News

CDB Ramping up Research to Address Caribbean Region’s Challenges

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Monday February 11, 2019 – The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) is ramping up its research activity to help regional Governments better tackle challenges related to environmental sustainability, economic and fiscal resilience, and implementation.

“Taking it a step further, this year, the Bank proposes to publish research that focuses on assessing and measuring the vulnerability and resilience of our Borrowing Member Countries. This work will improve the measurement and therefore the utility of the index as one of the tools CDB uses to allocate our most concessional resources,” said CDB’s Director of Economics Dr Justin Ram.

The Director stressed the urgent need for reform and action to build macroeconomic resilience, environmental sustainability, productivity and competitiveness, and human capacity—a position outlined in the Bank’s study, entitled A Policy Blueprint for Caribbean Economies.

Reviewing the economic support CDB provided to help countries build resilient economies and societies, the Director highlighted investments in Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands (BVI) in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017.

In Anguilla, CDB provided an initial US$5.6 million hurricane recovery support loan to help the Government meet external debt payments. The Bank followed this with a US$9.3 million exogenous-shock policy-based loan (PBL), which aims to restore fiscal sustainability and enhance the country’s resilience against natural disasters.

The BVI benefitted from an emergency relief loan of US$67 million which CDB approved in December 2017. The Bank expanded this support with a US$50 million PBL in March 2018.

Ram noted that economic and financial volatility and uncertainties were at play in a number of BMCs.

“As such, building economic and fiscal resilience and the shoring-up of financial buffers were high priorities of the Borrowing Members and the Bank,” he said.

One such intervention included a US$75 million PBL to the Government of Barbados to support implementation of the Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation Programme.

The Bank is also working to assist BMCs in improving their implementation rates, another issue underlying the region’s economic and social challenges. This challenge is outlined in Implementation: Delivering Results to Transform Caribbean Society, a research product the Bank published last year.

“One reason why our development goals tend to be difficult to achieve is that transformation in this region is usually a slow process. Implementation rates for public projects are as low as 20 per cent in some countries. In 2017, the Bank was keen to better understand, and propose solutions for addressing these implementation challenges. In doing so, we investigated regional and global best practices for achieving quicker and better development results,” stated Ram.

Subsequently, the Government of St Lucia approached CDB for assistance and is now benefitting from a US$5 million project to support the establishment of an Implementation and Delivery Mechanism.

Dr Ram said the Bank’s research which includes forthcoming publications on digital transformation and regional energy markets, worked alongside the Bank’s economic interventions as tools in building stronger economies and accelerating economic transformation in the region.

“Transformation requires, fiscal discipline, human development, environmental resilience and an improved business environment. Our publications seek to provide our policymakers with the tools needed to chart this transformational path,” he stated.

Courtesy: Caribbean 360

You don't talk for us

THE 15-country strong Caribbean Community (Caricom) has written to Secretary General of the Organisation of the American States (OAS) Luis Almagro Lemes calling on him to make it clear that he did not speak on their behalf when he recognised Juan Guaido, the head of the Venezuelan National Assembly, as the interim president of Venezuela.

Caricom is seeking to distance itself from Almagro’s position as it views its role in the Venezuelan leadership crisis as non-intervention, non-interference and is hoping to have the matter resolved diplomatically.

In a letter dated January 31, Dr Timothy Harris, Caricom chairman and Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis, explained that Caricom held an emergency meeting on January 24, one day after Venezuela’s National Assembly voted to declare Guaido as the country’s interim president, and mandated him to write Almagro “to express our disapproval and grave concern that you in your capacity as Secretary-General, have adopted, by recognising the President of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Juan Guaido as interim president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela”.

 

Courtesy: Trinidad Express

Caribbean rum producers move to protect intellectual property

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados — Caribbean rum producers met in Barbados recently to discuss how best to protect the intellectual property behind regional rums.

The attending members of the West Indies Rum & Spirits Producers Association (WIRSPA) heard from several experts, including Francis Fay, head of geographical indications in the European Union Commission and Bernard O’Connor, a well-respected international attorney on intellectual property and author on geographical indications.

