The View from Europe

David Jessop, Consultant and Non-Executive Director of the Caribbean Council, writes a weekly column providing a European perspective on Caribbean events. The column is syndicated to the Caribbean press.

An archive of the View from Europe columns be found below.


Trump’s remarks give Venezuela breathing space

Date: 21st August 2017

Speaking on August 11 at a press conference at one of his golf resorts, US President Donald Trump, scored the equivalent of a foreign policy own goal. “We have many options for Venezuela and by the way, I’m not going to rule out a military option”, he said, before going on to elaborate on US military capabilities. With a few…

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Has rail a future in the Caribbean?

Date: 14th August 2017

Historically Caribbean railways existed to carry cane to factories, or raw sugar and molasses to ports. Later they were used to transport other agricultural crops, minerals, and as urban populations grew, provided passenger services. However, the demise of sugar, high operating and maintenance costs, and improvements in road transport have seen railways all but disappear in most of the region….

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It is time to reconsider reporting on visitor arrival numbers

Date: 7th August 2017

When it comes to valuing tourism’s economic contribution, most Caribbean governments share publicly only arrivals numbers and the country of origin of their visitors. Then, usually at budget time, they produce generalised figures that indicate overall spend and contribution to GDP. Few provide the in-depth analysis that would determine how profitable their national tourism industry is, or offer detailed information…

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Should it matter who pays for Caribbean development?

Date: 31st July 2017

By any measure, the Caribbean’s infrastructure requirements are substantial. If the region is to increase its competitiveness and give citizens the quality of life they desire, its transformation has become a matter of urgency. In 2014, Dr Warren Smith, then the newly appointed President of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), indicated that to achieve this, the region would need US$30bn…

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Brexit, global trade and the overseas territories

Date: 24th July 2017

Last month a report appeared indicating just how important one of the Caribbean’s overseas territories has become in facilitating global trade. The study, entitled ‘Creating Value: the BVI’s Global Contribution’, was commissioned by BVI Finance and carried out by the international research consultancy, Capital Economics. It showed that despite the territory’s size, it has managed to create a sustainable, balanced…

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Who will reform CARICOM?

Date: 18th July 2017

There is a pervasive view within and beyond the Caribbean that the regional integration process is foundering, and that progress is being held back by an absence of political compromise combined with bureaucratic failings. The outcome of the recently held CARICOM Heads of Government meeting in Grenada did nothing to dispel such concerns. Although numerous important decisions were taken on…

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Reimagining Caribbean cities

Date: 10th July 2017

According to speakers at the recently held Chicago Forum on Global Cities, nearly four fifths of future growth between now and 2030 is likely to come from urban centres with over 0.5m residents. At the event, presenters demonstrated that not only is this one of the positive effects of wellplanned urbanisation, but also that cities create significant intellectual and cultural…

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The unfolding humanitarian crisis in the Caribbean

Date: 3rd July 2017

Last month, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) produced a worrying ‘situational update’ on the implications of the accelerating numbers of Venezuelans arriving in Trinidad, Brazil and Colombia. The Geneva-based body said that over 40,000 Venezuelans are now present in Trinidad and Tobago, and there are between 20-30,000 in Brazil’s Roraima province which borders Venezuela. It also noted…

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The broader implications of Washington’s new Cuba policy

Date: 26th June 2017

On June 16, speaking in Miami, President Trump announced measures reversing aspects of his predecessor’s policy of normalising relations with Cuba. Although the changes seem minimal, the content of the accompanying Presidential directive, couple with the President’s remarks, suggests that new uncertainties lie ahead for every nation that had welcomed détente and the opportunity it presented to deepen bilateral relations…

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Britain, Brexit and an uncertain future

Date: 20th June 2017

A little over a week ago, the British people went to the polls. Although the snap general election was supposed to strengthen the government’s negotiating hand in leaving the European Union, the outcome had the opposite effect, casting uncertainty over the nature of Brexit, and with it the country’s future political and economic stability. It was an election that in…

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China and the Americas

Date: 13th June 2017

A few days ago, China struck a remarkable deal: it agreed with the state of California to work on projects that will help lower US greenhouse gas emissions. In a move that symbolically set aside President Trump’s ill-considered decision to reject the global consensus on climate change, it was agreed to establish a joint Chinese-Californian working group. This will explore…

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Is the US still a reliable partner for the Caribbean?

