The United Kingdom’s (UK) top envoy in the Eastern Caribbean is assuring that the UK’s relationship with the region will not be adversely affected by its pending exit from the European Union (EU).
In fact, British High Commissioner Janet Douglas said a trade deal was currently being worked on which is similar to that which currently exists.
The UK has long been a major trading partner of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). However, following the June 2016 vote by British nationals in support of the UK exiting the EU, there have been mounting fears among some regional officials that this could negatively impact trade relations between CARICOM and Britain.
“To address that we have started discussions with Eastern Caribbean countries through the CARIFORUM [CARICOM and the Dominican Republic] Secretariat so that on the day after we leave the EU, so after March 31, 2019, there is as seamless as possible, a transition from the existing trade arrangements to the new trade arrangements,” Douglas explained during a recent courtesy call on Barbados TODAY’s Chief Executive Officer and Editor-In-Chief Kaymar Jordan.
The UK diplomat said while the concerns being raised by Eastern Caribbean leaders about the likely impact of the Brexit vote might have on the trade relations between the region and the UK were “understandable”, there was no need to fear.
In fact, Douglas told Barbados TODAY the UK government departments responsible for international trade had already designated special groups to carry out discussions with the region.
“They have been visiting the region regularly to talk to their CARIFORUM and CARICOM colleagues and are taking forward those discussions. The idea, as far as possible, is to replicate the existing trade agreement under the European Partnership Agreement
into a new arrangement between the UK and the Caribbean and CARIFORUM countries
on the day after we [leave the EU],” Douglas said.
“So that is what has been going on, and as part of that, in the summer this year a new international trade officer is being deployed to Bridgetown to the High Commission to work specifically on international trade issues including trade after Brexit,” she assured.