It’s more than just medals Jamaica is going after at the Olympic Games in Rio. So even with a Jamaican being the world’s fastest man aiming to create history for perhaps the final time, it won’t be all fun and games for a special tourism team in Brazil’s capital.
Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett says marketing destination Jamaica will be their number one priority at Jamaica House, a facility established by the Jamaica Tourist Board to market the island during the summer games.
In an interview with the Jamaica Information Service, he said several meetings with tour operators and airline partners are on the agenda.
“We are also meeting with the Minister [of Tourism] and the head of the tourism authorities in Brazil. The whole intention is to build a relationship and to establish the kind of links that will enable connectivity from that area into Jamaica,” Bartlett explained.
But he acknowledged that the performance of Jamaican athletes, including track star Usain Bolt, will also help in the marketing effort. He said they are expected to do well and the country’s image as a destination should be boosted as a result of that.
“The power of the performance of our athletes will be a strong pull to bring people to Jamaica House and once we have them there in a captive audience, we can work with them,” he said.
Jamaica House is a concept that was first developed around the London 2012 Olympic Games. It will provide visitors with the opportunity to experience Jamaican culture in an interactive way. Daily operations include a host of activities: destination presentations to the travel trade, culinary exposés, consumer promotions, VIP client hosting, and live viewing of the races.
About US$767,000 is being spent on the initiative, with most of the money coming through sponsorship.
With the US Presidential Election on the horizon, the CAIC has turned its sights this week to US relations. Consultant Rodger Varley shares his thoughts on globalisation and the USA.
As is often the case, many of our financial gurus/economic pundits, reflect the ‘establishment elites’ status quo view of the Western World that the USA must forever be satisfied with years of ‘marginal GDP Growth’ (avg. 1.4% since 2009 –v- 3.4% 1950-2008), and workforce participation (rate down to 62.6% in May 2016 from 66% in 2008), while curiously admiring the Far East and in particular, China’s consistent GDP growth at 7% + as though it is some God Given ‘order’ of world affairs -- it isn’t!
While such a view, may indeed have satisfied a few of such ‘elites’, it appears to not have satisfied the mass of working peoples prospects in USA, who progressively have become relatively ‘poor’ compared with their historical position, with real incomes ‘flat lined’ for the past 18 years, while the middle classes continue to shrink at an alarming rate.
Ironically, it is the ‘purchasing power’ of the US ‘consumer’, the majority of which is indeed the very same working people whose wage prospects have been ‘flat lined’ for decades and whose jobs have disappeared, that have funded this global phenomenon described by the financial elites, as being ‘good for them’!
How has this state of affairs arisen? The financial gurus, will tell us no doubt, it’s the ‘productivity’ of say Chinese workers vs US workers, who ‘folk law’ has it either work harder, or more plausibly, work for less money. This assumption however, fails to recognise the reality that the direct wage component of manufacturing has diminished over time and that it is largely driven by investment in advanced technology/equipment which drives labour costs down, facilitated in large part via the ‘economies of scale’ i.e. Western purchasing power ‘given away’ through either ignorance, neglect, or a combination of both.
Nor do these same ‘globalists’ recognise that WTO rules and regulations, have consistently been abused /not followed by China and others, who have consistently manipulated their currency/devalued, to the extent for example that it is estimated 4.0% of USA GDP has been ‘given away by not implementing already existing WTO rules. By the USA simply invoking existing WTO rules, this position can/should be reversed.
How does all this affect Caribbean economies? - Well the first thing to recognise is that an ‘impoverished’ America does nothing to help the Caribbean; in fact, the corollary is obviously true.
If the American economy can be restored to the level of growth it historically enjoyed i.e. in excess of 3.4% i.e. pre-2008 level regularly, then the opportunities for CARICOM products/exports to share in that restored prosperity will be or should be ’doubled’ from present levels.
The Caribbean therefore has more of a vested interest in the outcome of the US Election than they might think. The most important benefit of a change in US government, would be a President who actually understands these things, and is prepared to actually correct the unfair and restrictive trade practices that others have for decades taken full advantage of, and provide the Caribbean with a rich source of ‘pickings’ in the process.
Recovery of growth in Latin America and the Caribbean depends on invigorating public and private investment, according to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).
