Samoa unlikely to feel impact of Brexit, diplomat says
The plan for the United Kingdom to withdraw from the European Union, commonly referred to as Brexit, is unlikely to have an impact on Samoa, says the British High Commissioner to Samoa, Laura Clarke.
In an interview with the Samoa Observer, Ms. Clarke said they are ensuring trade will continue to flow as it already is between the two nations.
"I don’t think Samoa will really feel the impact of Brexit," said Ms. Clarke.
"What we’re doing is making sure that we’re putting in place measures to ensure that trade will continue as it already does, and those trades and preferences are continued post-Brexit.
"So I actually think for the average Samoan, there wouldn’t really be any impact, there wouldn’t be any change to our immigration rules as far as Samoa is concerned."
Ms. Clarke, who is also the British High Commissioner to New Zealand, said New Zealand is top of the priority list for post-Brexit free trade agreements.
She highlighted that the United Kingdom will maintain close relations with the European partners, even though they are leaving.
"And so there is real opportunity coming there and overall it’s important to say that even though U.K. is leaving the E.U., we will maintain close relationships with our European partners and friends.
"That will be a close trading relationship and economical security relationship but we also want to strengthen our relationship elsewhere which is partly why we need these new posts in the Pacific," said Ms. Clarke.
She explained that while the U.K. is in the final negotiation stages of leaving the E.U., she sees an opportunity to strengthen relations and cooperation with the Pacific.
“There is obviously works to look at; what happens to our contributions through the E.U. after we leave Brexit and that’s a work in progress, but my overriding view is that there are benefits and opportunities for countries like Samoa, New Zealand coming from Brexit.
“There is also an opportunity in Brexit for us to strengthen our relationships further with countries in the Pacific and there will be no turning in of the U.K. following Brexit.
“As for Brexit itself, if you watch the news, we’ve got a lot of work to do and there’s a lot that we need to negotiate and resolve, but I am very confident that we have the competence and commitment on both sides to really make it work," assured Ms. Clarke.
The non-resident diplomat accredited to Samoa said the British High Commission in Samoa will be "up and running" by the end of this year.
E.U. leaders have now supported a six-month extension until the 31 October 2019 but U.K had been due to leave on 29 March 2019. However, if the withdrawal agreement is endorsed by the U.K and the E.U before then, the U.K will leave before this date.