Caribbean Community governments at the weekend railed strongly against Russia’s military intervention in neighboring Ukraine but even as the region appears to hold a single and firm opposition to the invasion, most member countries are looking at ways to mitigate the economic impact of war on their economies.
Fears about runaway prices for oil and petroleum products for net Caribbean importers, price hikes, shipping delays and other problems are at the forefront of governmental concerns from the conflict with some cabinets already warning citizens to brace for higher living costs.
“We could have a situation where we are forced to increase the price at the pump,” Antiguan Prime Minister Gaston Browne said on his weekly radio program at the weekend. “If petroleum prices continue to increase, then there may be a time when we cannot continue to hold the price of whatever it is for gas at the pump,” he said.
Barbadian Prime Minister Mia Mottley told journalists that a full assessment of the impact of the war would be done soon as authorities are looking at ways to at least keep food prices down.
“It is not the worst news, but we are prepared to do what has to be done at the macro level and also with respect to cost of living for households as we go forward. The urgency of the moment with the Ukraine crisis is undoubtedly there. But we have been preparing for some time for this unstable world, which has led to increases in food prices,” she said.
Similar concerns and intended actions to mitigate the crisis for regional citizens have been expressed by officials from Trinidad to The Bahamas.
Trinidad’s trade ministry Monday warned about supply chain disruptions owing to port closures in Eastern Europe resulting in inflation in importing states.
“The ministry will continue to actively monitor developments in the international trading system and work with all relevant stakeholders as appropriate to ensure food security by mitigating any negative impacts associated with the commodity shortages and price increases.”
In The Bahamas as well, Economic Affairs Minister Mike Halkitis noted that conflict “increases the cost of transportation to bring things in here. The short of it is that it’s not good for us because of the uncertainty and the disruption that it causes. We can only hope that this is one of those things where a solution can be gotten and we don’t have this blown-out situation.”
As Caribbean leaders assembled in Belize for their two day midterm summit ending on Wednesday, the 15-nation bloc made it clear that it was against Russia’s military actions against Ukraine.
“The Caribbean Community strongly condemns the military attacks and invasion of Ukraine by The Russian Federation and calls for the immediate and complete withdrawal of the military presence and cessation of any further actions that may intensify the current perilous situation in that country. The recognition by The Russian Federation of the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk represents a violation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine,” a statement said. Leaders are expected to have a full discussion on the issue and are likely to put out a second statement at the end of the summit.
“Caricom maintains that the principles of universal respect and adherence to these norms and principles of international law are fundamental to the maintenance of the international system and global peace and security.”