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Why Brexit Has Left Major Concerns in the Caribbean

Britain’s decision to exit the European Union could have major impacts on the Caribbean, leaving significant uncertainties for the region’s relationship not only with the UK, but also with the rest of Europe.

While the parting is very unlikely to impact visa free travel agreements with the Caribbean, there are major potential negative impacts to the country’s economy coming from changes in trade and development flows, and a decrease in the region’s influence in Europe. While it will take a while for the full impacts of Brexit to be known, in the meantime the uncertainty will also be damaging. For residents of the Caribbean, there is justifiable concern.

Speaking about the implications of Brexit, Dominica Prime Minister, the Hon, Roosevelt Skerrit told a radio station in his homeland that: “The decision to leave the EU is going to have major, major impact to developing economies like ours which rely heavily on development assistance from the EU.”

As the UK renegotiates its global trading agreements, where it will prioritize the Caribbean is unclear. Brexit will see the UK cease its major contribution to European development funds and probably develop new bilateral programs of its own, leaving major uncertainty when it comes to both the fate and future of EU funded development programs. Of which the Caribbean is highly dependent on, including the CARIFORUM Economic Partnership Agreement.

One of the major concerns is what voice will the Caribbean have in the European Union. With a few Caribbean countries members of the Commonwealth, the UK had long been the voice of the Caribbean in meetings with European Commission and other EU meetings, giving the Caribbean a voice in a group where the region would have no other influence.

Faced with having to renegotiate its trading agreements globally, where the UK will prioritize the Caribbean is unclear. But, according to British High Commissioner to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Victoria Dean “the re-energized partnership between the UK and the Caribbean”, launched by Prime Minister David Cameron on his visits to the region last year, would continue.

Going forward, the Caribbean will work to maintain their relationship with Britain, but also will not want to alienate the EU. For a healthy economy, proper relationships with both regions are essential for the Caribbean’s economic health. Commenting on the situation once more, the High Commissioner added “I should be clear that nothing will change overnight. British tourists will keep coming to the region, keep contributing to the local economy and keep enjoying these beautiful islands”.