The half-day panel discussion examined the establishment of geographical indications (GIs) for rums from individual countries. Several in the grouping — Barbados, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Guyana – are close to or have already established national GIs for their products. Participants also discussed ways to protect and advance the reputation of the authentic Caribbean rums produced by WIRSPA members.

Speaking at a reception and tasting of member brands, Komal Samaroo, chairman of the grouping and head of the Demerara Distillers conglomerate, observed that while the industry was one of the oldest in the region, its future potential was considerable. Already the largest agro-based export earner after minerals for CARICOM/CARIFORUM states, it is also its premier export product with an international reputation for quality.

Protecting this heritage and developing the opportunity, said Samaroo, called for careful management of the intellectual property intrinsic to the value of the product. The panel discussion and the view of the international experts were that a participatory approach based on broad consensus was a key factor in successfully realising the potential of the industry in the global market.

Also speaking at the event, minister for agriculture and food security for Barbados, Indar A. Weir, gave his government’s commitment to supporting the industry, to achieve its full potential in the international market.

The Caribbean is widely regarded as the ‘home’ of rum and where the word ‘rum’ was first coined. Its countries have long been famed for their products and many have historical records showing rum being produced here since the 17th century.

Courtesy: Caribbean News Now

Statement by the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM on the latest developments in the situation in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela

The following Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) – Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago; Foreign Ministers of Grenada and Suriname;, meeting by video-conference on 24 January 2019, issued the following statement.

“Heads of Government are following closely the current unsatisfactory situation in Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, a neighbouring Caribbean country.  They expressed grave concern about the plight of the people of Venezuela and the increasing volatility of the situation brought about by recent developments which could lead to further violence, confrontation, breakdown of law and order and greater suffering for the people of the country.

Heads of Government reaffirmed their guiding principles of non-interference and non-intervention in the affairs of states, respect for sovereignty, adherence to the rule of law, and respect for human rights and democracy.

Heads of Government reiterated that the long-standing political crisis, which has been exacerbated by recent events, can only be resolved peacefully through meaningful dialogue and diplomacy.

In this regard, Heads of Government offered their good offices to facilitate dialogue among all parties to resolve the deepening crisis.

Reaffirming their commitment to the tenets of Article 2 (4) of the United Nations Charter which calls for Members States to refrain from the threat or the use of force and Article 21 of the Charter of the Organization of American States which refers to territorial inviolability, the Heads of Government emphasized the importance of the Caribbean remaining a Zone of Peace.

Heads of Government called on external forces to refrain from doing anything to destabilize the situation and underscored the need to step back from the brink and called on all actors, internal and external, to avoid actions which would escalate an already explosive situation to the detriment of the people of Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and which could have far-reaching negative consequences for the wider region.

Heads of Government agreed that the Chairman of Conference, Dr the Honourable Timothy Harris, Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis would seek an urgent meeting with the United Nations Secretary-General to request the U.N’s assistance in resolving the issue.”

 

Courtesy: CARICOM Today 

Carib-Coast climate change project launches in Guadeloupe

POINTE-À-PITRE, Guadeloupe — Officials at the Office of Geological and Mining Research (BRGM) gathered in Guadeloupe with Caribbean partners last week to officially launch the Carib-Coast program. In the context of repeated storm crises and rising sea levels, the Carib-Coast project aims to initiate a Caribbean network for the prevention and crisis management of coastal risks in relation to climate change.

It comprises pooling, co-constructing and disseminating knowledge, and approaches to coastal risks management in the Caribbean. The project includes the entire island Caribbean with focus on the French Caribbean territories of Guadeloupe, Martinique and St Martin, alongside Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and Puerto Rico.

It will notably provide a digital marine submersion modeling platform, a coastal erosion monitoring and prevention network based on nature-based solutions and operational risk management tools. Benefiting from a broad partnership and piloted by the BRGM of Guadeloupe, this project is supported by the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) and the Caribbean Community Centre for Climate Change (5C), among others.

 

Caribbean partners:

– UWI (St Augustine campus, Trinidad and Tobago)
– MonaGis Institute (UWI Mona campus, Jamaica)
– Institute of Marine Affairs, Trinidad & Tobago, CARICOOS
– Universidad Puerto Rico

Courtesy: Caribbean News Now

Save the Date: Trinidad and Tobago Public Consultation on the Decriminalizing of Mariijuana

The Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs of Trinidad and Tobago invites interested parties to a public consultation on the decriminalising of marijuana in the twin-isle republic.

