British High Commissioner Janet Douglas thumbing through the Barbados Legacy publication presented to her by CEO Anthony Shaw during her courtesy call Wednesday. (Picture by Gercine Carter.)
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Trade and access to the European Union Development Fund after Britain exits the European Union are top concerns for the Caribbean.
They are the two issues that British High Commissioner Janet Douglas said Wednesday would affect Caribbean countries most and during a courtesy call on Nation Group CEO Anthony Shaw, she advised Britain was working with Caribbean governments for transition arrangements for trade after Brexit.
She pointed out such a discussion was “incredibly important, because we don’t want to get to the end of March 2019 and everything stops. We have to be in a position to be able to carry on working with partner countries on all aspects, particularly on trade”.
Britain will officially leave the EU on March 29 and Douglas said: “We need to have in place some arrangements that mean that everybody can carry on the day after we leave, in the same way as they were behaving on the day before.”
She disclosed British specialists on international trade, specifically tasked with talking to the Caribbean countries through CARIFORUM and CARICOM, were paying visits to the region for ongoing discussions on the matter.
In addition, a specialist international trade advisor will be attached to the British High Commission in Barbados this summer, to assist with advancing the trade talks.
Douglas also said Caribbean governments were very concerned about the future of European Development Funding after Brexit and were asking questions about the post-Brexit arrangements a and whether the UK would still be giving money through the EU Development Fund.
“People are quite concerned to know if the UK detaches itself from that funding mechanism, will it be giving the same amount in the same way,” Douglas said.
“My answer to everyone who asks me that at the moment is that it is really impossible at the moment to say how that will work because we are still at that negotiation stage with the EU.”
The high commissioner also said there was a focus on preparation for the 2018 hurricane season. She disclosed discussions were already being held with regional agencies such as the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), the Regional Security System and governments around the region, about response to any disaster. (GC)