study will utilize a mixed quantitative/qualitative research design to explore the impact of regional integration on trade and human migration. This methodological approach will objectively answer the key research questions. Hopkins (2000) noted that most quantitative research designs are concerned with determining the relationship between independent variables and dependent variables in a study’s framework. This study will thus rely on regression analysis to measure the relationships 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.

Not only that, but the econometric data of the last ten years of the CEMAC states will also be examined to create a more in-depth analysis of the economic effects of regional integration. Furthermore, the researcher will also rely on such qualitative methods as interviews to see how regional integration affected the lives of urban populations in Central African countries. Finally, it will be necessary to do a literature review to examine the effects of regional integration on border control.

Sekaran (2006) observed that most quantitative studies are either descriptive or experimental. The study will utilize a descriptive correlational approach because participants will be measured once. Furthermore, it is imperative to note that the study will employ a survey technique to collect participant data from the areas mentioned above indicated in the previous paragraph. According to Sekaran (2006), a survey technique is used when the researcher is principally interested in descriptive, explanatory, or exploratory appraisal, as is the case in this study.

The justification for choosing a survey approach for this particular study is grounded by the fact that participants will have the ability to respond to the data-collection tool by way of self-report. Thus, this project will utilize a self-administered questionnaire schedule for purposes of data collection. An analysis of related literature will be used to compare the study’s findings with other research on the impact of regional integration on trade and human migration (i.e., an examination of the European Union and ASEAN). Such analysis, according to Sekaran (2006), is important in identifying the actual constructs that determine efficient analysis because “it goes beyond mere description of variables in a situation to an understanding of the relationships among factors of interest” (p. 119).

Instrumentation

As mentioned earlier, aside from econometric data, this study will utilize a set of questionnaires to examine the perspective of residents of CEMAC member states regarding the impact of regional integration on their daily lives. This can consist of how it affects their ability to seek employment in other Central African states, how it has enabled the distribution of goods and services, and how it has impacted local entrepreneurship, as well as other such factors related to the positive effects of regional integration.

It is based on this that the research questionnaire will be geared toward members of urban populations and will focus on issues that primarily impact people who live within the various cities found in the Central African states that will be examined. Although the researcher acknowledges the fact that rural populations are also similarly impacted by regional integration, the fact remains that considering the sheer size of the Central African states and the inherent difficulty and danger in contacting people found in such locations, it was decided that for the sake of safety and expediency, the researcher should focus primarily on urban population sets.

Another factor that should be taken into consideration is the necessity to choose people who are more aware of regional integration and who take a more active part in this process. This can consist of scholars, traders, or those individuals who seek employment. Cluster sampling will be particularly helpful for this study. This approach will enable the researcher to find the respondents quickly and, above all, safely.

Context

The data-gathering procedure for the interview will be held over three weeks spanning Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, and Gabon. In each state, the researcher will spend approximately three or four days to gather the necessary research data. For the first day, the researcher will orient the necessary translator within the state. In contrast, the next two or three days will be spent arriving at the various organizations that were contacted beforehand to begin the data-gathering process.

The process will be divided into two distinct types of interviews, with one focusing on gaining an economic perspective, referring to how business owners and traders have been affected by regional integration. In contrast, the second type of interview will focus on the societal aspect of regional integration and how it affected people on an individual basis. This takes the form of inquiries regarding the ease of regional migration, whether people have found it easier to migrate from country to country as a direct result of a regionally integrated passport system, as well as other factors related to human migration.

Research Subjects

The research subjects for this particular study will consist of individuals recruited from various academic institutions, financial business districts, and a variety of recruitment companies within the Central African states. Because of the language barrier that exists between the researcher and the study participants, the researcher will need to hire an interpreter to both help in the approach of potential research subjects and to translate the necessary documents in a way that can be legibly understood.