The UN organization gave that assessment today as it presented its Economic Survey of Latin America and the Caribbean 2016, in which it forecasts that the region will contract -0.8 per cent this year. This marks a steeper decline than in 2015 (-0.5 per cent).
It stressed the urgent need to mobilize investment—both public and private—to promote the region’s economic recovery and meet the challenges imposed by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
“The capacity of countries to accelerate economic growth depends on the spaces for adopting policies that support investment. These policies should be accompanied by efforts to change the conversation between the public sector and private companies. Increasing productivity is also a key challenge for moving forward along a path of dynamic and stable growth,” Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), said during the press conference in Santiago, Chile where the report was presented.
The survey indicates that in the external arena, the global economy will maintain low levels of growth, which will be accompanied by a slow expansion in trade, which has not managed to recover the levels seen before the international financial crisis.
On top of that, the report points to deteriorated prices for the region’s commodities exports and greater international financial uncertainty and volatility, which have increased since the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union (Brexit). This decision has also produced greater risks to the world’s future growth.
In the regional sphere, the report forecasts a -2.1 per cent contraction for South America in 2016, mainly due to a deterioration in its terms of trade, weaker external demand and a significant deceleration in domestic demand, which reflects a sizeable fall in domestic investment.
Declines All Around
The Caribbean will suffer a -0.3 per cent contraction in its Gross Domestic Product (GDP), ECLAC said.
According to the report, six countries are expected to show an economic contraction in 2016: Venezuela (-8.0 per cent), Suriname (-4.0 per cent), Brazil (-3.5 per cent), Trinidad and Tobago (-2.5 per cent), Ecuador (-2.5 per cent) and Argentina (-1.5 per cent).
On the other hand, regional growth will be led by the Dominican Republic (6.0 per cent), Panama (5.9 per cent), Nicaragua and Bolivia (4.5 per cent), and Costa Rica (4.3 per cent).
“Faced with an economic contraction, the region needs progressive structural change with a big environmental push that promotes development based on equality and sustainability, as we have proposed in our institutional document Horizons 2030: Equality at the Centre of Sustainable Development, which we presented in Mexico last May,” Bárcena said.
In its Economic Survey 2016 ECLAC calls for resuming the path of growth and mobilizing financial flows for development financing.
To achieve that, it said, countries must change their fiscal structures to improve tax collection and progressivity, strengthen income taxes (both for individuals and companies), and fight tax evasion and avoidance, which reached the equivalent of 6.7 points of the regional GDP in 2015 at an estimated US$340 billion.
It added that it is necessary to promote renewed public-private coalitions and policies that create appropriate incentives to channel financing towards development goals.
As I write this, we are probably just now beginning to absorb the reality that Britain has voted to leave the European Union. Along with this realization come a number of questions.
There are no answers in this piece – only questions. Here are two issues uppermost in my mind:
Brexit Impact on Trade Relations with the US
For the past 40 years, transatlantic trade relations have been viewed and developed through the prism of two powerful trading blocs on either side of the ocean. US-EU trade has occupied about 30% of global trade.
What place has US-UK (British) trade occupied? In 2016, Germany was the top US trade partner in Europe (4.6% of overall US trade). Britain was second among EU countries (2.1%). Also in the top 15 US trade partners were France, Italy, the Netherlands, and Belgium. How will these figures affect US calculations going forward?
The United States and the European Union are currently negotiating the TransAtlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (T-TIP) Agreement. T-TIP negotiations are aimed at further cementing US-EU trade ties. Already low tariffs will be eliminated. Divergent rules and standards on the two sides of the ocean will be harmonized and standardized.
Will Britain choose to participate in the ongoing T-TIP negotiations?
If so, on what terms will Britain want to participate?
Will Britain be allowed to set the terms for its participation?
How will the EU and the US react?
Will the US be willing to negotiate separately with Britain?
Will T-TIP negotiations have to be suspended while they figure this out?
Brexit Impact on Trade Relations with Britain’s Former Colonies
Britain’s trade relations with its former colonies have also been shaped through the prism of its membership in the EU. Supporters of the “leave” Brexit vote may be waxing nostalgic for the days when the “sun never set on the British Empire”. (The Spanish Empire first held this title until most of its colonies in the Americas fought for and won their independence in the early 19th century.)
