News

Caribbean-US Relations Need A Reset

Thirty years ago this coming week, American and Caribbean forces landed in Grenada. Depending on one's point of view, it was a rescue mission to restore democracy and civil rights, an illegal invasion of a sovereign Caribbean nation, or possibly both. At the time, it divided the region's governments. For those who supported the US, it enabled the emergence of a strong alliance of conservative Caribbean interests in government and the private sector just as it appeared that the Caribbean and Central American region was fracturing ideologically, and becoming divided in its political and social thinking. Seen from an alternative perspective, it was, for the Caribbean left, and those who aspired to fundamental change in the region or the adoption of aspects of the Cuban socialist model, a defeat. It made clear that factionalism would destroy political objectives and that holding elections, even in situations deemed revolutionary, provided legitimacy to a government. It indicated, too, that the US would not hesitate to act unilaterally in the Caribbean if it felt its interests were threatened. It marked a moment when the UK was no longer the nation that was considered by the region or by the US as having the primary responsibility to respond in a crisis within the Caribbean. It demonstrated that the UK had considerations and concerns independent from the US, and revealed before, during and after the intervention, significant differences in the ways that Cuba and the Soviet Union thought about the hemisphere. More generally, the US intervention in Grenada played a pivotal role in the cold war, enabling President Reagan to demonstrate US will to the Soviet Union; showed that no president would ever again accept hostage-taking situations, real or implied; removed Grenada from US concerns and considerations about the insurgency and political situation in Central America; and met many of the Republican Party's late cold war ideological requirements in the hemisphere. HURT HAS HEALED Looking back, however, what is without doubt is that the military operation brought to an end an increasingly unpredictable and dangerous internal situation; although with the loss of many Grenadian, US and Cuban lives. Now, three decades later, much of the hurt has healed; the airport which was both literally and figuratively fought over has been renamed Maurice Bishop International and, as originally planned, is facilitating tourism's growth and Grenada's government is developing initiatives aimed at trying to return the economy to growth through the encouragement of investment and the delivery of new government initiatives. Today, however, the region's relationship with the US could not be more different. In the years since the 1980s, the world and the US have moved on. The cold war ended, economic globalisation proceeded, trade preferences were eroded, and the Caribbean became largely marginal in US and European thinking as new priorities and strategic concerns emerged. So much so that when the US vice-president, Joe Biden, met with Caribbean heads of government in Trinidad in May, just days before the arrival of Chinese President Xi Jingping, Trinidad Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar characterised the exchange as being at times brutal. In Trinidad, the Caribbean made clear its perception that US interest in the Caribbean had become marginal, that relations have been soured by a number of trade disputes, and that the US is not providing enough assistance in relation to security, tax and other issues on which the US is seeking Caribbean compliance. Since then, little has been heard about a planned summit with President Obama. In the past, such differences and new ideas to strengthen the US-Caribbean relationship would have been discussed at the annual Miami conference on the Caribbean. These events, organised by the Washington-based body Caribbean Central American Action (CCAA), enabled Caribbean governments, the private sector and interested parties from Canada, Europe, Japan and elsewhere to focus on the region and its needs. Since its high point in the years before and after the Grenada invasion and, with CCAA's help, the legislating of the Caribbean Basin Initiative, the conference has gone through highs and lows, but as its Executive director, Sally Yearwood, points out, it has never deviated from its central purpose of bringing the issues of the region to the forefront for debate and for action. This year, in a long-overdue move designed to place the conference at the heart of discussion on future US-Caribbean policy and the changing investment and trade relationship, it has relocated the November 20-22 event to Washington. WIDE-RANGING AGENDA Speaking about the objectives of the conference, which is co-sponsored by the US Chamber of Commerce and the Organisation of American States, Yearwood said that the decision to hold it in the US capital will enable Congress, the administration and key bodies to hear and meet with participants at the conference and representatives from the region. "CCAA has always committed itself to holding a conference where business and policy meet," she says. "The conference is not a single-issue or single-country event, but offers a wide-ranging agenda that focuses on policy, specific sectors, and new trade and investment opportunities. It is intended to offer a space for the Caribbean and Central America to address common goals and concerns within a public forum." She also suggests that the conference enables, at a time when budgets are tight, participants to pursue either their own commercial or government agendas while being able to understand from the plenary sessions the bigger picture driving the private- or public-sector decision-making process in the US. Participants already confirmed to speak include representatives of the US administration, business leaders, international financing institutions, and government- and private-sector leaders from the region. Much of what happened in Grenada in the early 1980s, either in the region or beyond, has never been fully or honestly explained, but these are matters one day to be written about at length. More importantly, there is now a pressing need for a much stronger but balanced US-Caribbean relationship that recognises that the US, with Europe and Canada, remain the most significant trade and security partners at a time when, quite rightly, the region's relationships are diversifying in ways that embrace the interests of newer friends. David Jessop is director of the Caribbean Council. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Originally published by the Jamaica Gleanor at: http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20131020/business/business9.html

