As in 2021, Whitehall has published the ‘ Integrated Review Refresh 2023 ‘ ahead of the eleventh United Kingdom- Caribbean Ministerial Forum. It treats holistically with the UK’s public security, foreign and defence policy, and transnational development approach.
A CARICOM Council for Foreign and Community Relations meeting is anticipated to come up with a coordinated CARICOM position on the forthcoming high- position, biennial UK- Caribbean dialogue.
IR2023 tamps down on the Brexit undertones of IR2021 and glosses over the fate of Brexit in respect of the UK’s frugality, in a policymaking setting where defence spending has been boosted. It is geared towards perfecting the UK’s global prestige and standing.
In a renewed surge of great-power competition, the UK is concerned about Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.
The UK and Caribbean have strengthened cooperation via regular and organized engagements, but given the magnitude of their interests in the geopolitical moment, the UK may have to reevaluate that approach.
London is concerned by Beijing’s increasing involvement in and engagement with Caribbean countries, particularly the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), although the nine Caribbean member states diplomatically backing Beijing have, by and large, steered clear of pronouncing on Beijing’s recent smallsword- rattling aimed at Taipei.
‘The Times They Are A-Changin’
The prolonged Ukraine war has put to the test the bloc’s commitment to the UN, and could accentuate CARICOM’s popular credentials as reason enough for the bloc to present a united front.
This particular geopolitical moment protuberances the Eleventh Ministerial Forum because the diversity of interests among the wider Caribbean constituency has gurgled to the face, and because the UK has called for looking beyond “pre-existing musketeers” to strengthen its foreign policy.
The UK Small Island Developing States strategy 2022 to 2026 and the 2022 UK aid strategy’s emphasis on and prioritization of climate change and biodiversity have been well entered by CARICOM, which comprises small islet and low- lying littoral developing countries.
Barbados, a leading member of the CARICOM bloc, is at the van of promoting through transnational cooperation and multinational processes a New Global Financial Pact, which is amplified by debates around climate finance and concessional backing.
Music to Caribbean Ears
CARICOM member countries are correct to be at the van of transnational sweats to address climate change, and British support can only strengthen CARICOM’s hand on the transnational stage.
The UK is interested in encouraging UK investment in the Caribbean, especially in Guyana’s new and booming oil painting and gas sector, which transnational relations experts contend Western powers are allowing about in terms of “(t) he need( in the current transnational terrain) for energy security”.
Some other issues remain a work in progress, such as the possibility of a wider visa-free trip for Caribbean citizens visiting the UK and the need for reform of the UN Security Council.
On balance, the UK and Caribbean Ministerial Forum will move the cooperation forward and strengthen needful action by all parties concerned, and will also profit from progress previsioned in other policy areas.
In this reading of the forthcoming reflections, it becomes apparent that stretching the conventional understanding of UK-Caribbean cooperation has different provocations and geoeconomic- cum- geopolitical end pretensions.