Barbadian Harvard graduate, Paula Byer, has called on policymakers in the Commonwealth Caribbean to reposition their foreign affairs and international economic policies quickly in response to the exit of the UK from the European Union or suffer the medium term consequence of economic decline.
“A troubled EU economy, triggered by the fallout of the referendum vote, may have a sharper impact initially for the Commonwealth Caribbean than the global recession of 2008. Not only will private sector flows be placed in jeopardy for the rest of 2016-2018 because of economic aftershocks, but a possible dark future of public sector grant aid must rest heavily on the minds of Caribbean leaders,” she said.
According to Byer, “The small, vulnerable open economies of the region, which are heavily dependent on tourism and trade from the European Union, must wait out a period of further external economic contraction. This is so, since Britain and the EU are now intensifying the diversion of scarce resources to address domestic political and business disquiet. Britain’s focus will be on exiting while keeping an eye on Scotland, at the same time the EU pushes to consolidate in the grim hope that citizens of major economies on the mainland do not request similar exits following the British lead.”
“Britain’s decision to exit has shocked the global pro-integration movement, and the region must avoid at all cost ‘bandwagonism’. Both CARICOM and the OECS must strengthen the cords which bind and move towards deepening the regional integration movement,” she warned. “The Revised treaties of Basseterre and Chaguaramas must be implemented in ways to better serve our citizens,” Byer pointed out.
Additionally, it was suggested that in the repositioning by Commonwealth Caribbean countries, a clear policy must be pursued immediately, to strengthen diplomatic relations and form alliances with EU and British departments and overseas territories in the region such as Martinique, Guadeloupe, St Martin, St Maarten, Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao and the British Virgin Islands.
Byer concluded that there is a need in the region for mass public sensitization on the impact of Britain’s exit. “Technicians must study the subject matter carefully. A slow British pound recovery will impact on the prospects of banana farmers in St Lucia exporting to the UK. Will it be more advantageous then to trade in the region? A British couple on honeymoon in Barbados or the Grenadines will need to use more British pounds to purchase their next dinner than they had originally budgeted a week ago, that’s the real translation.
Though the days ahead appear uncertain as the fifth largest economy in the world recovers our recovery from the 2008 global meltdown is proof that with carefully planned policies the region can reposition for better,” she explained.