Whenever possible, I will attempt to find research subjects who understand English to reduce the need and the inherent costs associated with hiring an interpreter. Furthermore, the individuals who will be utilized in the study must fulfill the following requirements to be considered viable enough to be included:

  • Must have a high degree of literacy to understand the concepts that the questionnaire and interview entail.
  • Must have a general awareness regarding the concept and impact of regional integration on their daily lives.
  • It should be an urban resident of the capital city of a CEMAC member state.
  • Should fall into one of the following categories: an academic, a local law enforcement officer, an active job seeker, a tradesman, an entrepreneur, or an individual that travels in between the CEMAC member states constantly.
  • The research subjects should also fall under the age demographic of 23 to 55 years of age to ensure they have developed sufficient awareness and experience regarding the impact of regional integration in their daily lives.
  • Last, the research subjects who are included in this examination should not be migrant workers from African states that are not part of CEMAC. This ensures that all responses will be based entirely on the experiences of residents, which ensures that the responses given are only applicable to the Central African states that are being examined.

Though it may be true that the level of research subject discrimination the researcher implements is indicative of a certain degree of undue manipulation of the study results, what must be understood is that because of the low level of literacy and a system of education that is far from ideal, this has, as a result, created a population set that has very little knowledge or even awareness regarding regional integration, economic initiatives, and a variety of similar topics that would be relevant to the study.

As I intend to analyze the impact of regional integration on trade and human migration, it would, of course, be necessary for the research subjects involved to have a certain degree of knowledge regarding this to produce a relevant contribution to the research material. Thus, the level of research-subject discrimination is justified in this particular case.

Population

Although the recruitment method and type of participants that will be utilized has already been explained, this section will detail the population set from which they will be obtained. On average, the population of the Central African states that are a part of this study can be considered as significantly lacking in both educational capacity and monetary resources. This is in part because of the minimal “trickle-down effect,” wherein a large percentage (80% to 90%) of the region’s wealth is isolated to a select few groups within their respective societies.

Not only that, but public utility expenditures and budget allocations for educational programs are among the lowest in the world. These combined factors result in the creation of a population set that is not only unaware that they are in effect being denied their rightful share of their country’s resources, but as a result, the current situation has also actually propagated widespread malnutrition because of a distinct lack of proper food and medical assistance. What this means for the research process is that it entails more selective recruitment of individuals that are more in tune with the various aspects related to the concept of regional integration.

What must be understood is that various studies that have examined the population of the Central African states have shown that on a local level, few individuals are even aware of the concept of regional integration, let alone understand the impact that a regional institution such as CEMAC has on their lives. This justifies the criteria the researcher outlined regarding research-subject selection because the responses must come from individuals that are directly involved and experience the effects of regional integration.

Justification for Utilizing Questionnaires

I determined that utilizing a combination of questionnaires and interviews was the most appropriate method to obtain firsthand accounts of the impact of regional integration at present and should prove to be invaluable since the data collected is from the direct perspective of entrepreneurs, academics, and employees of the various sectors of CEMAC member states, which would complement the data already presented within the literature-review section.

Study Concerns

This methodology exposes the participants to an assortment of risks that need to be taken into consideration during the research process. The main risk the participants will encounter is if any of their answers that criticize or indicate dissatisfaction with regional integration leaks. This may have consequences on the attitude and opinion of government institutions and officials toward them and could result in victimization. To eliminate this risk, the responses will be kept in an undisclosed location. This way, the only way to access the information will be through a procedure that involves the researcher. The project thus observes research ethics in sampling, as well as during the data-collection process.

Deciding on the Questions to be Used in the Interviews

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. I aimed 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.

Interview Questions

As explained earlier, the methodology I will utilize within this particular 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 to determine the various nuances they experience on a daily basis when it comes to regional integration.

I created the following questions based on an assessment of the research question, the data needed, and how pertinent they would be in terms of the participants’ being able to answer them. Also, 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. In contrast, the other set of questionnaires will encompass questions for job seekers, academics, policemen, and those who frequently travel between the CEMAC member States.