By the early 20th century, the British Empire comprised one-fifth of the world’s population and a quarter of the Earth’s total land area. Belgium, France, Germany, and the Netherlands were the other major European colonial powers.
After attaining political independence over the course of the 1960s and 1970s, the former colonies established the African Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP). The Cotonou Agreements, otherwise known as the “ACP-EC Partnership Agreement” set the framework for trade relations between the EU and the 79 ACP members. And the ACP-EU framework is the prism through which Britain has shaped its trade relations with its former colonies in Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific.
Currently, these relations have focused around negotiation and implementation of Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with seven (7) regions. EPAs are replacing the unilateral access for a limited range of goods by ACP countries to EU markets with reciprocal access in goods and services. EPAs also include provisions for development cooperation and assistance to help countries make these transitions.
The seven (7) regions negotiating EPAs with the EU are:
West Africa (16 countries)
Central Africa (8 countries)
Eastern & Southern Africa
East African Community – EAC (5 countries)
South African Development Community – SADC (6 countries, including South Africa)
The Caribbean (14 countries)
The Pacific Islands (14 countries)
The EAC, SADC, and the Caribbean have concluded EPA negotiations. The other regions have ongoing negotiations. Furthermore, the EPA provisions on development cooperation and assistance require ongoing engagement and discussion by the parties.
For a number of ACP countries their former metropolis remains a major export market. The size of the former British Empire makes Britain a key market for many ACP countries.
Will Britain decide it wants to renegotiate the terms of the EPAs already concluded?
Will Britain continue to participate in the ongoing negotiations with the other regions?
Will Britain want to change the terms of its participation in the program for development assistance and cooperation?
What will the EU position be toward any attempts by Britain to change EPA terms?
How will ACP countries respond?
What is the future of the EPA negotiations and implementation process?
As we promised, just questions – it’s too early for answers. But these are just a few of the ones that will need to be addressed over the next months and years as Britain absorbs the impact of its Brexit vote.
CASTRIES, St Lucia -- Across the Caribbean, policymakers rely heavily on the availability of timely, accurate and reliable poverty data to support national and regional development initiatives.
Despite making considerable progress on how they measure poverty, many countries in the region do not frequently update or report on key poverty indicators, and are not able to assess the non-income dimensions of poverty and human development.
On Tuesday, in Saint Lucia, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) launched a programme designed to address these challenges, and improve the way its 19 borrowing member countries (BMCs) assess poverty and gain access to data from these assessments.
“The enhanced country poverty assessment programme launched today responds to the pressing need for high-quality data on poverty. Understanding the causes of poverty, who it affects and how it affects them is at the core of making informed, evidence-based policy decisions and helping Caribbean countries make meaningful, measurable progress in reducing and ending poverty,” said Deidre Clarendon, division chief, social sector division, CDB.
CDB is supporting the programme through a total investment of US$4.1 million. It will be conducted over a five-year period.
The programme will enhance the capacity of CDB’s BMCs to conduct multidimensional poverty assessments. Multidimensional poverty measurement considers how poor people experience poverty that goes beyond income considerations, and takes into account other deprivations -- of education, health, housing, empowerment, personal security, and more. Through the programme, some countries will either adopt multidimensional poverty measurement as stand-alone studies or integrate it into existing national surveys.
Specifically, the Bank’s BMCs in the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) will receive support for the implementation of a sustainable household data programme (SDP), which the OECS Commission will oversee. This SDP will deliver harmonised poverty data for OECS countries, and help them conduct regular and timely monetary and multidimensional poverty assessments.
An OECS geographic information system platform will also be developed through the programme. It will enable countries to better analyse, map, monitor and report on different dimensions of social and economic well-being.
CDB will provide programme management support for all BMCs, including training for stakeholders delivered in collaboration with the OECS Commission, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Children’s Fund, International Labour Organisation and World Bank. The requisite data entry and processing equipment will be provided.
The new enhanced country poverty assessment programme will support: Anguilla; Antigua and Barbuda; The Bahamas; Barbados; Belize; British Virgin Islands; Cayman Islands; Dominica; Grenada; Guyana; Haiti; Jamaica; Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia; Suriname; St Vincent and the Grenadines; Trinidad and Tobago; and Turks and Caicos Islands.
