Finland signals interest in CARICOM’s bio-energy

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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.”


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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…)

EU wants to advance common agenda with CARICOM in global fora

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GEORGETOWN, GUYANA, CARICOM SECRETARIAT –  The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) on Wednesday 15 March, 2017, accredited a new Ambassador of the European Union (EU), with the new envoy advocating for the relationship to more effectively advance a common agenda in global and multilateral fora.

In presenting her letters of credence to the CARICOM Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, Her Excellency Daniela Tramacere pledged that in the face of “populism on both shores of the Atlantic,” the EU will continue to foster political dialogue with the Region.

The new EU Ambassador was accredited at a simple ceremony in the office of the Secretary-General at the Headquarters of the CARICOM Secretariat in Georgetown, Guyana. The CARICOM Secretary-General expressed the Community’s profound appreciation to the EU for decades of technical cooperation and assistance to regional development in critical areas. He noted that the various programmes initiated under the European Development Fund framework had been of immense benefit to CARICOM Member States.

Ambassador Tramacere said that building on the process which established the ambitious December 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change, CARICOM and the EU should pursue a new multilateral political partnership to address global challenges.

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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

CARICOM records productive engagements at UNGA

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Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Heads of Government and Foreign Ministers took full advantage of the just-concluded 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly to strengthen diplomatic relations with members the global community.

They had a fruitful engagement with United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon on the Community’s priorities and developments in the UN, in a final exchange of views and ideas prior to him demitting office in December 2016. The UN SG lauded CARICOM’s strong partnership and thanked CARICOM Member States for their continued leadership in climate change and for their efforts to implement the 2030 sustainable development agenda. CARICOM noted the resource and capacity constraints in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Community had successful meetings with the Foreign Ministers of Japan, the United Arab Emirates, Mexico, and Morocco in an effort to forge new relations and deepen existing ties to support regional development. In this regard, discussions were held with a representative from the Italian Ministry of the Environment regarding the implementation of an existing Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with CARICOM Member States, and with senior UN officials to discuss ongoing cooperation in security and elections.

CARICOM Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, Assistant Secretary-General of the Directorate of Foreign and Community Relations, Ambassador Colin Granderson and other representatives of the CARICOM Secretariat held productive discussions with the President of Costa Rica, His Excellency Luis Guillermo Solís Rivera. (more…)