Interested parties are required to RSVP at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The consultation takes place on Wednesday, January 23rd, 2019 at 1pm - 4pm in Port of Spain.

Details on the venue are forthcoming.

Cuba to expand facilities for foreign trade

HAVANA, Cuba (ACN) — Cuba will develop an integrated digital platform this year in order to facilitate foreign trade operations, which will be linked to the simplification of procedures for the export and import of goods.

The Single Window of Foreign Trade (VUCE by its Spanish acronym) will provide information and will allow managing, through electronic means, the required approvals for the entry and exit of the products.

According to Vivian Herrera, an official in the ministry of foreign trade and foreign investment, the implementation of VUCE will go through several phases due to its complexity and should be fully operational by the end of 2019.

The establishment of the window, she added, responds to the commitment to trade facilitation contracted by the Cuban government before the World Trade Organization (WTO) and has the technical assistance of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTD).

This will mean an important step forward, as until now only the electronic single window systems at the General Customs Office and the one at the Mariel Special Development Zone were operating, Herrera said.

Streamlining foreign trade operations is essential for Cuba given its economy, with a high dependence on external links, which includes the acquisition of essential items such as fuel and food.

According to the Cuban Chamber of Commerce, more than 3,000 foreign companies participate in these transactions, and the purpose is to continue diversifying the market for exports and imports.

 Courtesy: Caribbean News Now

St. Ann's Declaration on CSME

Courtesy: CARICOM

 

WE, the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), meeting at Port of Spain Trinidad and Tobago 3-4 December, 2018 on the occasion of the 18th Special Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM;

Recalling the 1989 Declaration of Grand Anse which initiated the process towards the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), the signing of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas in 2001, which established the CSME and the launch of the CSME in 2006;

Convinced that the CSME continues to be the most viable platform for supporting growth and development in the Member States of CARICOM;

Recognising the need to make it more closely attuned to the needs and priorities of Member States and contributing more visibly to growth and development and to the welfare of the people of the Community;

Having reviewed its progress and acknowledged that it should have been further advanced;

Having considered the “Report of the Commission to Review Jamaica’s Relations within the CARICOM and CARIFORUM Frameworks”;

Having also considered the perspectives of the Member States of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS);

Underscoring the critical role of the CARICOM Development Fund (CDF) in supporting the CSME;

Having exchanged views with the representatives of the private sector and labour and encouraged by their commitment to the regional integration project and their recommendations for the enhancement of the CSME;

Recognising that the goal of our regional integration process is to enhance the well-being of all of the citizens of our Community;

 

DECLARE:

We are committed to take action at the national level to advance the regional integration agenda;

We are determined to ensure the equitable distribution among the peoples of the Community of the gains realised through the regional integration process;

We have agreed on a formalised, structured mechanism to facilitate dialogue between the Councils of the Community and the private sector and labour;

We have also agreed to amend the Treaty to include as Associate Institutions representative bodies of Private Sector and Labour;

We have agreed that in accordance with Article 50 of the Revised Treaty which deals with the principle of accelerated implementation, that the principle will be applied to any initiative which is consistent with the Revised Treaty;

We agreed that that those Member States so willing would move towards full free movement within the next three (3) years;

We have mandated that steps be taken to deepen cooperation and collaboration between the Secretariats of CARICOM and the OECS to avoid duplication and maximise the utility of scarce resources;

We will reinforce the operation of our security mechanisms to ensure the integrity of the regime allowing the free movement of CARICOM nationals;

We will examine the re-introduction of the single domestic space for passengers in the Region;

We have agreed to work towards having a single security check for direct transit passengers on multi-stop intra-Community flights;

We will conduct a special session on Air and Maritime Transportation at the Intersessional meeting of the Conference in February 2019 to focus on this critical aspect of integration as a whole and the CSME in particular;

We will include Agricultural Workers, Beauty Service Practitioners, Barbers and Security Guards to the agreed categories of skilled nationals who are entitled to move freely and seek employment within the Community;

