Minister of Immigration and Foreign Affairs Fred Mitchell said Britain’s exit from the European Union(EU) while very important will impact The Bahamas as well as other parts of the Caribbean however it is still too early to say with any certainty what that impact will be .
A decision was made on the June 23rd for the UK to exit from the EU following the overwhelming yes vote via a referendum.
The minister during a press conference held at the Goodman’s’ Bay Corporate Building said the result of leaving will likely impact the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and CARIORUM in the long run and by inference The Bahamas.
“It is worth noting that the UK must supply to the EU under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to begin the formal process of leaving the EU. Once application is made the UK has a two-year period to leave the EU,” he said.
“Very much this is a situation of watch and wait, we believe that the relationship is good with the United Kingdom the relationship is good with the remainder of the EU if the United Kingdom decides to exit.”
Mr. Mitchell says about $30 million of business is handled annually between the two countries and that the trade balance is in The Bahamas’ favor with some The Bahamas importing some $7 million from the UK.
He said this is just something he and his ministry will have to watch and wait for but should the UK officially leave the UK there would no longer be any structural trade agreement with the EU or Caribbean countries.
“The first objective for the UK would possibly be to negotiate trade agreements with the UE which is a considerably larger trading market than the Caribbean,” he said.
“Once the negations are completed it is anticipate that Britain will renegotiate trade agreements with the Caribbean, additional The Bahamas and CARICOM may have to enter into trade agreements with the UK.”
Furthermore, The Bahamas according to the minister enjoys strong tourism ties with the UK.
“The influx of tourists from the UK will be determined by the health and strength of the UK economy,” Mr. Mitchells said.
“If the UK economy and sterling is negatively affected due to Britain leaving the EU then it is possible that The Bahamas will experience a little decline in tourism numbers from the UK.
The EU has had a trade and development agreement with the Caribbean that spans over 20 years.
The Bahamas officially signed with the EU the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement in 2008 which made it easier for trade, business and investment between Caribbean countries to the EU.
The agreement also provided safeguards to protect trade and imports at a domestic and international level.