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Barbados Prime Minister Meets with Regional Private Sector

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Prime Minister Mia Mottley speaking to the regional private sector’s Chief Executive Officers and other officials during a recent meeting. (Photo Credit: BGIS)

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Thursday June 6,
2019
– Prime
Minister Mia Mottley has underscored the importance of the regional private
sector becoming a type of associate institution of CARICOM, saying it would be
good for the Caribbean.

She expressed that view recently when she met at her
official residence, Ilaro Court, with the regional private sector’s Chief
Executive Officers to discuss the establishment of a regional body and
implementation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).

The Prime Minister said it was ironic that after
more than four decades of CARICOM’S existence, formal steps were now being
taken “assiduously” to ensure the labour movement and the regional private
sector’s formal participation in the regional organisation.

“As I indicated when we met in Port-of-Spain last
year, it is impossible for us to see the growth of the regional economies and
the creation of a single economy without understanding how best we can work
with the [regional] entities…

“The meeting that I had at my office a few weeks
ago would have allowed you to have a common platform as to what we are
beginning to expect and anticipate from your participation,” Mottley told the
regional private sector group.

She explained that the work with respect to the integration
of the financial markets and the ability to allow the unlocking of access to
capital would soon be completed by the CSME Unit.

The Barbadian leader added that those decisions
would then be put before the Finance Ministers and Heads of Government over the
next few months.

According to Mottley, those important decisions
would not only be significant for the regional private sector and governments
who wanted to see growth in the economies, but a signal to the international
community that this region was not prepared to speak to them in a mendicant
framework, but would do its part to ensure its growth and development.

She said the international community should be
held partially accountable for the consequences of the current economic
circumstances in the region.

“Whether it be by reason of their contribution to
the degradation of our climate or the terms of trade under which we have had to
perform, more often or not they use a one-size fits all approach that has
refused to take into account that our capacity to distort trade in goods and
services is just simply not there.

“And to that extent, therefore, for us to have
consequences that have seen the implosion of domestic production within our
markets simply to comply with international rules that really did not need our
compliance, … has led to negative consequences in terms of loss of jobs and
investment within our markets,” Mottley explained.

The Prime Minister emphasized the importance of
this region putting in place air bridges, saying if this was not done, the
opportunities would be constrained.

She said that since there was $47 billion
available in savings, appropriate instruments should be introduced to allow
governments to find a level of participation for ordinary Caribbean people with
respect to how renewable energy enterprises were financed.

“We have as leaders to create that space for
Caribbean people to be carried along in this investment framework. Similarly,
to the extent that we do rely on foreign capital, we need to do so while
ensuring that the redemption of the bonds or instruments happens, not in the
foreign exchange in which it was raised but the local currency,” Mottley said.

President and Group Chief Executive Officer of
the Massy Group of Companies, Gervase Warner, said they were examining how they
could create a Caribbean private sector organization to engage with the Heads
of Government on issues surrounding the CSME implementation.

He said they spent time thinking how to
constitute a body that would be representative of all member countries of
CARICOM.

“We wanted to make sure that not just big
business was represented but also smaller businesses from different industries
also had a chance to participate,” he said.

“What we want to make sure is that we have within
this organization a structure that would allow us in each of the countries to
find a way to hold meetings and to have engagement with even a broader set of
actors and participants who may not necessarily be members of the council, but
you will pull in for specific issues.”

Warner stated that Haiti, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, OECS, Barbados, Guyana, Suriname and Belize were represented by the regional group and work had to be done on the initial agenda.

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Standard & Poor’s Says The Bahamas in Good Position to Handle Fallout from Hurricane Dorian

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NASSAU, The Bahamas, Tuesday
October 15, 2019
– International credit ratings agency Standard & Poor’s
(S&P) says The Bahamas may actually be able to recover from the catastrophic
Hurricane Dorian without too much economic fallout.

It said in a recent bulletin that early signs suggest the country
is well positioned to handle the fallout, emerging without any “meaningful deterioration
in…the economy, fiscal performance, debt burden, and external assessment”. It added
that Dorian’s long-term impact on credit quality could be limited, particularly
if the government responds in a timely manner to various challenges.

That is the case, S&P said, although the Category 5 hurricane
last month devastated Abaco and Grand Bahama in the northern part of The Bahamas,
which account for 15-20 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP).

“Despite the significant damage to Abaco and Grand Bahama, several
factors suggest that the long-term effects of the hurricane on The Bahamas’ credit
quality could be limited,” it said, pointing to the fact that the hurricane
struck outside of peak tourist season, and the physical damage was concentrated
on two islands that together attract only about 20 per cent of tourists.

