Security, De-risking and BREXIT high on CARICOM Heads meeting
Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Heads of Government will meet for their 37th Regular Meeting on 4-6 July 2016, in Georgetown, Guyana, at the Guyana Pegasus Hotel.
In the search for opportunities and regional solutions to challenges, the Meeting will advance matters pertaining to regional security – economic and otherwise; and the social well-being of CARICOM citizens, a statement from the secretariat said.
Correspondent Banking is among the top agenda issues.
The body explained that “if all correspondent banking relations are withdrawn, the region will be isolated from the rest of the world and will be unable to carry out some of the most basic of bank transactions. Critical services including remittance transfers, international trade, and the facilitation of credit card settlements for local clients, among other services, will be affected.”
This issue comes as a result of a “de-risking” strategy in which several international banks, mainly in the US and Europe signaled an unwillingness to continue carrying out businesses with regional banks. The Caribbean has been labeled as a tax haven and accused of lax tax regimes and avenues for money laundering and terrorism financing.
CARICOM has deemed this move as “as an economic assault” tantamount to an economic blockade against Member States, noting that CARICOM countries have complied with all global regulatory standards, including those established by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Global Forum, and have been scrutinized in every detail by the IMF and other multilateral institutions.
Noting this, the region is fighting back. The body has appointed a high-level advocacy group, led by the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Hon. Gastown Browne, to represent the interests of the Region in addressing the issue, including approaches to the UN, the WTO and the US Government.
The Meeting will take stock of actions to date, and seek to advance the search for solutions to this matter.
Also on the agenda is the yet to be determined implications of the British decision to leave the European Union (EU), a key partner in the Community’s development.
Given that majority of CARICOM Member States were former colonies of Britain, which was a key ally of the Region within the EU, some of the concerns of members states includes, effects on trade agreements the Region has with the EU, a drop-off in arrivals in tourist-dependent Member States such as Saint Lucia and Barbados where the UK is a major source market and a decrease in development assistance, the body highlighted.
CARICOM said, “while some have adopted a wait and see stance, confident that any domino effect will not occur in the short-term, others are predicting immediate consequences and want the CARICOM Member States to appreciate the value of regional integration and band firmly together to chart the way forward.”
The BREXIT vote has sent Britain and the rest of the world into a tailspin. The pound sterling fell in value to the lowest in 30 years, and international financial markets took a downturn, as the implications hit home.