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CARICOM warned not to go the ‘Brexit’ route

As the world anxiously awaited the outcome of Wednesday’s Brexit’s referendum, a University of the West Indies political scientist today suggested that Barbados and its Caribbean neighbours would be better off if Britain remains a member of the European Union (EU).

Lecturer in political science and international relations Dr Kristina Hinds-Harrison told Barbados TODAY a vote which favoured Britain severing ties with the 28-nation bloc would have serious implications for Barbados and other CARICOM countries that have signed on to the Economic Partnership Agreement, which governs trade with the EU.

“This agreement would, in some ways, be a lot less meaningful because the major trade partner for the English speaking Caribbean countries would no longer be a member of the EU. So this kind of relationship would have to be renegotiated or negotiated outside of the context of the EU and that certainly is an inconvenience,” she said.

World economists and politicians forecast that a vote for Britain to leave the EU, known as ‘Brexit’, would be catastrophic for Britain and could create economic and political shockwaves across Europe, the United States and the rest of the world.

“This would not be just an issue for the Caribbean, but really for many states around the world that have relationships with Britain as part of the EU,” the UWI lecturer agreed.

She added that Britain’s exit would also lead to uncertainty on other issues, including immigration, development funding and trade for Barbados and the region.

“When I am talking about trade, I don’t mean just trade in goods, but also trade in services, the ability for people to provide services. These things will have to be renegotiated.”

Today’s referendum followed a bitterly fought four-month campaign, which saw Prime Minister David Cameron pitted against senior colleagues in his own party, who were campaigning for Britain to leave.

Cameron has argued that the country would be “stronger, safer and better-off” in the EU, but the Leave campaigners – headed by former mayor of London and Conservative MP Boris Johnson – have countered that the only way Britain could “take back control” of its own affairs would be to leave the EU.

Dr Hinds-Harrison noted that while CARICOM states should pay attention to the UK developments, they should not contemplate turning their backs on the regional integration movement.

“I would really hate to think that an exit from the EU would be some kind of example to be followed in the region.

“We are sovereign states and we should be able to make decisions on what is beneficial for us as independent countries. If we cannot do that and we are so willing to follow the example of what is happening in Europe, that really is a damning indictment, not of regional integration, but of politicians and politics in the region,” she warned.

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