Whither the future for Britain and the Caribbean

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Print this page Email A Friend!

The deep historical bonds and long tradition of cooperation on a range of matters have made Britain a key partner for Jamaica and the Caribbean, even if the United Kingdom (UK) is no longer the largest trade partner after the demise of banana and sugar exporting.

Britain is, however, our main port of entry for goods going to the European Union (EU) market. Over 900,000 people of Caribbean heritage live in the UK, 200,000 British passport holders live in the Caribbean, and 800,000 United Kingdom citizens visit the region each year.

Britain is an empathetic and supportive diplomatic ally in international fora. Certainly, Britain was a key backer in the EU where, because of this, the Caribbean has been overly complacent in developing a more comprehensive diplomatic presence in Europe.

The Caribbean faces significant challenges in respect of which Britain could be an important and supportive ally. The absence of the supporting role of the UK would weaken the diplomacy on behalf of the Caribbean in the negotiation for an agreement to replace the Cotonou Agreement.

Whatever the outcome of the Brexit debate the episode has psychologically damaged the faith of regionalism, which has been elevated to the level of a fundamentalist religion tenet. It comes at a time when regionalism in the Caribbean has stalled.

The current model of regionalism has been overtaken by internal and external developments and needs to be reinvented, taking into consideration issues relating to the United States Administration, Cuba, China, Venezuela, migration and climate change.

The region has one of the highest murder rates in the world and the threat to the UK from serious and organised crime in the region is increasing. This hampers economic growth by discouraging business and investment. Comparing the murder rate in Britain and in Jamaica and Trinidad indicates that there is a lot to be learnt from the British on crime prevention and modern policing.

The uncertainty surrounding Brexit is a major concern, although the question of the framework governing trade has been settled by encompassing terms — essentially the same as the existing EU-CARIFORUM Economic Partnership Agreement. The question is still will there be a United Kingdom of Great Britain? If England leaves and Scotland stays, what is the status of the agreement?

British aid has maintained a sound contribution in strengthening the judiciary and training for the police. However, aid policies and priorities need to be aligned with the ongoing needs of small and middle-income developing countries, eg the infrastructure deficit, climate change and combating corruption.

Both the UK and the Caribbean need to envision a new role for the Diaspora.

The new Diaspora comprises young, multinational, globally oriented persons not born in the Caribbean. They have allegiance to the Caribbean and are not looking to retire here, but to engage in trade and investment.

The recent visit to Jamaica by the director for Latin America and the Caribbean in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office would therefore have been a reassuring gesture.

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at




1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper � email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed:

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email:

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

comments powered by Disqus



Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon