Fri | Jan 19, 2018

JCC joins with Commonwealth business groups in opposing Brexit

Published:Sunday | May 15, 2016 | 1:13 PM
Warren McDonald, president of the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce.

The Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC) has joined other business-interest groups across the Commonwealth in opposing a possible exit of the United Kingdom from the 28-country European Union (EU).

“We consider the arrangement indispensable for Jamaica’s economic sustainability and of great importance to the prosperity of our countries,” Warren McDonald, president of the JCC, said in a joint statement with Commonwealth business-interest group leaders.

“In large measure, our access to the EU has been through the gateway of the UK by virtue of our long and durable relationship. We are therefore very hopeful that the UK will make the choice to remain inside the EU,” McDonald added.

The JCC’s opposition comes even though the EU mission here has assured that Britain’s exit would not have any impact on Jamaica.

"The relations between the EU and Jamaica are quite good as things are going very well both in political and economic terms as it has been for the past 40 years," said Jesus Orus Baguena, charge d' affaires of the European Union (EU) Delegation in Jamaica, in an earlier interview.

"We have gone through phases, but overall, I think it's quite a good relationship," he added.

With a referendum imminent to decide on whether the UK should remain in the EU, reactions have been varied. Prime Minister David Cameron and 16 members of the Cabinet have so far expressed their opposition to a decision to exit the EU.

And it appears that opposition to a possible exit is growing among key stakeholders of the British economy. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned that Britain’s exit would result in economic instability due to increases in interest rates and volatility in the financial markets.

Carolyn Fairbairn, director general of the Confederation of British Industries (CBI), said “remaining in the European Union and trading with some of our closest Commonwealth allies are not mutually exclusive – they are mutually reinforcing.”

She explained that “the UK has the best of both worlds by being able to trade easily with nations both from the Commonwealth and from the EU. Our membership of the EU gives us a home market of 500 million customers, while EU trade deals open up new opportunities in markets across the world, including our historic Commonwealth friends.”

As the UK’s third largest foreign direct investor, the director general of the Confederation of Indian Industry, Chandrajit Banerjee, said access to the European market is one of the main reasons why Indian businesses invest in the UK and warned that “anything that lessens this attractiveness may have a bearing on future investment decisions”.

John Manley, the president and chief executive of the Canada Business Council, echoed similar sentiments.

"Canadian companies invest more in the UK than anywhere else in the world except for the US, and they do so in large measure because they consider the UK a gateway to the rest of Europe,” he said.

Khanyisile Kweyama, chief executive of Business Unity South Africa, said “we want the UK to remain in the EU, to build a more prosperous Commonwealth, Africa and Europe”.

Carole Kariuki, chief executive officer of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance, feels the inclusion of the UK influences the EU to be more outward looking, which is beneficial to countries like Kenya and the Commonwealth in general.

“The UK’s influence makes the EU significantly more outward looking, beyond Europe’s shores and in the direction of growing markets the world over,” Kariuki said.

June 23 has been set as the day for Britons to vote in the referendum.