Date: 5th June 2017

For the Caribbean, climate change and its mitigation is like no other issue: it is existential. The announcement by the US President on June 1 that he will withdraw from the Paris climate change agreement therefore strikes at the heart of every Caribbean citizen and government. The scientific evidence is overwhelming. Unless global warming and sea level change is addressed…

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Competition, connectivity and the Caribbean tourism market

Date: 1st June 2017

When the former US President, Barack Obama, announced in late 2014 that he was easing travel restrictions on US citizens wishing to visit Cuba, a frisson ran through the tourist industry in the rest of the region. Seminars and conferences were hastily convened, papers produced, and Caribbean governments sought to understand the extent to which Cuba’s opening to the US…

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Jamaica-DR accord should give pause for thought in CARICOM

Date: 23rd May 2017

A few days ago, the Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness, and the President of the Dominican Republic, Danilo Medina, agreed to work towards a closer relationship. Beyond the widely-reported desire of both nations to increase trade and investment, the language contained in the joint declaration that followed their meeting in Santo Domingo suggested that the two countries may be…

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Why the concerns of Caribbean youth matter

Date: 19th May 2017

In much of the world, young people feel economically marginalised, politically alienated and involved in a struggle against insecurity and inequity. In the Caribbean, it is little different. Lack of opportunity, the absence of generational change, high levels of unemployment, discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation and the slow pace of change are abiding aspects of the lives of…

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Venezuela’s crisis raises wider regional issues

Date: 8th May 2017

Last week, after months of growing street protests, detentions, escalating violence leading to at least 36 deaths, and shortages of almost all basic necessities, Venezuela’s President, Nicolas Maduro, announced the creation of a constituent assembly with the ability to rewrite the country’s constitution. Although he has argued that this is a necessary step to restore peace and avoid the danger…

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Addressing the loss of health care professionals

Date: 1st May 2017

Around the world, public health care systems are in crisis. From India to Australia, nations in the developing and developed world are struggling to meet the expectations of their local populations. The Caribbean is no exception. There are multiple reasons for this. In the Anglophone Caribbean, demographic change has seen a surge in the nature and volume of demand as…

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The new dimensions of regional security

Date: 24th April 2017

It is no secret that governments around the world regularly practise their response to security threats. The objective is to prepare for eventualities that those concerned hope will never occur, and to demonstrate publicly a readiness and capacity to respond effectively with others. It should therefore come as no surprise that this year’s annual pan-Caribbean security exercise, will focus on…

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Cuba’s cautious transition to a new generation

Date: 17th April 2017

In just under a year’s time, if President Castro keeps to his previously announced timetable, he will step down and cease to lead Cuba’s Council of State and Council of Ministers. Others in his generation are also expected to demit office. Unless a constitutional change occurs, he will also cease to be the Commander in Chief of the Cuban Armed…

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Tourism’s essential role in development

Date: 10th April 2017

One of the most common complaints about tourism is that it does not spread the wealth it creates into rural and urban communities. This is particularly so in larger Caribbean nations where many thousands are engaged in agriculture, opportunity and education are limited, and where urban drift has resulted in poverty and criminality. The criticism is that despite the industry…

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How might the Caribbean respond to Brexit?

Date: 6th April 2017

On March 29, after forty years of membership, the British government formally gave notice that it will leave the European Union (EU) in 2019. In a carefully worded, conciliatory letter, the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, told the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, that after separating, the UK hopes for ‘a deep and special partnership’ that involves both…

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The changing face of Caribbean rum

Date: 28th March 2017

In a few weeks’ time, the European Union’s (EU) long running programme to support the development of the Caribbean rum industry will come to an end. It has been one of the most successful private sector related undertakings ever to be supported by the EU in the Caribbean. It leaves much of the industry in the region leaner, fitter and…

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Trade options and the Commonwealth

Date: 20th March 2017

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. The precise timing of the announcement is unclear, but what is not in doubt is that it will create uncertainty for every country with which…

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Responding to the coming trade disorder

Date: 13th March 2017

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”. “That is the secret of understanding future US policy”, she said. If this is correct, the Caribbean should ignore the noise and think hard about the implications of a nine-page document sent on…

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Has Caribbean sugar a future?

Date: 5th March 2017

Unless the sugar industry in CARICOM can develop a co-ordinated and concerted plan of action over the next few months, 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. This is because this year will…

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