UK’s Strategic Economic Engagement with Caribbean Shape Response to Reparations By Hermina Garic
The United Kingdom is the only country to respond to Caribbean countries in their pressure for slavery reparations from European governments. The reason revolves around the uncertain economic situation of Britain post-Brexit.
The United Kingdom’s economy is predicted to struggle if/when a Brexit deal is made. The government has released official reports stating the economic effects will be felt across the territory and even if the UK is able to reach a deal with the EU, the economic impacts will be manageable at best.
As Brexit plays out, UK government officials have not wasted time and have been working on strengthening economic relations with countries in Latin America. The British Foreign Policy Group released a related strategic report in November of 2018. In the report, Joanna Crellin, UK trade commissioner for Latin America and the Caribbean, detailed four core policy recommendations:
1) Address the gap in attractiveness between the UK and Latin America;
2) Make greater use of UK overseas territories to promote UK-Lain America ties;
3) Engage UK regions to promote stronger UK-Latin America ties;
4) Ensure the coordination of UK Policy towards Latin America across Whitehall.
All these policy recommendations focus on maintaining stronger economic ties with Latin America so they can benefit from the economic prospects of the region.
While the UK did respond to Caricom’s requests for reparations, they did so through economic investments. The UK is interested in the Caribbean region for economic gains, but not to directly address the historical impact colonization has had on the Caribbean.
For example, when assessing the economic investment that the UK has made in Jamaica, it was evident that UK wants to maintain economic hegemony in the region. While the UK did send a substantial amount of aid to Jamaica to develop regional programs to help the Caribbean prepare for and reduce the risk from climate change disasters, they did so with a specific interest in their economic sectors.
The development bank (DFID) devoted a significant amount of time to support studies that assess the possible economic impact of climate change on the agricultural, health and tourism in Jamaica. In addition, the development bank is also contributing a regional budget that is seeking to expand three programs that are specifically designed to create jobs and increased exports across the Caribbean. One of those programs includes £10 million for COMPETE Caribbean, delivered jointly with the Inter-American Development Bank and the Canadian International Development Agency, which will reduce red tape, streamline regulation, and help local firms break into markets.
The UK seems to be utilizing the Caribbean region and Latin America as part of a larger economic strategy that is designated to extract economic capital from the regions in order to stabilize Britain’s economy post-Brexit. This suggests that reparation requests will be addressed within this framework limiting the prospects for these to be fulfilled.
Hermina Garic is a government and politics student at Utica College