Des Plaines, IL USA (July 26, 2016) - The Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA) is pleased to present the Eighth Caribbean GIS Conference in Barbados this September 4-8, 2016. The conference is organized by a committee of Caribbean GIS experts, who dedicate considerable time and energy to developing an important educational program. The conference features more than 60 speakers, an exhibition and a number of valuable professional development and networking opportunities. We are particularly pleased to host the UN-GGIM International Forum on Geospatial Information and Services for Disasters during the conference this year.
An abundance of education will be featured during the conference, including a one-day (Tuesday) focused program track, developed in partnership with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) that will explore best practices for utilizing GIS and other tools to prepare, respond, and manage disasters:
Improving Caribbean Disaster Preparedness and Response through Geospatial Services : Bringing disaster management specialists and geospatial professionals together under one roof, this is a fantastic opportunity to match mapping and analysis practice against the challenges faced to be more resilient before and after disasters. Through presentations, discussions and hands on experience, this offers practical IM solutions in a one day focused program track and complements strategic issues discussed at the UNGGIM special meeting, all to help the region to use GIS effectively to be better prepared against natural disasters.
A program outline follows, but take time to review the entire conference program, including speaker profiles and session details, online: https://caribbeangis2016.sched.org
Optional pre-conference courses and meetings begin on Sunday, September 4 and Monday, September 5.
From Sensor to Internet: Processing, Analysis, Compression and Distribution in the Geospatial Information Life Cycle - Sponsored by Hexagon Geospatial
Modernizing Land Administration Systems - Sponsored by Esri
Mobile, Web and Server GIS: Field to Finish (Two-day workshop) - Sponsored by Spatial Innovision
Introduction to Smart M.App - Sponsored by Hexagon Geospatial
Half-Day Workshop: Intro to Python
Half-Day Workshop: Mastering the Spatial Analyst Extension
Cartography and Geo-Visualization
Mobile, Web and Server GIS: Field to Finish (Day 2 of 2)
The conference is excited to host the URISA Caribbean GIS Mapathon. This activity will support Missing Maps and the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) in mapping vulnerable areas of the Caribbean.
Tuesday's agenda features a keynote address delivered by Chris Sheldrick, Co-Founder and CEO of What3Words. His talk "The World Addressed with 3 Words," will discuss how poor addressing around the world hampers the growth and development of entire nations. In addition to the Disaster Preparedness and Response all-day track, the conference will showcase these sessions:
UAV: It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane…
Marine Mapping and Navigation Technologies
Participatory GIS for Better Decision-Making and Communication
It All Starts with the Data
Trending GIS in 3Ds – Data Capture, Data Storage and Data Visualization
Using GIS to More Effectively Manage Today’s Utility Companies
Geospatial Technologies – Protecting Our Heritage, Shaping Our World
Why is Engaging the Public So Important?
Young Professionals: How to Move Forward in a GIS Career (Special note: YPs in the Caribbean are making a distinct impact on the profession. We are pleased to support their discussions in Barbados!)
Wednesday begins with a keynote address from Tyler Radford, Executive Director of Humanitarian OpenStreetMap, on the topic of Crowdsourced Mapping for Disaster Response. Then, take advantage of breakout sessions including:
Current Trends in GIS and GIS for Land Administration
Implementation of Enterprise GIS for National Security from Start to Finish
Utilizing Geospatial Strategies to Benefit Coastal Resources Management in the Caribbean
Enhancing Social and Economic Development Strategies with GIS Technology
Geospatial Mapping Tools for Habitat Mapping, Analysis and Decision Support
Mapping the Future with a Look from the Past
The day will end with an engaging panel to discuss some of the challenges and opportunities that Funding Agencies face working with local governments and consultants throughout the Caribbean before the always memorable Evening Social Event.
The conference continues on Thursday morning with the Caribbean GIS High Level Forum and more breakout sessions:
Addressing the Social Needs: GIS—A Powerful Enabler
Applications of Geospatial Technologies in Disaster Management
URISA's 2016 Caribbean GIS Conference will close with a discussion to address strengthening regional collaboration and the always-energetic URISA Caribbean Ignite!
