Rita Giacalone, Los Empresarios frente al Grupo de los Tres: integracion, intereses e ideas, Nueva Sociedad, 1999 (190 pages). ISBN 980-317-159-3.
The book aims at a theoretical and comparative analysis of the role of national business actors as representatives of, and the articulated voice for, business' demands and interests, concerning the trilateral attempt at regional integration and co-operation called Group of Three (G-3) among Mexico, Colombia and Venezuela. Since January 1995, the G-3 is not only a free trade area but also a customs union in progress. The author's approach draws from several theoretical streams and case studies, but in particular from neo-functionalism (with Haas as its most representative author), with the aim of explaining the link between (1) the predominant economic ideas and interests of both business and governments in each country, and (2) the origin, negotiations, approval and implementation of the treaty that established the G-3 in June 1994. Primary sources consist of business actors' discourses on RI and a few personal interviews, supported by a rich bibliographical research as secondary source. Specifically, the book concentrates on business associations of national scope and their relationship with the national governments, and on their overall support or rejection of the various regional integration (RI) alternatives, all embedded in the history of each country's economic development.
The author's concern seems placed, above all, on the political effects of the RI policy as well as on the issue of leadership in national policy formation and implementation. In this sense, RI is considered by the author as a state-led foreign economic policy. In so far as the field of international relations is involved, the author's concern relates to the institutionalization of the G-3, as a 'process of internationalization of new identities and interests... that reaches the cognitive [level] through socialization' (page 31).
In the 1990s economic model, RI arrangements lock in the changing relationship between State and business by supplying certainty and permanence through the inclusion of the new model into a regional system of alliances. In such a manner, the new 'open regionalism' role would be to actively insert the RIA into the world markets, with the expectation of bringing it closer to technological progress.
Chapter 1 revises the theoretical developments on RI within the field of foreign policy analysis as well as international relations, and draws an eclectic approach from many authors in order to define the research question: 'Which are the causes of national preferences toward RI in the 1990s?'. To answer, the author suggests to probe into two main issues: the role of business associations in preference and coalition-formation, and the existence of a locus for efficient transactions in which the locus of State regulation would coincide with the one of enterprise activity. This exploration will remain at the domestic level or at the 'inverted-second image analysis' in Gourevitch' words, through the exploration of 1) which and how ideas influenced the constitution or restructure of support coalitions to RI and, 2) whether both interest groups and domestic policies converge. Ideas are seen as influential through socialization, as they provide 'focal points' for transnational epistemic communities with access to governments in a given time period. Preferences, on the other hand, are considered contextual and mediated by information and institutions.
Chapter 2 traces the history of the G-3 agreement. An offspring of both the Andean Pact and the political process of 'concertacion' and mediation in the Central American armed conflicts (i.e. the Contadora Group, the Group of 8 and the Rio Group), the G-3 is also a response to the new wave of regionalism throughout the continent, notably NAFTA and the proposal for a continental free trade area (FTA), framed within the unilateral path towards liberalization in each country. …