Brexit concerns intensify PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 06 April 2017 09:58

Now Brexit has been triggered, does the Caribbean have anything to fear?

Nine months ago, a majority of British nationals shocked the world when they voted “Yes” in a referendum to determine if the United Kingdom (UK) should leave the European Union (EU).

Last week, this departure moved closer to reality when the UK government officially notified the EU that it wanted a divorce.

Ever since the vote to leave took place last June, there have been questions about what impact the British exit would have on international trading partners, including Barbados and other Caribbean countries.

Now that the Theresa May-led administration has officially signalled it is leaving EU, such concerns have either re-emerged or intensified.

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) reported last week that thousands of EU laws on everything from workers’ rights to the environment were to be transferred into UK law. It is expected that the UK will officially no longer be a member of the EU from March 2019.

The BBC said “Brexit Secretary David Davis said the Great Repeal Bill would allow the UK Parliament and Welsh, Scottish and Northern Ireland administrations to scrap, amend and improve laws. It would also end the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice”.

Davis was reported as saying the repeal bill would allow businesses to continue operating on the day after the UK leaves the EU “knowing the rules have not changed overnight”. It would also make trade talks easier because member states “will know that we start from a position where we have the same standards and rules”.

British domestic matters are likely to assume the greatest importance now that the Government has triggered Article 50 to leave, which means that countries like Barbados will have to play a waiting game to see what the future holds for them.

Some analysts have, however, started to give assessments on what Brexit could mean for the international community, including the Caribbean.

One of those areas was tourism, which is an important area for Barbados since the UK is its major tourism source market.

Last week, a poll by said the good news for destinations like the Caribbean was that “fears over soaring prices, increased bureaucracy and a less than friendly reception top the list of worries for British holidaymakers in a post-Brexit Europe”. That’s according to a news report published by

“Many travellers plan to take their future holidays in the [United States], Caribbean, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand or in the UK instead. The company found that more than three quarters of the 2 000 people surveyed are concerned about holidaying in a post-Brexit Europe,” it said.

Almost half of those asked cited the potential impact on the strength of the pound and less value in their holiday wallets as their primary worry, the report added.

Company analysis of 25 million searches across 18 months suggested that consumers were making significantly fewer searches for flights to the EU in favour of longer-haul destinations. Searches for flights to the Caribbean had increased by 20 per cent.

Digby Jones, a former director general of the Confederation of British Industry, who also once served as a British minister of state for trade and investment, said a post-EU UK should focus more on the Commonwealth, which would positively impact regions like the Caribbean.

“The UK’s vote to leave the EU presents British businesses, large and small, with significant export opportunities with the rest of the world – and in particular with Commonwealth countries. In fact, UK businesses are calling for much closer ties and the government must listen,” he said.

Jones said “almost a third” of British business leaders, who were quizzed in a study commissioned by The Royal Commonwealth Society (RCS) and UK agency PLMR, “highlight the Caribbean” as a market to focus attention on in a post-Brexit UK.

Speaking last week after May officially gave notice of the UK Brexit decision, president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, said remaining members of the group were “more determined” and “more united”.

“Today I can say that we will remain determined and united also in the future, also during the difficult negotiations ahead,” he said. He added that there was a need to protect the interest of the EU’s other 27 members.

RBC Caribbean group economist Marla Dukharan said Brexit presented both risks and opportunities for the Caribbean.

“It is up to us in the Commonwealth and Cariforum to make a united push to grab the opportunity that Brexit represents with respect to trade in particular. I think the UK will look more to the Commonwealth and to non-EU trading partners post-Brexit than before, such as US, Canada, and maybe even [Latin American and the Caribbean],” she said.

“…The Caribbean and indeed the rest of the world needs to wake up to the reality that we are living in a highly volatile world, where ‘shocks’ are more frequent from varied sources including climate change and geopolitics. Uncertainty is a certainty, not just the new normal. As a region, we need to work on building resilience, which is a whole other conversation.”


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