Exhibitors and sponsors are an important part of the conference with enthusiastic conversations about technology solutions. In particular, we appreciate the generous sponsorship of Esri, Spatial Innovision, GeoOrbis, Hexagon Geospatial and GeoTechVision.
The conference is taking place at the Hilton Barbados and discounted sleeping rooms are available until August 15 or until the block sells out, whichever occurs first. Register for the conference and make your travel plans right away!
Finance ministers from the Eastern Caribbean have undertaken a commitment to tackling the “existential threat” of de-risking. The disclosure came on the heels of the just-concluded Eastern Caribbean Central Bank’s Monetary Council meeting here on Friday.
The finance ministers expressed concern about the negative impact that de-risking would have on their respective economies.
De-risking refers to the process of financial institutions closing accounts of clients that are believed to be high risk for money laundering or terrorist financing. A June 2016 International Monetary Fund publication—“The Withdrawal of Correspondent Banking Relationships: A Case for Policy Action”—said at least 16 banks in the region across five countries have lost all or some of their correspondent banking relationships (CBRs) as of May 2016.
According to the IMF, several institutions in Barbados, The Bahamas, the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago have had corresponding banking relationships terminated. The document notes that many of these jurisdictions have reportedly been able to find replacement CBRs or have been able to rely on their remaining ones.
“The full extent of the impact has yet to be quantified, but the unmeasured effect has been a loss in business confidence and in the ease of some basic transactions. The main CBR providers in the Caribbean are located in the United States, Canada, and to a lesser extent Europe and the Caribbean,” the document stated.
Antigua & Barbuda’s Prime Minister Gaston Browne, who assumed chairmanship of the Council, spoke extensively on the subject during the one-day meeting. He said while several regional banks would have been de-linked from the international payment system, he is not aware that any country has been totally de-linked.
“We’re saying that we cannot sit on our laurels and allow it go get that far,” Browne said. “It is a serious threat to the region and we have to fight it and to make sure that there is no further such de-risking.”
The Antiguan leader told reporters that the ECCB Governor, Timothy Antoine, has written several of the corresponding banks requesting a hold on any further de-risking as the Monetary Council seeks to convene a stakeholder conference later this year. After calling it a “worrying development” during the opening ceremony, he later told reporters that even though member states have not yet seen serious effects of de-risking, the governments are keen on implementing preventative measures to eliminate this “existential threat.”
“It is really an existential threat, but if it continues unabated, then the implications are very clear,” Browne said, adding that there could be implications for remittances and other areas. He noted that there are other serious human consequences including difficulties paying for education, medicines and healthcare in general and even in terms of importing food.
“In Antigua and Barbuda’s case, 90 per cent of what we consume is actually imported and 80 per cent of that comes from the United States. So if we’re unable to settle our bills in US currency, then it has implications even for imports. Again, what we’re doing, we’re fighting the issue before it gets to that stage,” he said at a press conference.
According to a communiqué issued upon the conclusion of the sub-regional meeting, the Council was updated on recent of de-risking by global banks and noted that correspondent banking relationships are critical for enabling key financial and economic transactions like remittances, foreign direct investments and international trade in goods and services. According to the document, such services contribute significantly to the region’s growth and development.
“Council therefore agreed that urgent and ongoing discussions on correspondent banking relations geared towards promoting financial inclusion, trade facilitation in the global market and monetary policy in general is required,” Browne said as he read from the communiqué.
He told reporters the finance ministers approved the ECCB’s assumption of full responsibility for anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regulation of all institutions under the Banking Act.
They also agreed, where applicable, to recommend to governments within the jurisdiction that necessary regulations be issued to confer authority on the ECCB for AML/CFT regulation. Earlier, during the opening ceremony, outgoing Chairman, Anguillian Chief Minister Victor Banks said —the Council, being aware of de-risking’s potentially negative impact, agreed to a joint approach in addressing the matter.
Such an approach would include advocacy through political and diplomatic channels, use of SWIFT registry by indigenous banks, consolidation of the banking sector and, possibly, the establishment of a Caribbean Bank in United States.
