The private sector has been advised to be prepared for a possible fall out in trade following Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.
A statement from the Barbados Private Sector Trade Team (BPSTT) said while it is too early to determine the exact impact of Brexit on the local private sector as it pertains to trade, negotiations on the official exit should be monitored closely, “as such can point to how Britain will honour its current and future trade relationship with the EU and by extension the rest of the world”.
The BPSTT said this is important, given that the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) signed between the EU and CARIFORUM is silent on what will be the options available to CARICOM in the event that a member state withdraws from the EU.
The statement quoted trade consultant Shardae Boyce as saying that the EPA makes provisions, however, for CARICOM to be notified and provided with information if a new state joins the EU, and for CARICOM to review the effects of the accession of new EU member states and decide on any transitional or amending measures that might be necessary.
According to the BPSTT, Britain, a party to the agreement by virtue of being a member state of the EU, is Barbados’ main export partner within the EU bloc, and the critical question is whether the country will continue to honour its commitments made in the EPA, given that the country has decided to leave the EU.
“For now, the UK will continue to abide by EU treaties and laws but will not take part in any decision-making as it negotiates a withdrawal agreement and the terms of its relationship with the now 27-nation bloc.
“In the interim, the Barbados Private Sector Trade Team will be working with stakeholders to clearly identify the products and services that could be affected by Britain’s exit from the EU and to determine what actions, if any, would be necessary going forward,” the statement said.
The EPA, which was signed in 2008, allows preferential treatment to CARICOM and the Dominican Republic in the form of duty-free access to European markets for private sector products; the possibility of setting up a commercial presence in the EU; and the general opening of the EU market beyond WTO commitments in the services sectors, including creative and entertainment industries.