ALBA issues Declaration on solidarity with Caribbean

Alba 2017 photo

The Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas (ALBA) grouping has come out in support of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) on a number of matters including graduation, reparations, de-risking, and climate change.

The support came in the form of a Declaration of solidarity with the Caribbean that was issued at the conclusion of the Fifth Meeting of ALBA’s Political Council, held in Havana, Cuba on Monday 10 April. CARICOM Member States which are members of ALBA were represented at the Meeting.

Please see Declaration below:

We the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the member countries of the Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas – People Trade Treaty, at the 15th meeting of its Political Council in Havana:

Recognize the need to face together the challenges in order to achieve sustainable development, including our vulnerabilities as Caribbean countries and in particular as Small Island Developing States and countries in low lying coastal zones, especially in the economic and environmental areas, and to build more just and equitable societies; (more…)

Finland signals interest in CARICOM’s bio-energy

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Government of Finland, through its newly accredited envoy to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), has expressed strong interest in exploring the bio-energy potential in mainland territories of CARICOM.

Speaking at the ceremony at the CARICOM Secretariat for the presentation of his Letter of Credence to CARICOM Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, on Thursday 16 March, 2017, the new Finnish Ambassador, His Excellency Kukka Pietikaine said his country wanted to continue cooperation in renewable energy technologies.

He said forest-based bio-energy has a central role in Finland’s economy, with 80 per cent of its renewable energy coming from forest biomass. Indicating that CARICOM and Finland “should take a closer look” at the region’s bio-energy potential, he said that Finland was one of the global leaders in waste-to-energy solutions and a forerunner in bio-fuel technologies.

Another interesting field of cooperation between CARICOM and Finland, he said, could be the development of wave energy, with Finland also possessing “first class technologies in this field,” adding, “a preliminary wave energy assessment would be the first step for the development of the blue energy resources.”


(more…)

CDB funds project to prevent loss of correspondent banking relationships

March 17, 2017, BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – The Board of Directors of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has approved funding of US$250,000 to strengthen financial transparency, and assist in preventing the loss of correspondent banking relationships (CBRs) in the Region.

In the Caribbean, CBRs facilitate a number of payment systems, including international trade, cross-border payments and receiving of remittances. Recently, some large international banks have started terminating or severely limiting their CBRs with smaller local and regional banks, in an effort to reduce exposure to risks associated with money-laundering and financing of terrorism. This process, known as de-risking, has negative implications for the Caribbean, potentially resulting the loss of trade relationships and negative economic impacts.

CBRs are fundamental to the efficient operation and resilience of the global financial system. This project will contribute to a more stable financial system in the Caribbean, which will in turn allow more banks to access CBRs, so that they can continue to carry out international transactions. This is critical if the Caribbean is to reduce poverty and spur economic development,” said Daniel Best, Director of Projects at the CDB. (more…)

De-risking impedes access to finance for non-profit organisations

Photo by: frankieleon / CC BY via Devex)
Photo by: frankieleon / CC BY via Devex)

If you’ve opened a bank account in the last few years, you likely had to answer a bunch of more or less intrusive questions about yourself, your background and why you wanted to open the account. Annoying, but part and parcel of Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism (“AML/CFT”) rules that all banks, in all parts of the world, are subject to.

The ostensible purpose is to enable banks to prevent bad actors using the financial system to launder their funds and, where bad actors are not identified at entry, to detect any suspicious financial activity and provide appropriate background to competent authorities. (Whether they are successful in this endeavour is another question.)

More recently large international banks have been upping the ante and have started to disengage altogether from clients from certain geographical regions or certain sectors because they consider the AML/CFT risks too great- a development known as “de-risking”. Often the business lines or countries exited are those that aren’t particularly profitable; the argument being that only a substantial profit margin justifies taking a larger than average risk. The amount of due diligence to be conducted on a customer cuts into that profit margin and the higher the perceived risk of that customer, the more the due diligence, the lower the profit.


One of the sectors particularly affected are non-profit organizations (NPOs). This is an unfortunate consequence of the mistaken and remarkably persistent idea that all NPOs pose a high AML/CFT risk. According to a report published earlier this month by the Charity and Security Network, two-thirds of U.S.-based NPOs working abroad are facing problems accessing financial services. Apart from account closures and account refusals, these also include delays in wire transfers and increased fees.

Read more at: The World Bank

Regional patriotism, CSME in focus at end-of-summit press conference

new facebook-28-intersessional

The CARICOM Conference of Heads of Government recently concluded their Inter-Sessional meeting, which was was held  on February 16 -17, 2017 in Georgetown, Guyana. The meeting ended with a press briefing at the Marriott Hotel, which was addressed by Chairman of the Conference, His Excellency David Granger, President of Guyana, Prime Minister of Grenada, Dr. the Hon. Keith Mitchell who will be the next Chairman, as well as CARICOM Secretary General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque. Some of the topics addressed included  the CSME, Correspondent Banking, CARICOM-US Relations, Regional Security, Tourism, and CARIFESTA, which will be held in Barbados this August.  More in this video report: