The decision by voters in the United Kingdom (UK) last Thursday to leave the 28-member European Union (EU) has serious implication for the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU).

Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), Timothy Antoine on Friday described the decision as “a really big move” and urged Caribbean nationals to appreciate the value of their own regional integration institutions.

“A lot of this creates a sense of uncertainty,” he said, noting that the International Monetary Fund and other institutions have projected that the British economy, the world’s fifth largest, could go back into recession as early as next year.

“Obviously, we are very concerned because the UK is an important source market for us in terms of tourism and that could affect us,” Antoine told reporters in Kingstown.

The withdrawal of the UK from the EU – “Brexit” could, over time, affect aid to the Caribbean, Antoine said, even as he noted that the UK has about two years before leaving the EU.

“But clearly, any downturn in the UK economy can have a potential adverse impact on the Caribbean economies, especially with regards to tourism and, to some extent, trade and remittances.”

Antoine said it is important to recognise that the single biggest concern that central bank governors and persons in the financial sector have is uncertainty.

“We know what could happen but we are not sure what would happen because it depends on how the negotiations take place, how fast they exit, how the global economy responds. But uncertainty is never a good thing. It affects confidence, so, obviously, we are very concerned about that.”

Uncertainty has seen the value of the pound sterling against the Eastern Caribbean Dollar falling by almost 50 cents since the results of the referendum.

Antoine said the ECCB is well organised in terms of its portfolio and, therefore, does not have any particular concerns in that regard.

“We are in high-quality assets, and, if anything, there will be a flight to quality, which means that we may see some capital appreciation over time.

“The downside is that we may see our investment income may not come as quickly because our interest rate may get cut. There may be delays in raising interest rates because, obviously, in the current environment, there may have to be further quantitative easing to support the UK economy and the global economy to ensure that it does not go back into recession or to minimise the risk of its going back into recession.

Investopedia defines quantitative easing is an unconventional monetary policy in which a central bank purchases government securities or other securities from the market in order to lower interest rates and increase the money supply.

Antoine said a lot of what drove the UK to leave the EU is “this global discontent about globalisation — that the fruits of globalisation are not being equitably shared.

“The decision is premised on fear: fear of losing control; fear about immigration — people coming in your country; fear and lack of fair share, where some people feel that globalisation is not delivering enough benefits — some people get in but not enough people benefitting.

“That is what is driving a lot of this. So you’re seeing this rise in economic nationalism; you’re seeing the rise in right-wing movements; you are seeing what you see in the U.S.; you are seeing what you see in the UK and other parts of Europe.”

Antoine noted that people are questioning some of the international and regional institutions and whether or not they are getting value and the cost-benefit analysis.

“I want to say that in this region, we have to very mindful of the important contribution regional integration had made and is making to our economic development. I ask the simple question, ‘Where would we be without the ECCB?’ Can you imagine every country trying to run a central bank? It would be a disaster.

“So, the regional institutions have helped us. Now, of course, we must ensure that they continue to work for us and that’s why the responsibility of institutions such as ours — the Central Bank, is to make sure we’re engaging people — that people are a part of what is going on, they feel a part of it; that they are able to share their views and we are able to listen to them and make the right and appropriate policy adjustments and recommendations.”

He said that in the UK, there is a sense somewhat of a disconnect between what is going on in some of these bodies, like the European Commission and how people in rural and northern England feel about what’s going on.

Antoine noted that London voted to stay in the EU by about 70 per cent because, as the financial centre, Londoners are benefitting from the EU, but other people who are not benefitting as much opted out.

“So there are some important lessons for us to reflect on as a region with this Brexit decision,” Antoine said.

10 replies on “Brexit has important lessons for eastern Caribbean — ECCB governor”

  1. Jeannine James says:

    How come I can’t see anywhere yet where any of the region’s blustery reparationists and pundits are ready to speculate about the impact of Brexit upon the reparations for slavery that we are exhorted to believe that we are due? I am not saying that this is an ECCB issue but as it occurred to me, I drop it here.

      1. Agreed! I wonder if a world court in Den Hague, Holland is going to find in favor of a former colony of England knowing that all colonies of other nations such as France and Holland (which colonized much of the Caribbean), are just going to follow; starting a snowball effect. Maybe Italy should sue Germany because the Visigoths sacked Rome hundreds of years ago, and some say they were not nice guys. Can Hawaii sue the US Government, seeing as Hawaii is not officially part of the US anyway. Alaska technically still belongs to Russia because the US did not pay, as promised; they too should sue. I wonder if some Prime Ministers dream of lawsuits instead of sex, from the way things look, maybe they dream of both!

  2. Timothy Antoine is obviously a Globalist involved in the theft of wealth from the middle-class to the government. If you love your country you are now considered “right-wing”. The Central Banks are certainly one of the main reasons for the terrible global economic problems. Antoine mentions haw terribly poor we will all be if we did not have regional central banks. He does not mention that most all countries were far better off before, including SVG. The IMF, World Bank and Central Banks are the main reason for all our problems.

  3. Readers should not be brain-washed by these people. The falling Pound will hurt us in the short term but the UK will be far better off in the mid and long term not having all aspects of their life dictated to them by Brussels. The CARICOM is no where near as bad as the EU. Let’s hope it does not get that way. The EU was supposed to be mainly for “free-trade” it turned out to be the opposite. The UK will now really have free trade. Too bad the UK will not really be out of the EU for about two years, that is enough time to really mess things up and blame it on their independence when it is really because they will not be in or out for that two years. It all depends on how responsible the politicians are going to be.

  4. C. ben-David says:

    An important lesson from Brexit for us is that PM Cameron, a man of integrity, has pledged to resign after a referendum of his own making failed to yield the result he campaigned for while our own tin-pot leader PM Gonsalves refused to resign after a referendum of his own making failed to yield the result he campaigned for.

    Same holds for shameless Eustace who is still hanging around after four defeats and after losing the election appeal.

    These men have no pride, integrity, or love of country, only a lust for power, prestige and privilege.

    1. I usually agree with most everything you write but I do not agree that Cameron is a man of integrity. Sure, more integrity than Gonsalves but I see Eustace as having far more integrity than either of them. Integrity, or lack of integrity is not Eustace’s problem. His best strategy would be if he was more persistent on pointing out all the corruption of his opponent and members of the ULP of the past 15 years. He did not do that enough.

    2. Cameron was recently caught in the “Panama Papers” and has been involved in other mischief. Eustace has proof concerning corruption in the ULP but did not use it as he should have. I am not talking about all the sex scandals of a powerful politician. I am talking about the government taking NIS money from the Public Servants but not putting it in the NIS fund. I am talking about ULP people stealing money and not going to jail….Should I continue…?

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