The next article in our series on Brexit is by Andrea M. Ewart, Esq. of DevelopTradeLaw, LLC, out of Washington, D.C. The article captures Ms. Ewart's concerns for the Caribbean region regarding the impact of Brexit on the EPA.
Even as Britons woke up to the reality of their vote, the rest of the world also needed to come to terms with the possible impact of Brexit. This is no less true for the Caribbean.
Should the UK act on the vote and formally request to leave the EU, this begins a two-year negotiating process of the terms of a new EU-UK relationship. Britain’s trade relations with the Caribbean region have been shaped through the lens of its EU membership. Regional leaders need to begin to anticipate the possible impact of Brexit on UK-Caribbean trade relations.
Currently, these relations are formed by the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). The parties are, on the one hand, CARICOM and the Dominican Republic (CARIFORUM), and on the other, the 27 EU partners (including the UK).
It is true that each country has expressly committed to provide a specific level of access to the region’s goods and services. So, the rate at which a bottle of rum from Barbados, for example, will enter Britain could remain unchanged.
However, the EPA also contains EU-wide provisions for development cooperation and assistance to the region. EU-wide institutions have been created jointly with CARIFORUM to support EPA implementation and delivery of EU assistance.
Here are some questions the region will need to begin to consider and seek answers to: • Will Britain decide it wants to renegotiate the terms of the EPA? • Will Britain want to change the terms of its participation in the program for development assistance and cooperation? • What will the EU position be toward any attempts by Britain to change EPA terms? • What does the region want and how will it position itself to achieve those goals?
In addition, Britain remains a key market for many of the region’s products and services. The decline in the pound has made these more expensive. One impact we can anticipate is a decrease in exports to Britain.
Observers expect Britain to become very inward-looking in the next couple of years as it shapes its post-EU future. This makes it more imperative for the region to loudly advocate for a united position aimed at minimizing the potential negative impacts of Brexit.
WASHINGTON, USA (ACN) -- The US House of Representatives was the scene of a new maneuver by the anti-Cuban lobby that managed to include sanctions against the Caribbean nation in the 2017 House Financial Services and General Government Bill.
Some representatives openly opposed to the rapprochement between Havana and Washington continued their anti-Cuba campaign after managing to obtain the removal last week of amendments that would allow US citizens to travel freely to Cuba and make agricultural trade viable without current conditions of payment in cash and in advance.
In the text that appeared in the House of Representatives, far from eliminating the economic, commercial and financial sanctions against Cuba, the position towards Cuba on issues such as the ban on travel to Cuba for certain educational exchanges in the called people-to-people exchanges is intensified.
Among the amendments adopted as part of the 2017 House Financial Services and General Government Bill is the banning of imports related to nationalizations made by the Cuban government.
The ban on financial transactions involving Cuban military, as well as funds to approve the licensing of trademarks, trade names or names that have been confiscated by the Cuban government without the express consent of the United States, are also among the purposes of anti-Cuban lobby in Washington.
Despite the inclusion of these amendments against Cuba, the result of pressure from Congresspersons Mario Diaz-Balart, a member of the Appropriations Committee; Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Carlos Curbelo, there is still a long way for the sanctions to become law.
As part of a debate on its own bill of financial services, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved an amendment presented by Democrat senators Patrick Leahy and Jerry Moran that seeks to allow US farmers to increase private funding for the export of agricultural products to Cuba.
Another one, presented by the senators and approved by voice vote, proposes to lift the ban on travel to the island.
In reviewing the texts that are formulated in the House of Representatives and the Senate on the 2017 House Financial Services and General Government Bill, differences in the content is acknowledged, so they should be submitted to the Congressional Conference Committee, where Democrats and Republicans will reconcile a final text that then must be voted in both chambers.
The fact that the Senate text has amendments that allow travel by US citizens to Cuba and restrictions are lifted in exports of agricultural products to Cuba, while the House measures intensify the embargo in those areas, will no doubt be used by both parties as reasons for a political fight over the budget legislation.
Diaz-Balart told US media that "there is bipartisan support in the House to strengthen the sanctions and reject the pacifying policy" as evidenced by the adoption of the legislative proposal that "contains multiple clauses to strengthen sanctions."
