flags of UK and EU combined over icons of London - Brexit concept

ST GEORGE’S, Grenada (CMC) — Caribbean Community (Caricom) countries say they will continue to regard the United Kingdom as a member of the European Union until December 31, this year.

Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago and Belize, have issued separate statements acknowledging the decision by the United Kingdom to leave the 28-member grouping on Saturday.

The Caricom countries said that the formal notification of Britain’s withdrawal has also noted that provision has been made for a transition period until December 31, 2020, within which European Union law will continue to be applicable to the United Kingdom.

“Thus, any reference to member states in EU law as implemented and applied by member states, shall be understood as including the United Kingdom.

“Grenada welcomes the approach to EU international agreements during the EU-UK transition period which is set out in the notification issued by the European Union in the context of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

“The Government of Grenada can confirm that for the purposes of all of Grenada’s international agreements with the EU, including bilateral and multilateral agreements, Grenada will treat the UK as an EU member state for the duration of the transition period.”

For its part, Trinidad and Tobago said that it “welcomes the continued application of the European Union’s international [bilateral and multilateral] agreements during the transition period” and that Port of Spain “will continue to treat the United Kingdom as a European Union member state for the duration of the transition period”.

The Belize government said that trade with the United Kingdom will continue to be governed by Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) that was signed between the Caribbean Forum (Cariforum) countries and European Union (EU) in 2008 allowing for the two regions to invest in and trade with each other as well as provide predictable EU market access for these countries.

“During the transition period, Belize’s trade with the UK, which is the largest market for Belize’s export of sugar and bananas, will continue to be governed by Cariforum-EU Economic Partnership Agreement,” according to a government statement.

For its part, the St Lucia government said that together with the rest of the Cariforum states and the United Kingdom, it had been involved in a technical dialogue since March 2017.

“The aim of this dialogue was to produce an agreement that would govern trade between the Cariforum States and the United Kingdom after its exit from the European Union and replicate the effects of the EPA, the Government said, adding that, this agreement would ensure continuity in the preferential trading relationship and avoid disruption in preferential trade…”

It said that the Cariforum-UK EPA was signed in march last year and “is an important one for Cariforum, as it currently absorbs approximately 25 per cent of the region’s total exports to Europe. Bananas, rum, sugar, rice, agro-processed goods and methanol are among the major exports to the UK.

“The Cariforum-UK EPA is designed to ensure that these exports will continue to receive preferential treatment in the British market, post Brexit. It also replicates commitments on development co-operation to support implementation and use of the agreement,” the statement said, noting that during the transition period, St Lucia, together with the rest of the signatory Cariforum States will continue to undertake the required work that will address issues relating to institutional, administrative, and business practices which may have implications for Cariforum-UK trade once the Cariforum-UK EPA is in operation from January 2021.

“This agreement is a fair compromise between the Cariforum and the UK. It is testament to the commitment and willingness of both sides to do what is best for the Cariforum and UK economic operators.

“The Government of St Lucia is optimistic that this Cariforum-UK EPA will provide the certainty its economic operators and businesses so deserve and that will strengthen the long-standing relationship between the Cariforum region and the United Kingdom.”