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UWI and European University Institute share COVID-19 and trade experiences in the Caribbean and Euro

For Release Upon Receipt - December 4, 2020


COVID-19 has had a huge impact on the trade and economic fortunes of both the Caribbean and Europe. A few weeks ago, The University of West Indies (The UWI) and the European University Institute (EUI) brought together researchers and practitioners for an e-dialogue to exchange thoughts and best practices on trade and economic affairs between the two regions. The event entitled, COVID-19 and Trade – Sharing the Experiences of the Caribbean and Europe was the first initiative stemming from a partnership agreement between the two universities signed in July. It was streamed via UWItv and the recorded broadcast can be accessed here.

The e-dialogue was led by the two principals responsible for executing objectives specified in the partnership agreement: Dr Luz Longsworth, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Global Affairs at The UWI and Principal of its Open Campus along with Professor Bernard Hoekman, Director of the Global Economics Research Area of the Global Governance Programme, Dean of External Relations at the EUI. Other speakers included H.E. Joy-Ann Skinner, Ambassador of Barbados to the EU; Felipe De La Mota, European Union Team Leader for Regional Integration and Trade programmes in the Caribbean and Dr Don Marshall, Director of the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies. It was chaired by Dr Jan Yves Remy, Deputy Director of the Shridath Ramphal Centre at The UWI.

Among the topics discussed included the pandemic’s impact on international supply chains and the trade policy responses of international governments. More importantly, speakers highlighted concerning contemporary relations between Caribbean and EU territories such as blacklisting and restrictions on food and medical products during the pandemic, and the potential for plurilateral agreements and mutual agendas in the future.

In his presentation Dr Marshall explained that the fundamental logic driving world trade has been upended given the nature of the COVID-19 crisis. “Previous global pandemics affected economically less important countries. This one is different” he said. He noted that the nations with the most imported cases, those with the first and second lockdowns and the ones that had severe first lockdowns/waves included China, Korea, Italy, Japan, US and Germany which account for about 55% of world’s supply and demand/GDP; 60% of manufacturing and 50% of world manufacturing exports. He also noted that the net result has been a disruption in the supply chains and industries such as tourism and manufacturing. For small island states in the Caribbean tourism is a mainstay, and this along with the disruptions in manufacturing have had severe economic repercussions affecting small island developing states and exacerbated vulnerabilities and economic partnerships in the Caribbean region.

The purpose of the event was to provide a forum for information-sharing, comparative analysis and debate of interest to policy-makers, academia, researchers and the public. Dr Longsworth commented that “The coming together of our two regions — the Caribbean and the EU — linked by history but also by being two common markets in the world that are working is significant as we share experience and finding possible collaborations to find solutions.” She added that the relationship is a part of the overall UWI Global strategy of critical collaboration and partnerships with world class universities on every continent.

Professor Bernard Hoekman acknowledged that MOUs are very common among universities but quite frequently the arrangements never do much more than get written on paper. “However, in this is particular case,” he stated, “we have a real live action with this event that signaled a very dynamic partnership with The UWI.” He said that he was looking forward to working together on not just joint initiatives of interest to faculty and students but engaging with the policy world to do things that are useful and relevant from a policy perspective, particularly with a focus on EU Caribbean relations.



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About The UWI

For over 70 years The University of the West Indies (The UWI) has provided service and leadership to the Caribbean region and wider world. The UWI has evolved from a university college of London in Jamaica with 33 medical students in 1948 to an internationally respected, regional university with near 50,000 students and five campuses: Mona in Jamaica, St. Augustine in Trinidad and Tobago, Cave Hill in Barbados, Five Islands in Antigua and Barbuda and an Open Campus. As part of its robust globalization agenda, The UWI has established partnering centres with universities in North America, Latin America, Asia, Africa and Europe including the State University of New York (SUNY)-UWI Center for Leadership and Sustainable Development; the Canada-Caribbean Institute with Brock University; the Strategic Alliance for Hemispheric Development with Universidad de los Andes (UNIANDES); The UWI-China Institute of Information Technology, the University of Lagos (UNILAG)-UWI Institute of African and Diaspora Studies; the Institute for Global African Affairs with the University of Johannesburg (UJ); The UWI-University of Havana Centre for Sustainable Development; The UWI-Coventry Institute for Industry-Academic Partnership with the University of Coventry and the Glasgow-Caribbean Centre for Development Research with the University of Glasgow.

The UWI offers over 800 certificate, diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food & Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science & Technology, Social Sciences and Sport. 

As the region’s premier research academy, The UWI’s foremost objective is driving the growth and development of the regional economy. The world’s most reputable ranking agency, Times Higher Education, has ranked The UWI among the top 600 universities in the world for 2019 and 2020, and the 40 best universities in Latin America and the Caribbean in 2018 and 2019, then top 20 in 2020. The UWI has been the only Caribbean-based university to make the prestigious lists.  For more, visit


(Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of the “The”, hence The UWI.)