OPINION: Brexit – the Caribbean must seize the moment

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(The Caribbean Council) Brexit offers the opportunity for the Caribbean to redefine its relationship with Britain. In this week’s View from Europe, David Jessop suggests some ways in which it might chose to do so.

Last month Britain held an Africa investment summit. It was live streamed and hosted by the country’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson. In the words of the UK government, it was aimed at ‘strengthening its economic partnerships with African nations, as part of a Government drive to ensure the continent’s growing demand for investment is met by the UK’s expertise and innovation’.

The intention was to demonstrate that having all but left the European Union (EU), Britain post-Brexit is looking to find new ways to engage.

Thankfully, the event was low on imperial nostalgia, something still worryingly prevalent within parts of Britain’s ruling Conservative Party. Although lacking the weight and vison of similar summits held previously by the EU, China, Russia, and others, it indicated in its own way that Britain is hoping to find a new global role.

The conference saw commitments made to African development and offered the continent’s political and business leaders the opportunity to indicate what they require from the future relationship.

Investment apart, the focus was on issues that are as relevant to the Caribbean as to Africa. These include greater services access, a more helpful regulatory regime for imports into Britain, changes to visa and migration rules, and the need to address impediments to remittances from the African diaspora in the UK. That said, some participants were critical of the UK’s failure to commit more financially in ways that match the importance the UK’s professes to place on a closer relationship with African nations, or to indicate more clearly a strategic approach.

This April the Caribbean too will have the opportunity to discuss how a post-Brexit Britain outside of the EU intends to relate to the countries of CARIFORUM and Britain’s five overseas territories Then, Caribbean ministers and officials and their UK counterparts will discuss various aspects of the relationship, and one hopes to agree how the UK might in the decade ahead transform its ties with the region.

Read more at: The Caribbean Council

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