“Other destinations within the country, including Nassau, the
capital and economic centre, were unaffected. Furthermore, before the
hurricane, the country had been on track to achieve good GDP growth in 2019,
slightly exceeding our forecast. The government also recently reported a
relatively strong fiscal performance in 2019 (year ended June 30). Based on the
information currently available, the timing and location of the hurricane’s
impact, and the country’s relatively strong economic and fiscal performance
year to date, it is possible that Dorian may not lead to a meaningful
deterioration in The Bahamas’ economy, fiscal performance, debt burden, and
external assessment.”

The assessment came on the heels of a Central Bank of The Bahamas prediction
that the economy will resume healthy economic growth in 2021, following a
potential Dorian-induced contraction next year as rebuilding gathers pace.

Despite the optimism, S&P did note that The Bahamas’ economic
growth and fiscal discipline have become extremely vulnerable to weather-related
disasters.

“This event highlights the importance of considering environmental
factors in our analysis of The Bahamas, given its location in the Atlantic
hurricane belt, and the large geographic dispersion of its 700 islands over
almost 14,000 square kilometres,” the ratings agency said.

“In the past five years, The Bahamas has been affected by at least
four other serious hurricanes. We believe this elevated environmental risk has
contributed to below-average growth for The Bahamas, when compared with peers
with similar GDP per capita. The Bahamas has taken steps to mitigate the risks
related to increasingly frequent climate disasters by strengthening its public
finances, planning for these events, and obtaining insurance. Despite these
efforts, vulnerability to natural disasters continues to affect the country’s
creditworthiness.”

S&P said it will continue to follow the developments and pace
of recovery efforts, including the Government’s ability to respond effectively
to the many challenges of recovery.

“We will focus particularly on the implications for long-term economic growth, government finances, debt burden and the country’s external position. We could lower the rating if we come to expect that public finances deteriorate compared with medium-term expectations, either because of the fiscal impact of the hurricane or weakened political commitment to fiscal sustainability.”

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Caribbean Export Signs three MOUs with Strategic Partners to support Region’s Export Growth

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Anthony Bradshaw, Officer in Charge at Caribbean Export (centre) signs MOUs with Leonor von Limburg of GIZ (left) and Bienvenue Angui of BVMW (right).

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Tuesday October 15, 2019 – The recently held CARIFORUM-EU Business Forum drew record numbers of senior level European and Caribbean policy makers, European buyers and Caribbean exhibitors, to the fourth hosting of the event and the first ever to be held in Frankfurt, Germany. 

And three Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) were
signed between the Caribbean Export Development Agency and key stakeholders in
Europe – the BVMW (Der Bundesverband mittelständische Wirtschaft), the GIZ
(Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH) and the
Caribbean Council, to ensure continued success of the strategic sectors and
collaboration between the two regions.

“The CARIFORUM-EU Business Forum was designed
as a platform to do exactly this – to strengthen business networks and foster a
closer trade and investment relationship between the Caribbean and in this case
Europe,” said Anthony Bradshaw, Officer in Charge at Caribbean Export which
hosted the forum in collaboration with the European Union and GIZ.

Minister of Trade and CARICOM Affairs from Grenada,
Oliver Joseph thanked the Caribbean’s partners, the European Commission and GIZ
as well as the new partners with whom MOUs were signed, for supporting the
Caribbean in its use of the CARIFORUM-EU EPA.

“We need to take full advantage of this agreement.  We must also realize that as a region, as small developing economies, we cannot do it alone. And so I want to thank our partners in Europe, the European Commission, the GIZ, our new friends in Germany, the LAV and the BVMW, the Caribbean Council from the UK… you are helping us and will be helping us to make the EPA work for the peoples of the Caribbean,” he said.

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Jamaica to Get Increased Airlift Out of South America in Time for Christmas Travel

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LatAm Airlines will inaugurate three weekly flights from Chile and other South American countries to Montego Bay, bringing the total weekly flights between South America and Jamaica to 14.

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Tuesday
October 15, 2019
– Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett says beginning December,
Jamaica will see an increase in flights out of South America, which will bring
more visitors from the continent to the island.

He said LatAm Airlines will inaugurate three weekly flights from
Chile and other South American countries to Montego Bay.

This is in addition to 11 flights now offered by Copa Airlines out
of Panama, to bring the total weekly flights between South America and Jamaica
to 14.

“That will go a long way in helping us to further build out the
South American market, which, right now, is the fastest growing for Jamaica, at
some 23 per cent at this time,” Minister Bartlett said.

He said these marketing engagements are critical in fortifying the
resilience of the island’s tourism industry against any fallout that could
result from shocks such as a global recession.

“Jamaica is [being] proactive in its efforts to ensure that our markets are secured, so that if there’s fallout from one end, we can pick up from another and keep our growth momentum at the level that we had projected,” the Tourism Minister said.

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