Brexit won't harm long-established ties with Jamaica


Brexit won't harm long-established ties with Jamaica

Sunday, February 02, 2020

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Jamaica's Foreign Minister Senator Kamina Johnson Smith seems pretty sanguine that relations between London and Kingston will remain intact even as the United Kingdom (UK) enters what some are calling uncharted waters after Brexit.

She has taken confidence in the assurance from the European Union (EU) that during the transitional period scheduled to end December 31, 2020, the UK will continue to apply all EU conventions, agreements, and arrangements.

While we acknowledge that there will be some uncertainty in this initial period after the withdrawal from the union, we in this space do not anticipate any shocks, especially because the bulk of our trade and interactions with Europe goes through London.

On Friday, after 47 years, the UK left the 28-member EU with which, it has often been argued, the UK had never been fully integrated, having not become part of the Euro and the common European visa.

With the world at the height of regionalism and globalism, we were surprised that the campaign to leave the EU turned out to be successful. It may be because of feelings of nostalgia for the UK's former role as a global power and the anti-immigration hysteria at the time.

The immediate uncertainty as Britain takes a leap into the unknown is centred around unresolved issues such as the Irish border questions and myriad operational issues, plus the costs of disengaging from the EU system.

The promised benefits are far off as negotiations for new trade agreements can take several years and the much-vaunted “special relationship” with the United States really depends on a lot of good faith.

If these difficult issues are not resolved the United Kingdom could break up as Scotland could secede.

But Jamaica does not appear to be in danger of any major adverse effects from Brexit, certainly if British High Commissioner to Jamaica Asif Anwar Ahmad — who has proven to be a good friend — is to be believed.

Ambassador Ahmad went on record on the eve of Brexit to say that the UK had recently completed and adopted a strategy for the Caribbean, including Bermuda, which the entire British Government would use to inform its interactions with governments in the region up to 2025.

“With the whole Brexit situation we have successfully negotiated, with CARIFORUM (Caricom plus the Dominican Republic), a deal which takes the economic partnership agreement which the EU currently has with CA RIFORUM, and on the day we leave it will be activated seamlessly,” he said.

The high commissioner insisted that with the trade agreement already signed, the UK had given itself an insurance policy which would ensure that there was no change, in terms of commercial transactions with the region, after Brexit, while any agreement in place with the EU would continue.

In respect of the important aid component of EU-Jamaica relations, he said there would be “no change in the aid profile of the EU here because we are not removing our money from the EU on day one”.

Critically, the British Government has already committed 400 million for multi-country programmes in the region, with over 100 million more to be committed shortly.

Of the total amount, 34.2 million was allocated for the Conflict Stability and Security Fund. In short, Brexit won't harm long-established ties with Jamaica

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