However, the congressional newspaper The Hill predicted that President Barack Obama would veto the law – if approved with its current text by Congress – not because of travel to Cuba but because several pieces of the bill put a check to important government initiatives.
Cuba is the only country in the world to which US citizens are prohibited to travel as tourists, so only a limited number of them are authorized to travel to the island, under certain licenses.
Cuban authorities have said that the normalization of relations between the two countries will go through the lifting of the economic, commercial and financial embargo against Cuba, which now the House of Representatives intends to intensify, and the return of the territory occupied by the US in Guantanamo, among other topics.
Preamble: Most of us have been bombarded with discussions and perspectives on Brexit since the period leading up to the referendum, and of course the post-Brexit decision to leave the European Union. The CAIC Secretariat team is beginning this dialogue to look at the opportunities created by this impending move and offers the following as a baseline discussion platform; which we will be building on over the next few weeks, then facilitating action over the ensuing period…….This is also timely as the CAIC also sits on the Consultative Committee of the Cariforum-European Union Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and as Vice Chair of the Cariforum side, we want to build on the synergies you can create as we look at the markets in the Eastern Hemisphere….
On Thursday June 23rd, 2016 the British public voted against remaining in the European Union (EU) by a slim margin of 3.8 per cent. The following day, the pound sterling lost 10 per cent of its value, falling to its lowest since 1985. The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, who offered the referendum to the public during his 2013 electoral campaign, and who was on the side of “Bremain” announced his intention to resign following the outcome of the vote. Britain, now captained by Theresa May, who remained neutral throughout the referendum, has made it clear that the UK will exit the EU.
While the EU parliament awaits the invoking of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to begin the negotiations of Britain’s exit, and which may take up to two years, the rest of the world is left to make assumptions on the impact that Brexit will have. Given the Caribbean’s history and the preferential access to the EU, this position paper begins with a dialogue on the challenges and opportunities Brexit may have on trade, development and immigration for the Caribbean entrepreneur.
The Caribbean context
The Caribbean has a strong relationship with the EU as evidenced by the CARIFORUM-EU EPA, although there are many challenges on both sides with its implementation. The EPA, which is the only fully comprehensive EPA negotiated to date, was signed in October 2008. It is a trade and development accord between the CARIFORUM States, and the EU and its member states with the reciprocal grant of preferences by both sides.
The Caribbean, has a tumultuous history with Britain, beginning with its colonialization in the 18th Century. While there were Spanish, French, and Dutch influences, the Caribbean has had closer ties with the UK, trading in goods (and services) which later became subsumed when Britain joined the EU in 1973. The CARIFORUM-EU EPA, opened up new trading opportunities for CARICOM states and the Dominican Republic, apart from those that existed with the UK.
The Commonwealth, which is comprised of 53 member states, chiefly former territories of the British Empire, has as one of its objectives; free trade amongst its members. Prior to joining the EU, a Commonwealth multilateral trade agreement was being proposed but due to the weakened state of Britain following World War II, it was abandoned.
For the Caribbean, the export of goods to the UK has always been easier given the historical exports of sugar, rum, and bananas. Over the years, goods have declined as cheaper alternatives were found, particularly for sugar and bananas, with the Caribbean losing ground for its chief exports. Trade in Services on the other hand have had a much rougher landing in the UK, particularly in part due to the immigration restrictions, the lack of mutual recognition agreements and an all too new trading structure that has not stood the test of time.
The main exports from the Caribbean to the EU are in fuel and mining products, bananas, sugar and rum, minerals and fertilisers. In the last three years, exports to the EU have declined marginally while the imports from the EU have increased. While the EU may be one of the largest markets in the world, it is also a declining trade bloc. The Caribbean, though smaller in size, due to its economic, societal and environmental challenges is at the mercy of imports from foreign markets.
The decline in exports from the Caribbean show that commodities are declining while service exports are increasing. Despite this upward trend, movement of services from the Caribbean to the EU encounters challenges to enter the market. We can assume that Brexit will not change what currently exists for entry of services into the UK market given the tight restrictions of the UK Border Control and requirements for a work visa, and the growing anti-immigrant sentiment settling in.