Cbera Continues To Have A Small But Positive Effect On Beneficiary Countries And U.S. Consumers; Imports Declined In 2012, Says Usitc

The overall effect of the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act (CBERA) on the U.S. economy continues to be negligible while the effect on U.S. consumers and beneficiary countries is small but positive, reports the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) in its publication Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act: Impact on U.S. Industries and Consumers and on Beneficiary Countries, Twenty-first Report, 2011-12. The USITC, an independent, nonpartisan, factfinding federal agency, recently issued its 21st in a series of biennial reports monitoring imports under CBERA. The CBERA program, operative since January 1, 1984, affords preferential tariff treatment to most products of the 16 designated Caribbean and South American countries that received CBERA benefits during the period covered in the report. A seventeenth country, Panama, was a CBERA member until October of 2012 when the US-Panama FTA went into effect. The USITC report covers the impact of CBERA, as modified, on the United States, with particular emphasis on calendar year 2012. CBERA requires the Commission to prepare a biennial report assessing both the actual and the probable future effect of CBERA on the U.S. economy generally, on U.S. industries, and on U.S. consumers. The report also covers the impact of the preference program on the beneficiary countries themselves. Following are highlights of the 2011-12 report. Imports benefiting from CBERA rose strongly in 2011. The sharp increase in CBERA imports in 2011 can be mostly attributed to the U.S. recovery from the economic recession and its effects on the demand for imports and commodity prices, according to the report. Additionally, U.S. imports of textiles and apparel from Haiti increased sharply in 2011 as Haiti rebounded from its devastating earthquake in 2010. The decline in imports benefiting from CBERA in 2012 reflected slower growth in commodity prices and a decline in U.S. demand for energy imports, among other factors. The overall effect of CBERA-exclusive imports (imports that could receive tariff preferences only under CBERA provisions) on the U.S. economy generally and on U.S. industries and consumers continued to be negligible in 2012. The Commission did identify one U.S. industry-methanol-that might face significant negative effects due to competition from CBERA-exclusive imports. Imports under the CBERA program fell from $3.6 billion in 2011 to $3.1 billion in 2012, reflecting a decline in U.S. demand for energy imports, slower growth in commodity prices, the exit of Panama from the CBERA in October 2012 upon the entry into force of the U.S.-Panama FTA, and other factors, such as changes in the U.S. ethanol program on December 31, 2011, that ended certain preferential treatment under CBERA. CBERA has encouraged several beneficiary countries to develop niche exports to the United States, including polystyrene from The Bahamas, fruits and fruit juices from Belize, and electronic products from St. Kitts and Nevis. The Commission finds that investment for the near-term production and export of CBERA-eligible products is not likely to result in imports that would have a measurable economic impact on the U.S. economy generally and on U.S. producers. Although investment in Haiti's export-oriented apparel sector increased significantly in 2011-2012, Haiti will likely remain a small U.S. apparel supplier. Exporting CBERA-eligible goods is a challenge for many CBERA beneficiaries because of supply-side constraints, including inadequate infrastructure. However, special CBERA provisions for Haiti have had a strong, positive effect on export earnings and job creation in Haiti's apparel sector. Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act: Impact on U.S. Industries and Consumers and on Beneficiary Countries, Twenty-first Report, 2011-12 (Inv. No. 332-227, USITC Publication No. 4428, September 2013) is available at http://www.usitc.gov/publications/332/pub4428.pdf. The publication will also be available at federal depository libraries in the United States. A CD-ROM or printed copy of the report may be requested by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., calling 202-205-2000, or writing to the Office of the Secretary, U.S. International Trade Commission, 500 E Street, SW, Washington, DC 20436. Requests may also be faxed to 202-205-2104. USITC general factfinding investigations, such as this one, cover matters related to tariffs or trade and are generally conducted at the request of the U.S. Trade Representative, the House Committee on Ways and Means, or the Senate Committee on Finance. The resulting reports convey the Commission's objective findings and independent analyses on the subjects investigated. The Commission makes no recommendations on policy or other matters in its general factfinding reports. Upon completion of each investigation, the USITC submits its findings and analyses to the requestor. General factfinding investigation reports are subsequently released to the public, unless they are classified by the requestor for national security reasons. Contact: Peg O'Laughlin, 202-205-1819 http://www.usitc.gov/press_room/news_release/2013/er0930ll3.htm http://www.usitc.gov/publications/332/pub4428.pdf

CAIC Kicks Off With Annual General Meeting

PRESS RELEASE For immediate release

The newly re-engineered Caribbean Association of Industry & Commerce (CAIC) will use the platform of its upcoming Annual General Meeting to re-establish its relevance and importance as a key regional private sector representative body. This will be held at the Cave Hill School of Business/UWI, Barbados on November 1, 2013.

