In June 2016 the United Kingdom voted to exit the EU, but failed to identify what sort of exit it wanted leading to confusion and uncertainty. This is already being felt in the Caribbean as six British Overseas Territories (BOT) brace for Brexit, especially Anguilla that’s so dependent on Sint Maarten for its services and goods. Barriers after a (no-deal) Brexit will be felt not only by Anguilla, but also Sint Maarten with which Curaçao shares a monetary union.
The potential political implications shouldn’t be minimized either. Brexit could easily embolden the Eurosceptic movements that are plotting to use it as blueprint to exit the EU, like Austria, Denmark and The Netherlands.
Brexit’s global impact will probably be mostly felt in the financial markets. A Brexit will push capital toward the US lowering market interest rates, making the US dollar stronger and putting pressure on an increasingly weak US economy. A strong dollar could negatively affect tourist arrivals here from Europe. No wonder Brexit and a possible US recession were high on the agenda of a recent gathering of experts in Barbados.
A large part of Anguilla’s transport, health services and food comes from Sint Maarten. Anguilla’s tourists invariable arrive via Sint Maarten. If Sint Maarten as result of Brexit is restricted from free movement of people, goods and services with BOTs, this will certainly mean a setback for the island’s economy, foreign exchange and our monetary union. These restrictions could also lead to contraband among neighbors who depend on each other.
Yet these concerns have not been flagged up enough by our policy and opinion makers. We currently have lots of pressing problems. I get it. But when we look carefully we will realize that many of today’s problems are yesterday’s issues we failed to deal with.