The questionnaire shown below may differ from the one utilized during the research process because of the necessity of having the local interpreter translate the questionnaire in such a way the local populace can understand it. 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:

  1. Within the past ten years, how has regional integration impacted your business? Has it helped in some way, or has trade been the same?
  2. When it comes to importing or exporting certain products, has regional integration made it easier or harder to trade certain goods?
  3. Have there been any significant improvements you have observed that have resulted in better business conditions for you?
  4. Has the flow of capital within the region been easier or harder as a direct result of regional integration?
  5. What percentage of your current workers are natives of your country?
  6. Has regional integration made it easier or harder for you to acquire adequate workers?
  7. Have things remained the same ever since the establishment of CEMAC during the early 1990s or has a significant degree of progress occurred in trade during the past few years?
  8. Do you generally agree with the concept of regional integration? Please elaborate on your answer.
  9. When it comes to exports, have you noticed any changes as of late as a direct result of regional integration?
  10. What would you like to see improved when it comes to regional integration? Please elaborate on specific actions, factors, policies, developments, etc., that, in your opinion, would facilitate better trade.

The following second set of questions is meant for individuals looking for jobs, who are part of the police force, or who travel in between the CEMAC member states:

  1. As a result of regional integration, has travel between the borders of the CEMAC member states been easier?
  2. Have you noticed any significant increases in trade-related travel?
  3. Is it easier for people looking for jobs to travel between the member states?
  4. Has there been an increase in human migration as a direct result of regional integration?
  5. Has regional integration resulted in an even distribution of job opportunities for all the CEMAC member states, or does one state present itself as having more opportunities than others?
  6. 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?
  7. What problems have you encountered when it comes to traveling between the CEMAC member countries?
  8. Based on your own experience, has regional integration actually resulted in better trade and human migration or is it the same as it was ten years ago?

Introduction

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 would be necessary to develop a means of formulating the interview questions in such a way that the responses would be more attenuated towards what the respondents would know.

It is based on this perspective that this research paper will utilize the following measures to better manifest the desired results of the study:

Analysis of Observations on Family and Acquaintance Migration

In this aspect of the study, the researcher will question the research participants involving their knowledge of migration patterns among their family members and acquaintances in and among the various member states of CEMAC. These questions will primarily focus on whether their family members have recently been migrating to other CEMAC states for better opportunities, whether their current friends and acquaintances are locals or are from other CEMAC countries 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, the researcher will be able to determine whether the ease of migration between 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 a local level would be 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 locals have been able to perceive such changes.

Examples of questions examining this particular aspect are: would you say that there have been greater levels 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), has there been significant changes in the prices and availability of food within the past few years, our prices the same throughout the region or are their significant price shifts within border regions. It is this and other such questions that will enable the researcher 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 businessmen and entrepreneurs rather than your average local citizen. In this aspect of the analysis, what will be examined is 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. There have been no significant changes within the past decade. Questions examining this 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.

Data-collection Process

Anderson (2004) noted that research that is performed rigorously could 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 to develop a sufficient platform from which effective and, above all, accurate conclusions can be developed. The data collection process will be quite straightforward; several weeks before leaving for the Central African region, I will utilize the Internet 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 located.

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 dialect of the selected region to inform the organization of My intent and whether it would be possible to conduct a series of interviews based on an attached questionnaire to examine the impact of regional integration on trade and human migration of the CEMAC member states. By asking permission before the data-collection procedure, this ensures I will not waste time in having to contact the necessary organizations upon arriving and can immediately proceed in collecting the needed data. Before arriving, I will also search for a local translator to help in the overall process of communicating with the research subjects upon arrival. The interviews will be conducted individually to ensure their alignment with the anonymity mentioned above 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 will 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 to show the impact of their opinions and ensure that responses were utilized in such a way that it complies with views that the participants intended to give out and are completely anonymous, thus preventing any possible victimization from occurring.

Alternative Procedure Based on Potential Data-gathering Problems

If I am unable to venture into specific CEMAC states because of a variety of potential problems (e.g., internal conflict within the country, availability of the necessary funding, travel restrictions, etc.), the following alternative data-gathering procedure should enable me to continue to gather the necessary data despite the potential problems that may arise. The procedure will include one interview with each individual. Collecting qualitative data through interviews from participants who are geographically spread out can present a challenge to the researcher (Sedgwick & Spiers, 2009). Because the researcher will contact a variety of businesses and institutions beforehand, it is possible to arrange an interview via alternative means. Communication technology, such as videoconferencing, can provide a solution. Zaltzman and Leichliter (2012) discussed the concept of new qualitative research.

