W. ANDREW AXLINE
Most cases of regional economic integration are among Third World countries, yet research in this field has been dominated by theory based on the European experience. The politics of integration among underdeveloped countries can be better understood within the framework of a theory designed to fit conditions in those regions. Contemporary economic theory provides a basis for such a theory. A successful integration scheme requires a high degree of political cooperation. The problem is that the type of integration scheme most likely to contribute to development is the most difficult to achieve. On the basis of the distribution of the costs and benefits of integration, the policy positions of national and subnational actors can be predicted on a broad range of integrative measures. The ultimate success of integration depends on the ability of relevant actors to negotiate coalitions in support of policies which will contribute to the development of the region as a whole and which will assure an acceptable distribution of these benefits within the region.
The literature on economic integration and development has pointed out that underdeveloped countries do not satisfy the criteria of neo-classical customs union theory and that they will not reap the traditional welfare gains from integration. There are, however, gains other than the traditional welfare gains which these countries can hope to realize through economic integration: gains of development and reduction of dependence. 1 To understand the political motivations leading to regional schemes, we must briefly examine the economic consequences of regional integration under conditions of underdevelopment. By examining the relationship among these consequences, particularly polarization and reduction of dependence, we can begin to understand the