We reiterate that that a skills certificate issued by one Member State would be recognised by all Member States;

We will complete legislative and other arrangements in all Member States for all categories of Free Movement of Skilled Persons;

We will finalise the regime that permits citizens and companies of the Community to participate in the Public Procurement processes in Member States by the year 2019;

We will take all necessary steps to allow for mutual recognition of companies incorporated in a CARICOM Member State;

We have mandated the Community Council to develop appropriate recommendations on the proposal for the introduction of a regime of sanctions for the consideration of the Conference;

We welcome Haiti’s commitment to full integration into the CSME by 2020;

We have appointed Professor Avinash Persaud to lead a restructured Commission on the Economy to advise Member States on a Growth Agenda for the Community

 

Other Members of the Commission on the Economy (CCE) –

Mr. Chester Humphrey
Dr. Damien King
Mr Georgy McGuire
Mr Roger McLean
Dr. Wendell Samuel
Mr. P. B. Scott
Ms. Therese Turner-Jones
Ms. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
Mr. Pascal Lamy

 

 

Joint Statement from the Fourth Meeting of the CARIFORUM-EU Consultative Committee

1. The fourth Meeting of the CARIFORUM-EU EPA Consultative Committee (CC) took place on 3rd and 4th December 2018 in Castries, Saint Lucia, co-chaired from the CARIFORUM side by Dav-Ernan Kowlessar and from the EU side by Brenda King. According to the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the CARIFORUM States and the European Union, the task of the CC is to assist the Joint CARIFORUM-EU Council in promoting dialogue and cooperation between representatives of organisations of civil society. The agreement also recognises the role of the CC in monitoring the implementation of all economic, social and environmental aspects of the EPA and in strengthening dialogue between representatives of civil society.

2. In order for the CC to fulfil its role and to provide added value to EPA implementation, it needs (1) the monitoring and evaluation framework to be in place and implemented, and (2) to be made aware of its budget allocation under the 11th EDF so it can (a) plan for its meetings, (b) manage its work plan, and (c) identify which organisation will act as Secretariat to the CARIFORUM side of the CC. This is vital for the CC to achieve its 3 main goals which are: (i) to be an advocate; (ii) to provide technical support and advice; and (iii) to increase visibility and awareness, inter alia via the dissemination of information.

3. The CC repeats its call for permanent observer status at the Trade and Development Committee (T&DC) in order to guarantee the timely and relevant contribution of the CC to the Joint Council.

4. The CC thanks the EU Commission for the introduction of the new facility that allowed the delegates to attend the 4th meeting of the CC. The Co-chairs welcome the opportunity to discuss with the Commission how this facility can be further improved.

5. The CC welcomed the exchange with the representatives from the CARIFORUM Directorate and from the EU Delegation to CARIFORUM at the meeting, which was valuable and appreciated, as it reflected the acknowledgement of the CC’s role in the implementation of the EPA. In addition, the CC especially welcomed the presence of the representative of the Parties from Saint Lucia at the morning session of the first day . The CC strongly encourages that this good practice continues at future meetings of the CC.

6. The CC highlights that, given the slow pace of the implementation of the EPA and the marginal benefits achieved to date, the CC therefore requests that it receives the Terms of Reference for the 2020 EPA Review as it is important that this incorporates recommendations from the previous review. The CC also wants to be an active partner in this review as it is of crucial importance to more directly involve civil society organisations to ensure that the benefits of the agreement are realised.

 

7. The CC additionally calls for this review to include detailed analyses on the impacts of the EPA on trade in goods and services as well as investments. Furthermore, the analysis needs to include the relevant UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) including indicators that measure social and environmental impacts, ILO core labour standards and Decent Work.

8. The CC regrets that most CARIFORUM member countries do not yet apply the regional preference clause, which is key for promoting intra-regional trade, regional integration and the development of regional value chains. The CC strongly recommends that this be a focus for resolution in the upcoming review.

9. The CC regrets that some CARIFORUM participants were not able to obtain a Visa to attend the fourth meeting being held in a CARIFORUM member state. This brings to focus our call for implementation of the regional preference clause and the mechanisms for temporary entry of Natural persons (Mode 4).