As communication channels evolve with new technology, researchers will experiment with new qualitative options. Zaltzman and Leichliter (2012) presented two categories of qualitative options: real-time (synchronous or live) and not real-time (asynchronous). Video conferencing will fall into the real-time or live option with a one-on-one interview between the researcher and the participant. However, researchers must be aware of the pros and cons of using these new technological methods. Challenges of video teleconferencing include the fact that the participant may not be comfortable appearing on a live video (Zaltzman & Leichliter, 2012). Other challenges are confidentiality issues, the trust of the researcher, possible accessibility issues, and the security of the technology (Matthews & Cramer, 2008). The strength of video sessions includes increasing the researcher’s ability to access hard-to-reach populations and a greater comfort level for the participants because of their ability to interact in their own space (Zaltzman & Leichliter, 2012). There is also a benefit to the researcher in terms of decreased cost (Sedgwick & Spiers, 2009).

Conducting the interview by video teleconference will decrease the cost of data collection. At the same time, provide the interviewee with the opportunity to participate in the comfort of his or her own office. To the research participants, this method may provide a comfortable and relaxed environment, which may give them a feeling of control and possibly encourage free expression of knowledge and attitude regarding the impact of regional integration on trade and human migration. If any program manager is uncomfortable with this method, other data-collection accommodations will be made, such as traveling to meet with that individual personally. With the permission of the participants, the interviews will be digitally recorded.

Evaluating the Questionnaire Responses

Two methods may be used to score the test: 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 or 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, etc.).

The reason behind this is quite simple; the researcher is attempting to gauge the individual accounts of the research subjects in the form of data, which involves their accounts and experiences regarding regional integration. For example, question 3 reads: “Have there been any significant improvements you have observed that have resulted in better business conditions for you?” This particular 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 in the same way as other forms of information.

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 a thematic analysis to identify themes. Patton (2002) described this type of analysis as an 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 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. With such an analysis, I will obtain the findings in an unbiased manner.

Data Analysis – 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, analyses, 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 in the amount of 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 to more succinctly present the needed data for this study. The data from the study will also be analyzed using t-tests and MANOVA to determine any 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, otherwise referred to as consistency of measurement. To realize the reliability of the study findings, the researcher 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 the internal consistency of the study findings. In addition, the researcher 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 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, according to Golafshani (2003), the appropriate attributes of trustworthiness, rigor, and quality. Trustworthiness is the degree to which the reader can trust the findings (Shank, 2006). Shank (2006) pointed out that trust is not really established but is rather built and nurtured. I will first try to cultivate trust in the study participants by conveying to them that the research goal is simply to determine how they feel about regional integration and their views on it, 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. I will present the findings in such a way that the reader knows the study was conducted in a manner that produced trustworthy results.

The rigor of the study must be evident when the researcher presents the findings. A rigorous study is one that 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 IRB, and that the study was conducted by closely following that 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 to obtain true and valid data. The 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 the readers. Through the analysis methods, 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 minds (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, the researcher can 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 person will provide objectivity to what each interview said. A combined data review that includes other professionals, and I 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 residents of the Central African states on the topic of regional integration that may extrapolate to others, for instance, officials in the government who will be responsible for the implementation of local and regional policies.

Ethical Considerations

Possible ethical considerations that may arise through this study consist of the following:

  • The potential for unintentional plagiarism through the verbatim lifting of information, arguments, and points of view from the 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.
  • Falsifying the results of the research for the benefit of the initial assumptions of the study.
  • Using views and ideas without giving due credit to the 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, etc., explaining the main objective of the study and requesting their consent for participation. 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 on 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, it is expected that few ethical concerns will need to be addressed.

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Appendix A: 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 is 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:

  • Trade
  • Immigration
  • Work
  • Economic Hardship
  • Famine

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 B: 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 xxx who is a doctoral degree candidate.

Background Information

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.

Procedures

Should you agree to participate in this study; the following will be asked of you:

  1. 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.
  2. Give clear, concise, and, above all, honest answers on the questionnaire, as well as to the individual interviewing you.
  3. Fill out all the segments of the questionnaire.
  4. Indicate your demographic data on the questionnaire.
  5. 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.

Consent Form

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: __________________________

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