Three tools to build the great region
In order to build this region, three tools are necessary: a think tank, a bank and a new coproduction model encouraging integration. As the Americas and Asian countries did, Europe should favour these three tools:
1. A think tank gathering the intellectual skills of all the region’s countries. It will be the intellectual and political reference for this great global region. Following the example of America, with the Economic Commission for Latin America, and Asia, with the ASEAN Institute of Economic Research, the AME region must create a think tank. Working on a few action programmes, this tool could promote the region, produce new future-oriented ideas and centralise knowledge via the sharing of strategic knowledge. The mediation and influence function of this think tank with international institutions and governments will be paired with a role of “intermingling” high-potential public, private and associative actors from both shores, via high-level seminars.
2. A development Bank capable of financing regional development large-scale projects necessary to regional integration and of financing the development of SMBs private sector. It would be the alternative expected by Mediterranean and African countries, to funds and development banks controlled by the great financial powers that often serve them as channel of influence instead of tools at the service of Nations’ development. It would represent a financial and technical support in keeping with the needs in terms of infrastructures and large-scale projects.
3. Integration via production (instead of trade). This partnership coproduction process with sharing of added value and technology transfer is perfectly suited to the relations between close countries with important differences (geographical, development level, etc.). This process ensures job creation in the North and in the South and falls within the logic of value chains spatial expansion, in search of the best skills to produce quality.
The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean was created in 1948 by resolution of the UN 106 Economic and Social Council to accelerate the reconstruction and the economic and political transition of South American countries. Its headquarters is in Santiago, Chile. The ECLA was a place of resistance during the dictatorships and revolutions periods that disrupted Latin America. Acting as a “laboratory” of Latino-American policies, it regularly publishes economic reports and influences South American governments. In July 1984, it included the Caribbean countries and took the name ECLAC.
The ECLA is one of the five regional commissions of the United Nations. It comprises 700 researchers, most of whom are economists, with a budget of 40 million dollars/year. Besides its headquarters in Santiago, it has 5 regional centres, offices in Buenos Aires, Brasilia, Montevideo, Bogotá as well as a liaison office in Washington. It represents the 33 countries of the South American sub-continent. It progressively expanded to 11 associated countries, among which the United States, Canada and some European States.
In this regard, we can cite the theory of self-sustained development associated to protectionism; the questioning of international work division; the promotion of intra-regional trade based on complementarity and proximity; the policy of industrial development and import substitution; the policy of export diversification; the interest in industrial research and the prospective approach.
All these concepts ensured the promotion of a Keynesian economy as opposed to free trade extolled by North America.
Intellectual and political cluster
The ECLA was a place for the gathering and intermingling of the new economic elites of the South American continent, strong characters were researchers there and conducted seminars, such as Raul Prebisch, who was the first ECLA director and first governor of the Argentinian central bank, or Celso Furtado, the Brazilian Minister of Planning. The commission trains executives for the administrations of all South American countries. It is a place of resistance to dictatorships, coups and to the hegemonic and liberal will of the United States. For its director, Mrs Alicia Barcena, the ECLAC is a “civilisation centre”.
With quite diversified missions, ECLA:
- mostly produces transversal economic studies (development, regional integration, trade, production, social development, planning, etc.);
- specialises in prospective and future-oriented works;
- produces each year statistic comparison tools of the 35 South American States;
- plays a central role in the development of a South American continental conscience;
- enables the intermingling of public and private elites;
- advises governments, with great influence;
- works in collaboration with the Inter-American Development Bank
The Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia is an international organisation inaugurated in May 2008 - following a proposition by Japan during the ASEAN summit in Cebu (December 2006-January-2007) and a ratification during the Singapore summit in November 2007 by 16 States. Toshihiro Nikai, Japan’s Minister of Economy, expressed the idea of creating a think tank that could become the equivalent of the OECD.
The United States firstly opposed this project of economic partnership covering the whole area and of which it would not be part, hence its support to the APEC.
