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.


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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Tourism is vital to the Caribbean economy

Date: 27th February 2017

‘Tourism is a vital sector to the economies of Member States’. So said CARICOM Heads of Government in the communiqué that followed their recent inter-sessional meeting in Georgetown, Guyana. Taken at face value the statement is unremarkable, even obvious; but the language chosen, its inclusion, and the recommendations made in relation to the challenges the industry faces, suggest that tourism’s…

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Transformational change requires new thinking

Date: 20th February 2017

In the last few weeks, Washington think tanks, financial services analysts in New York and London, and publications from the New York Times to the Petroleum Argus, have all found a reason to express a view on Guyana; the Caribbean nation they now see as set to become one of the western hemisphere’s major oil producers. It is the first…

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Cuba responds to the thinking of a new generation

Date: 13th February 2017

When it comes to Cuba, the world’s media tends to focus on the obvious: the possible outcome of the new US Administration’s policy review, the multiple difficulties faced by Cuba’s over-centralised planned economy, or the implications of Fidel Castro’s passing. Few journalists, it seems, take the trouble to observe the public signals that indicate the strategic challenges facing Cuban society,…

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Time to improve the CARICOM-DR relationship

Date: 5th February 2017

In a few days’ time, Jovenel Moïse, will become Haiti’s forty second President. His swearing in follows his first-round victory in the country’s November 20 election. A businessman from northern Haiti who has never held political office, Haiti’s President-to-be has said that amongst his first priorities will be the modernisation of Haiti’s agricultural sector, creating a viable organic food industry,…

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Values, growth and economic globalisation

Date: 30th January 2017

In the coming months, it is likely that the way in which governments think about international trade and their fundamental values will evolve rapidly, as the promises and threats that President Trump made on the campaign trail become US policy. To understand the likely nature of what happens next, contrast the sophisticated and measured remarks made by China’s President Xi…

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The message in President Trump’s Mexico policy

Date: 23rd January 2017

One of the few issues about which the new President of the United States has been consistent is his approach towards Mexico. Ever since his extraordinary electoral campaign first began, he has made his intention clear. He would build a wall to stop Mexican and other illegal migrants crossing the US’ southern border; would renegotiate the North American Free Trade…

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The real challenge of citizenship programmes

Date: 17th January 2017

A few days into the New Year, St Lucia’s Prime Minister, Allen Chastanet, suggested that all five of the Eastern Caribbean nations that sell Citizenship by Investment (CBI) should develop a joint approach through the OECS secretariat. His proposal, which is unlikely to be adopted, came amid a flurry of comments that followed a potentially damaging US television report about…

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The US should respect the WTO ruling on Antigua

Date: 9th January 2017

Late last November the Government of Antigua gave notice to the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) Disputes Settlement Body (DSB) that if the United States did not reach ‘an appropriate and beneficial settlement’ in relation to a legal adjudication made previously in its favour, it would act to recover the revenue it has lost. At the heart of the matter was…

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A moment for careful reflection

Date: 3rd January 2017

Few people understand how great the daily pressures are on a Prime Minister or President. Instead they mostly observe the public persona, see their leaders in the context of tribal politics, and are variously entertained or exercised by the media coverage of what is said, done or ignored. Irrespective, as holders of high office, all Heads of Government are required…

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Star ratings and the authentic Caribbean

Date: 26th December 2016

Some time ago I received an email asking me how many five star hotels there are in the Caribbean. I replied that there was no recognised or independently adjudicated rating system anywhere in the region other than in the French départements d’outre-mer. This meant, I said, that hotels chose their own classification largely based on their marketing preference, so that…

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Action needed to guide US regional priorities

Date: 19th December 2016

On December 13, the US Congress sent to President Obama The United States-Caribbean Strategic Engagement Act of 2016 for signature into law. This extraordinarily important development comes just as a new US Administration is about to take office. Uniquely it offers the Caribbean, unlike any other part of the world, a legislatively binding timetable within which the US government must…

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China: a tourism opportunity for the Caribbean?

Date: 12th December 2016

At the end of last month, China published a detailed 16-page document, ‘China’s Policy Paper on Latin America and the Caribbean’, which sets out a new approach to relations between the Americas and the world’s second largest economy. The document warrants close reading by governments and the private sector as it describes in considerable detail future Chinese policy towards the…

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New uncertainties ahead for Cuba

Date: 5th December 2016

On November 28, the US President-elect, Donald Trump said that ‘if Cuba is unwilling to make a better deal for the Cuban people, the Cuban/American people and the US as a whole, I will terminate deal.’ His tweet, which used language seemingly designed to drive a wedge between Cuba and the US and end President Obama’s policy of détente, followed…

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The trajectory of history is changing

Date: 29th November 2016

Being able to identify the policy changes that will transform the future is normally far from easy. Arguably, however, in the week past, the remarks of two world leaders make plain how the trajectory of global history is about to change. In a formal policy pronouncement on November 21, the US President-elect, Donald Trump, confirmed that on his first day…

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A new relationship for the Overseas Territories?

Date: 21st November 2016

While most of the world has been focussed on the outcome of the US presidential elections, other events of long-term importance to the region have been taking place. Of these, one of the more significant relates to the relationship between the UK and its Overseas Territories (OTs), which could eventually become subject to change. Although for a while now some,…

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The region is ill-prepared for President Trump

Date: 14th November 2016

Dispossessed by economic globalisation, faced with growing economic inequality, and wanting change, the people of the United States have elected Donald Trump to be their President. In doing so, they voted for the unknown, for rhetoric that may or may not be met by commensurate action, and for a man without political or military experience. In his campaign, Mr Trump…

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In geopolitics it is the long game that matters

Date: 6th November 2016

In a few days’ time, the outcome of the US presidential election will be known. Whichever of the two principal candidates wins, it is likely that sooner or later they will have to accept that the old global order has changed, and the country they need to reach an accommodation with, as an equal, is China. Although Europe and Russia…

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Action needed to address Caribbean cyber security

Date: 31st October 2016

Just over a week ago Google, Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, Netflix, Visa and many more premium providers of global web services, temporarily went offline. This was because they had indirectly suffered the effects of a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack on Dyn, a largely unknown intermediary that enables web users to access the addresses of major web sites. Experts say…

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Time to reshape ACP solidarity

Date: 25th October 2016

What does solidarity between nations mean in the early twenty-first century? Are the values inferred practical or advisable, in a multipolar world in which self-interest, overlapping relationships and multiple economic and political ideas compete? Solidarity suggests a common interest, similar objectives, and a cultural empathy binding people and societies together. It is an expression that implies enduring mutual support between…

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The ACP must not let the EU determine its future

Date: 17th October 2016

On November 29, Ministers from the 79-member African, Caribbean and Pacific group of states (the ACP) will meet in Brussels. There they are expected to agree a set of principles that will determine the ACP’s approach to negotiating a successor arrangement to the Cotonou Partnership Agreement. This is the treaty which ends in February 2020, that presently provides the legally…

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Climate change: a test of the region’s staying power

Date: 10th October 2016

After a period of uncertainty, it has been confirmed that the Paris Agreement on Climate Change will enter into force on November 4. This is good news for the Caribbean, one of the most at risk parts of the world from sea level change and severe climatic events. By global treaty standards, formal agreement has been achieved remarkably quickly, especially…

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