CARICOM SG asks Sweden’s help on blacklisting issue

Her Excellency Elisabeth Eklund and CARICOM Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque during the accreditation ceremony on Wednesday
Her Excellency Elisabeth Eklund and CARICOM Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque during the accreditation ceremony on Wednesday

Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Ambassador Irwin LaRocque has urged Sweden to use its position in two major international organisations to highlight the unfair labelling of some of the Community’s Member States as “non-cooperative tax jurisdictions”.

Speaking at the CARICOM Secretariat’s Turkeyen, Guyana headquarters during the accreditation ceremony of Sweden’s news Ambassador to the Community, the Secretary-General said, “as we seek to diversify our economies and build our services sector, some of our Member States, engaged in financial services, have been labelled as “non-cooperative tax jurisdictions”. This is despite the fact that the countries in question are not so designated by the relevant global authorities, such as the Financial Action Task Force and the OECD Global Forum.”

“As a member of the EU and the OECD, Sweden can assist in encouraging these bodies to be guided by the informed position of the relevant global regulatory authorities and desist from their unnecessary seemingly punitive actions,” he added.

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Remittances to developing countries decline for second consecutive year

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Remittances to developing countries fell for a second consecutive year in 2016, a trend not seen in three decades, says the latest edition of the Migration and Development Brief, released on Friday the World Bank’s Spring Meetings.

The Bank estimates that officially recorded remittances to developing countries amounted to $429 billion in 2016, a decline of 2.4 percent over $440 billion in 2015. Global remittances, which include flows to high-income countries, contracted by 1.2 percent to $575 billion in 2016, from $582 billion in 2015.

Low oil prices and weak economic growth in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and the Russian Federation are taking a toll on remittance flows to South Asia and Central Asia, while weak growth in Europe has reduced flows to North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa.

The decline in remittances, when valued in U.S. dollars, was made worse by a weaker euro, British pound and Russian ruble against the U.S. dollar.
Read more at: World Bank

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

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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…)