As uncertainty spreads across the world and with a number of countries gearing up to receive the
repercussions of the BREXIT fallout, British High Commissioner to Guyana, Gregory Quinn, is reassuring that nothing will change in Guyana; however, he indicated that avenues may pop up for the local sugar industry.
During an interview with Guyana Times on Wednesday, the UK Diplomat guaranteed that whatever consequences will follow the relationship between Guyana and Great Britain will remain undefiled.
“Looking to the longer term, I don’t see any change in the UK’s approach to Guyana. I don’t see any less a commitment and I don’t see any less support coming here,” he said.
He explained that the United Kingdom is awaiting a new Prime Minister to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty since David Cameron has resigned and refused to lead this process.
Until Article 50 is invoked, the process of leaving the EU will not commence.
“The rights and responsibilities and obligations that the UK has as a member of the EU and that the EU has to the UK remain exactly the same. And even when that process is launched, it is going to take at least probably two years. We are talking about a long and complicated process,” he outlined.
When further prompted, Quinn agreed that BREXIT may open opportunities for stakeholders in the local sugar industry to capitalise on but he cautioned that it is rather difficult to predict how events will unfold during these initial stages.
“I don’t honestly know. I haven’t spoken to Tate and Lyle since the result. I don’t know and I’m not sure that they might know the actual impact of that change so at the moment, I can’t really comment… Tate and Lyle are probably thinking about it but to say what it exactly means, I don’t think anyone has come to a concrete conclusion,” he explained.
UK Tate and Lyle Sugars had complained in the past of the negative impacts of the EU regulations on their operations.
Guyana’s sugar which had been shipped to Britain to the Tate and Lyle Sugar (TLS) on the Thames for refining was incorporated into the EU regime in 1973 and modified accordingly in the following years.
Cane sugar has been treated as a stepchild and TLS has seen its refineries gradually decrease from six to one.
In 2012, TLS launched a “Save our Sugar” campaign and asserted, “If current and proposed EU policies continue to unfairly restrict access to raw sugar, cane refiners will not survive as part of the supply mix in Europe’s sugar sector”.
In the next two years, according to Article 50 of the EU Charter, Britain and the EU will be negotiating the terms of the former’s exit. The EU’s entire sugar regime which addresses three main areas: quota management, a reference price and a minimum guaranteed price to growers, and trade measures, will have to be replaced by Britain with a new regime.
Because beet farming in Britain has never been on a scale as say France and Germany, and British farmers never received subsidies on the scale of their European counterparts.
TLS has been leading the charge for renegotiation of cane sugar trade arrangements before the old arrangement expired in 2017. It can be a potent ally with countries such as Guyana.
Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge had already pronounced that Guyana will not face any immediate impact as a result of BREXIT.
Jamaican Tourism Minister Edmund Barlett had announced that steps to secure UK market in light of Brexit were taken, given its significance to the tourism industry.
On the other hand, concerns are abound that Caribbean Community (Caricom) countries may follow the example set by the UK, and initiate a process to exit Caricom.
Already, authoritative voices in Jamaica placed on their national agenda the question of whether their country should follow the example of Britain, the former “Mother Country”, and leave Caricom.
In fact, the former Foreign Affairs Minister in Jamaica, Oswald Harding, is insisting that the Jamaican Government should follow the UK’s referendum on the EU and hold a similar one on whether Jamaica should remain in Caricom.
Over the years, several Member States have publicly subscribed to the view that the institution has been incapable of addressing the challenges facing the Caribbean.
With the Caricom Summit to be hosted in Guyana next month, Government has not pronounced on whether or not it will consider exiting Caricom.