A CSME Scorecard

First Published: 2005-05-26

A brief statistical analysis of the CSME treaty participants provides a comparative insight regarding Bahamian membership in the proposed regional federation. What is highlighted by this analysis is that given the proposed CSME group, the Bahamas stands apart in several significant areas.

Of the 14 members, The Bahamas represents only 4.68% of the group's total population – which is a statistically insignificant proportion.

The populations of the four largest members include 5,023,903 citizens, or 78% of the total proposed CSME's population. Even if voting as a block, the ten smallest members – including The Bahamas – comprise only 22.1% of the population, which is less than a quarter of the CSME's population. Not enough to swing a majority vote.

Thus ten of the 14 states are subject to the mercy of the four largest.

The four largest States are also significantly poorer, with an average income of $5,675 per capita, less than one-third of the economic productivity attained by Bahamians. Excluding 20% of this group, which represents the oil & gas driven economy of Trinidad and Tobago, the remaining 80% of the "group of four's" population has an average annual per capita GDP of only $4,066: less than one-quarter the annual productivity of The Bahamas.

It is obvious that economically, The Bahamas enjoys a much higher standard of living compared with all other CSME members, save Barbados. Statistically, the Bahamian GDP is 235% higher than the group's average – a tremendous difference.

The emigration rate for the region is on average significantly higher than that experienced by The Bahamas: averaged on a 14-member basis, Bahamians emigrate at 37% of the regional emigration average. This points to a much more stable – and satisfied – population than found regionally. In fact, ten members had higher rates of emigration, and two more have rates that were unmeasured.

Besides the economic and population differences, there is an important geographical distinction. The Bahamas is physically removed from the entire CSME, with seven national territories in between, including significant landmasses with very large populations when compared with The Bahamas.

Between The Bahamas and the rest of the CSME are Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and territories of the United States, United Kingdom, France and the Netherlands. Kingston is more than 400 miles from Nassau, and the CSME's center of mass lies some one thousand miles to the southeast in the Antilles. From a perspective of physical access, The Bahamas is actually isolated from its other CSME relations. The natural routes of trade and migration pass through countries that are not only much larger, but actually have more direct impact upon the daily life, national concerns and policies of The Bahamas.

Historically, The Bahamas' ties are with its immediate neighbors.

In summary, The Bahamas contrasts as vastly wealthier and significantly smaller as compared with the CSME's proposed membership. The statistics show that The Bahamas is a blessed nation. The benefits of joining can only dilute Bahamian's many wonderful national accomplishments. As such, The Bahamas shouldn't sacrifice or jeopardize its precious – and regionally unique – standing as a successful and sovereign nation.

THE NASSAU INSTITUTE
May 24, 2005

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