10. On Post-Cotonou negotiations, the CARIFORUM side of the CC should contribute to the development of the future priorities for the CARIFORUM region and wants the opportunity to engage directly with the technical expert, based in Brussels, that will support this process.

11. The CC appreciates that the ‘octroi de mer’ aims to support local industries in outermost regions (ORs) until 2020. This decision is based on TFEU Article 349 which calls for specific measures to address the structural factors of these regions, namely small size, remoteness and dependency on a limited range of exports. The combination and permanency of these factors impede the development of the ORs, inter alia though diseconomies of scale. The CC aims to highlight that CARIFORUM SIDS share these same features, so this should be taken into account within the EPA implementation framework as regards Other Duties and Charges (ODCs). The CC considers that under the principle of coherence and analytical parallelism, since ‘octroi de mer’ is grandfathered under the EPA, some flexibility should remain as for the elimination of ODCs under the same circumstances and respecting a reasonable and jointly agreed framework.

12. The CC requests that the T&DC pays attention to Article 16 para. 3 of the EPA, which refers to the elimination of ODCs on EU products by CARIFORUM States by December 2018. The CC asks for an update on which CARIFORUM States have or have not, or cannot eliminate the ODCs due to economic problems and request that there is some flexibility from the EU.

13. The CC wants to facilitate a bridge between civil society organisations from Europe and the CARIFORUM region by creating an online medium to share knowledge and opportunities for capacity building, projects and programmes. We believe this will create more impactful partnerships amongst for example; employers, capital, consumers, youth and trade unions.

14. The CC notes that most EU Member States have not yet put in place the administrative arrangements to facilitate the market access granted under Article 83 of the EPA for Contractual Service Suppliers (CSS) and Independent Professionals (IPs) from CF states and requests that this be established. [see annex]

15. The CC welcomes the EU’s second Report on Implementation of EU Free Trade Agreements and notes that it confirms the initial analysis of the CC that CF Trade in Services have increased approximately seven fold between 2013 and 2016. Given the lack of disaggregated data to understand these figures, and the absence of a monitoring and evaluation framework, the CC proposes that a project be defined and managed by a CC sub-group to better understand the sub-sectors and regions that account for these changes.

16. The CC notes the recent adoption by the European Union of the Regulation (EU) 2018/848 on organic agriculture, which, amongst other changes, replaces the current import regime based on “equivalence” to a need to prove “full compliance” with EU rules and the list of authorised substances. While acknowledging the new EU rules bring clarity and improvements in certain points in the implementation of the EU Organic Regulation, the CC recommends that technical assistance is provided to help with this transition.

17. The CC purports that, in view of fulfilling its role as an advocate, it will produce regular views on topics relevant to the EPA and its operation. The dissemination to the relevant stakeholders will raise visibility, awareness and understanding of the EPA. The CC would therefore want to access the necessary resources including the existing communications infrastructure.

CAIC supports referendum to replace Privy Council as CARICOM Court of Appeal

Port-of-Spain, Trinidad - On November 6, 2018 Antigua and Barbuda and Grenada will go to the polls to vote in a referendum to determine whether to replace the Privy Council with the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).

Despite calls from the Opposition Parties in Antigua and Barbuda, and Grenada to reject the CCJ, the Caribbean Association of Industry and Commerce (CAIC), encourages the electorate to choose the CCJ. In this regard, a strong regional court, in the form of the CCJ, will strengthen the Caribbean Single Market and help more Caribbean companies to build global business models, and advance the Caribbean as a self-sufficient, self-reliant and mature region.

The CAIC has already signed a Memorandum of Understanding with OHADAC, which seeks to advance the harmonisation of business law in the Caribbean. The CAIC also represents the private sector on the CCJ Trust Fund, as well as it sits as an observer to the Working Group of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL). These representations and lobbies are in line with the strategic vision of the CAIC to build more sustainable, value adding and global enterprises that have strong business ethos.

As a region, we attempt to break the mental bonds of colonisation and while we have faith in and have modelled our governing, legal and judicial institutions after the British systems, we have to adapt these frameworks to be relevant and add value to the Caribbean we have become whilst looking to the future.

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