Since the inauguration of the Caribbean Free Trade Association (CARIFTA) in May, 1968, there has been an evolutionary process of continual conceptualisation and implementation. Over the more than forty years of this process, there have been generated descriptive terms and phrases specific to the development of the countries involved.

Those terms and phrases now number more than a thousand. While they have facilitated discussions amongst technical experts about the economic and structural changes proposed, required, and projected, even among those experts they have comprised a new language. As with all languages which remain dynamic, one has to become familiar with new words and forms of expression as these arise. There is the burden generated of a new vocabulary; and for ordinary folk there arises the possible onset of confusion, just at the time when maximum support and understanding is required for success of the integration process.

The new terms and phrases are associated with abbreviations and acronyms that have crept into the lives of ordinary persons in the Caribbean. These citizens wish to, and need to, get on with their lives while understanding what is taking place in the dimensions of regional integration and cooperation. Accordingly, any mechanism or device that will make such understanding less puzzling to achieve must be welcome.

This guide to selected acronyms and abbreviations is intended to be such a device. Its purpose is to give easy access to the meanings of acronyms frequently used in the discussions of the process of Caribbean integration. The guide therefore focuses primarily on Caribbean related terms and phrases; but it also supports understanding of the wider international terminology that often relates to the Caribbean issues under consideration.

Also, it is recognised that merely apprising someone of what an acronym or abbreviation stands for does not necessarily provide an adequate understanding of the concept that led to the abbreviation. Accordingly, the guide provides links to a section of extended information that concludes with a recommendation of possible sources for further reading. Finally, in order to ensure its currency, this guide will be revised and updated periodically in accordance with the generation of new abbreviations.