Thursday, June 30, 2016
By SANCHESKA BROWN
Tribune Staff Reporter
FOREIGN Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell said yesterday while there will “likely” be an impact for The Bahamas and the Caribbean of Britain’s vote to exit the European Union, it is “too early to say” what that impact will be.
Mr Mitchell said The Bahamas enjoys strong tourism ties with the UK and the influx of tourists from the area will be determined by the health and strength of the UK economy.
He said if the sterling is negatively affected due to Britain leaving the EU then it is possible that The Bahamas will experience a decline in numbers from the UK.
Last Thursday, the UK held a referendum to decide whether Britain should leave or remain in the European Union (EU). The Leave campaign won by 52 per cent to 48 per cent.
The referendum turnout was 71.8 per cent, with more than 30 million people voting. It was the highest turnout in a UK-wide vote since the 1992 general election.
Yesterday, Mr Mitchell said the direct implication of the exit is still to be determined.
“We do about $30m worth of business with the UK every year and there is a net, a balance in our favour. We import about $14m a year from the UK, as you know we are a part of the economic partnership agreement which allows the goods and services of The Bahamas to enter under preferential terms in the European Union and with Great Britain exiting, those would no longer apply in Britain or British markets so we would want to be sure that our service people and people who trade in goods are able to continue to have that access,” Mr Mitchell said.
“The Bahamas and the Caribbean have relations with both the UK and the EU as distinct entities. These relations are expected to continue but will no doubt be transformed in light of the exit. What exactly will happen is yet to be determined.”
Mr Mitchell said the main tourism vehicle for the UK is British Airways and the airline is expanding the size of the aircraft to the Bahamas so he expects tourism to continue, and increase, in the short term.