The lush tropical island of Samoa in the South Pacific is famous as the last resting place of Robert Louis Stevenson author of Treasure Island.His villa is now a museum and a major tourist attraction set in the hills above Apia, the nation’s capital.
Stevenson is buried at the top of a nearby mountain and reached by a hike through tropical rainforest. There is even an environmental project to preserve the forest in that area.
It was at Stevenson’s villa that five months ago that Laura Clarke the British High Commissioner to Samoa chose to launch a new initiative aimed to boost Britain’s place in the world post Brexit. Here for one day the Union Jack flew from the building while the high commissioner waxed lyrically about how similar the UK was do this tropical paradise. You can read all about it in a FO press release here.
Samoa it turns out is one of nine countries that Britain is keen to strengthen its presence as part of a Foreign Office initiative to compensate for losing its influence in the European Union. The argument goes along the lines that for every small country that Britain supports is likely to back Britain at the United Nations as each country has one vote. That way Britain can keep playing a major role without relying on the EU.The initiative goes back to Boris Johnson’s time as foreign secretary.It is being repeated in Tonga and Vanuatu.
The policy could be expensive and the competition could be fierce. In Samoa it will mean building a high commission to compete with the ones already in the capital representing Australia,New Zealand and Japan. In both Samoa and Tonga the main competition comes from China which is aiding Samoa’s education system and operates behind a high security compound in Tonga. The Japanese and Koreans are funding a new bridge in Apia. And both islands have strong links with Australia and New Zealand.
Exactly what new business opportunities Britain will get from Samoa and Tonga is not clear. Neither country relies entirely on tourism but most of their exports are agriculture and both have tiny populations ( they have less than 300,000 between them) and are no substitute for any EU country. Britain could benefit from coconut oil and cream from Samoa. Tonga could send us frozen fish,squash and vanilla beans.
As a visitor to both countries, Samoa is stunningly beautiful and friendly and Tonga is similar. Both have a very strong Christian religious communities dating from the missionaries and still observe Sundays as a day of rest.
In Samoa family is very important and unusually there are few cementaries as nearly all Samoans bury their ancestors on their own land. As well having their own homes they build meeting halls for family events.
Surprisingly for such a beautiful place it is not overdeveloped. There are no huge tower block hotels like Honolulu dominating the coast.Instead it remains rather a remarkable tropical paradise that even Robert Louis Stevenson might still recognise.
China has done much for Samoa in recent years. The new 200-bed main hospital in Apia, the new Ministry of Health Building, Ministry of Communications and IT building, Colleges and Schools, Sports Stadium for the Polynesian Games 2019, National Broadband Highway etc. didn’t see much evidence of UK assistance, did you?
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Thanks for this didnt see anything UK had done but will be corrected
I hope we do get involved and a new UK high commissioner has been appointed but has not yet set up an office. We could do much particularly with NZ and Oz not sure why they would trust us though?
You did not see any British arms Manufacturers by any chance? Ever considered that the Chinese are the one’s using soft power, while the US Military Industrial Complex and its client state foreign policy is talk about Democracy, attempt or succeed in overthrowing rulers in smaller states who do obey Pax Americana and leave behind a trail of death, misery, and destruction.
So, what’s all this to do with trade, quite a lot if you think carefully about it. Would you want to do trade with the Bully Boy who smashed up your Grandmothers house, who was responsible for the murder of your cousin, of course not!. The UK as to a large extent lost its Colonial image but replaced it with being the 51st State in all but name and representation in Congress. The British military are the American Foreign Legion doing the US bidding, our security services should be paid by the Americans as they are so interlocked with the CIA.
Now think of China’s soft power approach again and the trading nation it as become, we cut our Overseas Budget and this gets a cheer from those with a Little England mentality. The fools never thinking that on the day they cheered the overseas cuts the UK was dropping bombs on so called targets costing a lot more than what was saved . Compare that with the policies of the Chinese and even some Supermarkets, they realise providing the local facilities for the local community is good for business. The Post Brexit approach needs to include distancing the UK from Pax Americana, and learn this one fact, the Military and Industrial Complex brand name USA is bad for British Business.
An Australian friend of mine who corresponds on a regular basis said that many in Australia have concerns about the growing influence of the Chinese in the region and in particular Polynesia, I asked him what the Australians where doing for the Islands and he replied very little. if you think you have bad governments come and live in Australia. I replied that we have gone from being a world power in my lifetime to governments that are only interested what goes on inside the four walls of Westminster and Canberra and he agreed.
We have very little influence in the EU and had we voted remain even that pitiful amount wiould have been cut further by the full horror of Lisbon kicking in on 1/1/20
Let’s hope they reject our offer and they are left in peace to protect and enjoy their paradise while it lasts
Maybe their interest relates to rumours that the UK after Brexit will lose its permeant seat on the Security Council. ” The United Kingdom is a committed and active member of the UN Security Council and our permanent membership status is not going to change”. says foreign office spokesman. 2016.
Reminds me of a football club statement concerning the position of the manager before he is sacked. Never mind, think of the money we will save by downsizing the foreign office when we become an insignificant Island of the coast of Europe.