Settled in the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta, the ERIA examines the Japanese project of an extended economic partnership in East Asia.
Apart from its main governance body, the major decision centre, ERIA comprises international experts, mostly economists.
Its governance bodies feature:
- The Academic Advisory Council (AAC), which comprises experts from the whole region as well as academics, representatives of research institutions, of the public sector, international and non-governmental organisations. They provide advice and support to the executive regarding the annual work programme, the assessment of research work and researchers performance. Their first meeting took place in 2009.
One of ERIA’s main objectives is to build and reinforce policies linked to research and development in the less developed countries of the Asian region.
ERIA’s researches cover various fields such as trade and investments, globalisation, sustainable development, social and human development, infrastructure development and energy-oriented issues.
Intellectual and political cluster
In order to spread its works and ideas, as well as to find funding, ERIA organises seminars in the large Asian region. This also enables to provide a sense of belonging to a unique regional community.
ERIA publishes reports, debate reports and policy briefs presenting its main ideas and recommendations. The ERIA bi-monthly Newsletter follows the evolution of research topics and other activities.
ERIA lies at the centre of a network of Research Institutes (RIN) which, since 2009, gathers all East Asian research centres. This network is considered as the key to success for research works covering the whole area, enabling to collect information on the concerned countries and to share strategic information destined to the region’s elites and decision-makers.
The programme is led by the Japanese, but it now associates the researches of most Asian institutes on this topic. It is them, for instance, who defined the outlines of ASEAN’s connectivity plan.
The mandate given to ERIA by the ASEAN summit states that it must make recommendations to the region’s decision-makers and Ministers regarding economic development, regional integration and reinforcement of partnerships of ASEAN and East Asian countries.
ERIA conducted a series of projects as part of the Comprehensive Asia Development Plan (CADP), a consistent plan that should help coordinating the expansion and development of initiatives and partnerships in the region and encourage the participation of the private sector in this field (public/private partnerships).
It is invested with four missions:
- Reinforcing regional integration (by supporting ASEAN);
- Reducing development gaps;
- Shifting towards the sustainable development of the great region;
- Developing the sense of belonging to a unique East Asian community.
 Comprehensive Economic Partnership in East-Asia (CEPEA), the project of which is to associate 16 countries of the East Asian community (ASEAN 10 + Australia, China, South Korea, Japan and New Zealand).
The concept of North/South and South/North integration has always been the foundation of IPEMED’s work. The concept was acknowledged by the Board of Directors Meeting on 6 May 2015. As early as the beginning of 2015, this project received the support of the President of the African Union, of the President of the Arab League and of the Secretary-General of the European External Action Service (EEAS).
IPEMED’s team currently ensures its promotion and develops this project. Once settled, in a few years, it will comprise four centres:
- the original headquarters in Paris;
- a centre in North Africa;
- a centre in the Middle East;
- a centre in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Since the support of the European Commission is required to carry out this project, a liaison office in Brussels will be necessary. The Vertical needs the (political and financial) support of institutions but also of private actors, and especially of companies. The headquarters, with multiple functions, will be granted an annual budget of 10 million. An extra 10-million budget will have to be created to ensure the operation of the three centres. Once stable (in 2020), the Verticale should have a budget of 20 million, which is well below other international think tanks (ECLAC and ERIA).
Among the Foundation’s innovative ideas lie: coproduction and industrial development, self-sustained and inclusive development, land planning and local development, promotion of social and solidarity economy.
La Verticale missions
The Verticale foundation must become the intellectual and political cluster of the great African-Mediterranean-Europe region. To take this role on, it will fulfil five functions:
- think tank to overcome the knowledge deficit on this region and to come up with future-oriented new ideas ;
- leading a movement of business managers in order to focus regional integration on development projects;
- mediation and influence with international institutions and Governments;
- “intermingling” of northern and southern public, private and associative decision-makers, via high-level seminars;
- integration and mutualisation of strategic information.