Speaking about the rejuvenation process from his office in St. Kitts, the President Mr Carol Evelyn noted that “Our commitment to, and our vision for the region remains unchanged; our priority is working with all the key private sector stakeholders and representative organisations to generate a high level of value for businesses in the region and to contribute to increasing the average GDP/capita of the people living in the region by 90% in seven years time. We are focused on promoting the interests of private sector stakeholders through productive regional and international involvement in the relevant forums, private sector development initiatives, and in all areas pertaining to trade and business development”.

“Our efforts to rebuild this regional machinery have encountered many challenges along the way; most forward is an overall hesitancy within the private sector across the region to commit. This has resulted in the CAIC outsourcing its Secretariat to a regional management consultancy firm that has brought about a financial restructuring of the CAIC which has made it self-sufficient and resourced it with the capability and capacity to respond to its members needs”.

“We recognized that the current economic landscape has changed the way that we do business and to some extent people are in a preservation mode rather than moving more aggressively towards growth, development and expansion. People are indeed looking for value for money and we are pleased to say that we believe we are overcoming this challenge and the stage has been set for more dialogue and collaboration.

“Dialogue is indeed key but we have also been engaged in rebuilding the turnaround since January 2012 by our engagement in practical initiatives and focus on the following:

[list-ul type="check"][li-row]Representation of the private sector at CARICOM and Cariforum events such as the opening of Heads of Government sessions, West Indies Cricket Board and other regional meetings to which the CAIC has been invited.[/li-row] [li-row]Developed and maintained and online presence that is regionally based and globally focused at www.carib-commerce.org and a growing on-line community on its Facebook Page[/li-row] [li-row]Contributed to investment promotion for the Caribbean region through active membership and participation in the Regional Investment Promotion Steering Committee.[/li-row] [li-row]Developed on the existing relationships with extra-regional private sector support frameworks such as the International Chambers of Commerce, Eurochambres, Pacific Islands Private Sector Organisation, Compete Caribbean, Economic Cooperation for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the Caribbean Central American Action (CCAA) to establish a facilitative mechanism for increasing trade and development amongst the private sector. This is intended to facilitate the establishment of six extra-regional CAIC presences in non-traditional or emerging economies such as Canada, Estonia, China, Fiji, Tunisia and Brazil.[/li-row] [li-row]Engaged cooperation with Sistema Economico Latinoamericano y del Caribe (SELA) and engaged a commitment on behalf of the Caribbean private sector on disaster risk mitigation, business continuity and environmental preservation.[/li-row][/list-ul]

“As we move forward the CAIC is fully embracing the technology to facilitate business and dialogue; to this extent financial members will be able to participate in our upcoming AGM through online facilities. Going forward our members will not only be part of face-to-face interactions but also be part of a large facilitated virtual private sector community of interest that is flexible and adaptable and can deliver customized solutions to satisfy a wide range of disparate needs.”

Intra-regionally, the CAIC has been maintaining co-operation and developmental work with its counterparts and stakeholders in the Caribbean including:

1)    Caribbean Court of Justice

2)    Caribbean Development Bank

3)    Cariforum Secretariat

4)    Caribbean Association of Small and Medium Enterprises

5)    Caribbean Association of Investment Promotion Agencies

The CAIC is also very committed to its obligations and liaison with the Caribbean Community Secretariat (CCS) and has continued dialogue on EPA implementation and workability. It has also committed to launch the Caribbean Business Council at the AGM this year.

This meeting will give us opportunity to update our members both on our progress and on the Association’s way forward. It will also reinforce the fact that the CAIC will be an innovative, leading edge, private sector stakeholder driven, highly efficient organisation that maximises the outcomes for Caribbean private sector stakeholders, promotes trade and business growth and development, and will make a major contribution to improving the economic and social status of the peoples of the Caribbean.

