Before the end of this month, Britain’s Prime Minister, Theresa May, will invoke article 50 of the European Treaty, starting a process that will lead to the UK leaving the European Union (EU) in 2019.
A few days ago, an astute observer of the US political scene told me: “Watch what the new administration and Congress does, not what the President tweets.
Unless the sugar industry in Caricom can develop in the coming months a co-ordinated and concerted plan of action, it is quite possible that in a few years’ time there will be little left of an industry which, for evil and good, has played a central role in the making of the Caribbean.
“Tourism is a vital sector to the economies of Member States”. So said Caricom Heads of Government in the communiqué that followed their recent inter-sessional meeting in Georgetown, Guyana.
In the last few weeks, Washington think tanks, financial services analysts in New York and London, and publications from the New York Times to the Petroleum Argus, have all found a reason to express a view on Guyana, the Caribbean nation they now see as set to become one of the Western hemisphere’s major oil producers.
When it comes to Cuba, the world’s media tends to focus on the obvious: the possible outcome of the new US administration’s policy review, the multiple difficulties faced by Cuba’s over-centralised planned economy, or the implications of Fidel Castro’s passing.
In the coming months, it is likely that the way in which governments think about international trade and their fundamental values will evolve rapidly, as the promises and threats that President Trump made on the campaign trail become US policy.
Late last November the Government of Antigua gave notice to the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) Disputes Settlement Body (DSB) that if the United States did not reach “an appropriate and beneficial settlement” in relation to a legal adjudication made previously in its favour, it would act to recover the revenue it has lost.
Few people understand how great the daily pressures are on a prime minister or a president.
On December 13, the US Congress sent to President Obama The United States-Caribbean Strategic Engagement Act of 2016 for signature into law.
At the end of last month, China published a detailed 16-page document, ‘China’s Policy Paper on Latin America and the Caribbean’, which sets out a new approach to relations between the Americas and the world’s second largest economy.
On November 28, the US President-elect, Donald Trump said that “if Cuba is unwilling to make a better deal for the Cuban people, the Cuban/American people and the US as a whole, I will terminate deal”.
While most of the world has been focused on the outcome of the US presidential elections, other events of long-term importance to the region have been taking place.
What does solidarity between nations mean in the early twenty first century? Are the values inferred practical or advisable, in a multipolar world in which self-interest, overlapping relationships and multiple economic and political ideas compete?
After a period of uncertainty, it has been confirmed that the Paris Agreement on Climate Change will enter into force on November 4.
How should the anglophone Caribbean respond to Brexit? Should it, based on the expert advice it has received from the Caricom Secretariat and its own trade negotiators, now be actively exploring with the UK an approach that secures an equivalent trade relationship to that which it has with the EU under the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA)?
A few days ago the US President, Barack Obama, gave what in effect was a farewell address to the United Nations General Assembly.
Over the next ten years it is likely that the ways in which we all think about the Caribbean will change radically.