For further information you may contact Ms. Jan Sirjusingh at telephone number 1-868-766-3131

Or email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

CARIFORUM DG: ACP-EU Parliamentary Assembly Should Address EU’s Differentiation Policies

(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana)  Caribbean parliamentarians must utilise the opportunity of the 9th Regional Meeting of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) to join with Caribbean leaders in taking a strong stand against the EU’s approach to differentiation.

The EU has indicated that it will apply the principle of differentiation to the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) National Indicative Programmes (NIPs), with the resultant effect that the majority of NIPs in the Caribbean Region will be cut. Such action is regrettable.

The Director-General of the Caribbean Forum of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (CARIFORUM) Directorate in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat, Mr Ivan Ogando Lora, expressed this view en route to the JPA, which will be held in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, from 14-16 February, 2013.

He further stated that “the European Union (EU) has been a valued, longstanding development partner. However, its stance on differentiation has prompted the CARIFORUM Region to take a hard look at this partnership, as, at a time when regional states are counting on reliable resources to implement the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and the Caribbean-EU Joint Strategy — neither of which makes specific provisions for financial support — the EDF, as the core source for financing development cooperation within the framework of CARIFORUM-EU relations, now faces the prospect of being scaled back.” Mr Ogando cautioned that the mechanics of the application of differentiation remain internal to the European Commission.

Mr. Ogando was invited by the JPA organizers to participate in the 9th Regional Meeting and deliver an address on the CARIFORUM-EU EPA. His speech will delve into various facets of the implementation of the EPA, with a particular focus on issues of note that the CARIFORUM and EU sides have engaged on through the Joint Institutions that oversee the implementation process. In taking stock of the Agreement’s implementation and elaborating on the future of CARIFORUM-EU relations, Mr. Ogando indicated that he will call attention to the negative effects of the EU’s New Development Policy, about which Caribbean leaders have already raised serious concerns.

Most recently, Caribbean Heads of Government voiced their concerns with respect to the new EU Development Policy, in discussions with President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy and President of the European Commission José Manuel Durão Barroso, on the occasion of a CARIFORUM-EU High-Level Meeting held in the margins of the first Community of Latin American and the Caribbean States (CELAC)-EU Summit in Chile last month.

At another recent high profile event — the Seventh Summit of ACP Heads of State and Government in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea in December 2012 - the Prime Minister of Saint Lucia and the then Chairman of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM, Dr. the Hon. Kenny D. Anthony described as “disquieting” the issues of differentiation and graduation, which he said “target the economic vitality and the future development of some vulnerable [ACP] Member States.”

The Secretary-General of CARIFORUM, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, also expressed concern over the possibility of a decrease in development assistance from the EU under the new EU Development Policy. In an address to the Twentieth Meeting of the CARIFORUM Council of Ministers in Santo Domingo in November 2012, he underscored that the new policy threatened to cast a shadow over CARIFORUM-EU relations.

According to organizers of the upcoming JPA, the Meeting will be jointly chaired by the two Co-Presidents of the ACP-EU JPA, Musikari Kombo and Louis Michel. It is expected to bring together 15 JPA parliamentarians from national parliaments of the Caribbean Region and an equal number of JPA Members from the European Parliament to exchange views on a number of issues of interest to the Caribbean.

The fifteen signatory Caribbean Forum of African, Caribbean and Pacific (CARIFORUM) States to the EPA are the independent CARICOM Member States and the Dominican Republic.

CONTACT:

Nand C. Bardouille Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) Implementation Unit This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Passing of Ambassador Henry S. Gill

It is with deep regret that we announce the demise of Ambassador Henry S. Gill, the former Director General of the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery (CRNM). In his capacity he played a pivotal role in negotiating with the European Union for the Economic Partnership Agreement which created a free trade area for African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States. Gill has left behind a rich heritage to the region in his leadership skills, technical acumen and diplomacy skills for the next generation. To the family and loved ones of Henry S. Gill, the Secretariat of the Caribbean Association of Industry and Commerce wishes to express its deepest condolences on this occasion. May his soul rest in peace.

Business leaders deliver private sector trade priorities to WTO

Business leaders presented to World Trade Organization (WTO) permanent ambassadors and representatives, at WTO headquarters in Geneva today, their initial recommendations for driving international trade negotiations out of an 11-year deadlock and boosting the global economy. Executives from the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry updated WTO representatives on progress from the ICC World Trade Agenda. This initiative was established in 2011 with the aim of defining a practical and forward-looking trade policy agenda that will contribute to economic growth and job creation, moving WTO trade talks “Beyond Doha”. Read entire post at the International Chamber of Commerce and World Business Organisation website

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