Nevertheless, the Caribbean should not have difficulty with trade in goods as the Caribbean community comprises of five per cent of the UK population, hailing primarily from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Barbados. Goods from the Caribbean would be in demand to at least satisfy this UK minority.
There is a major effect to be felt from foreign exchange derived through tourism. The traditional UVP of the Caribbean is sun, sand, sea, we have moved beyond this to create experiences in our tourism offering as the Mediterranean and outlying regions compete with the Caribbean for majestic beaches, and sunshine.
However, we can posit that, as a bloc, exports to the rest of the EU would decline on the basis of the UK being removed as the chief importer in the EU. This in turn creates an opportunity for the Caribbean to re-engage and renegotiate the UK to increase Caribbean imports to satisfy their market, whilst capitalising on the EU minus Britain market.
The EPA has a development component that would see aid come from the EU to improve the developing countries of CARIFORUM. Again this has been in part due to the UK and their contribution to the EU. Despite the fears surrounding a reduction of aid for development, the Commonwealth objectives once more come to the forefront as it relates to the UK, which is aimed at improving the conditions of the member states of the Commonwealth. While the EPA has a part to play, the collective of the United Nations should not be discounted as a generous portion is doled out to the region in achieving sustainable development, of which countries like Jamaica, Barbados and Guyana have accessed.
While the British brand has taken a knock from Brexit, seeing its currency reach a 31-year low, and their judgement questioned, it is still one of the more developed nations, having been the centre of a vast empire some 200 years ago. Following Brexit, Britain will have to renew confidence in its brand and as for aid in development, it is difficult to determine whether the aid outlined in the EPA will come to pass especially since the agreement was signed in 2008 and eight years later there has not been much progress made, except for signing of multimillion Euro projects that have yet to be implemented.
Whilst waiting for aid to come from the EU and to see what aid can be negotiated from the UK, the Caribbean entrepreneur is meant to utilise the implemented agreements to expand his global brand. Agencies have been created to filter down the funds received from the EU to enhance MSMEs who are at a greater disadvantage. While there are success stories, they are few and far between. If this is the aid we are expecting to develop our businesses and enter new markets, it is best we forge ahead with the aid of our government agencies and private sector organisations.
The relationship with the EU and UK is one where the Caribbean is the beneficiary. The British passport is considered to be one of the more powerful passports in the world, giving the traveller visa-free access to 157 borders. On the other side, travel from the Caribbean into Europe has its restrictions. In 2015 there was a waiver of visa for short-term travel in the Schengen area. Some Caribbean nations require visas to travel to UK, while others have agreements for visa-free travel such as Guyana and Russia.
It is expected that Brexit will not hinder travel to the Schengen area since the UK is not one of the 26 countries in the Schengen area. The stance of pro-Brexit supporters to immigrants, was that Britain should have better control over who they allow into the country. While this was related mostly to the movement of persons between the UK and mainland Europe, approximately 50.5 per cent of immigrants are from outside of the EU. One of the pillars of the EU is the free movement of labour, which is also a fundamental of CARICOM except that it was indeed free movement in the case of the EU. CARICOM on the other hand has many immigration challenges to contend with before free movement of labour can be realised.
As far as immigration between the Caribbean and the UK are concerned, for personal travel the situation will not be greatly affected as strict conditions exist in the points-based system for obtaining a British visa. The Caribbean entrepreneur will also be subjected to utilise the points-based system to access the market for business whether it be trade in goods or services. With a move to more service-oriented businesses attempting to access the European market, conditions will remain the same as the Caribbean region has not been invited to engage in free movement of labour, although the EU did cater in the EPA for movement of natural persons.
While Britain is expected to look to other powers such as the US and Canada, with the Caribbean lower on their agenda whilst establishing relations with the other 27 member states of the EU, Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty allows Britain two years in which to hammer out the terms of their departure. This means that the forecasted period in which Britain would pay attention to the Caribbean, is actually shorter. While Britain would now be free to, and would need to establish trade agreements with the rest of the world, the Caribbean perceived value may feature higher than predicted on Britain’s agenda.
The facts already exist, we cannot do much with them; analysis, opinions and predictions will continue to be manufactured but it is time to move beyond that and stop waiting to see what will become fact. Whether Britain does manage to untangle itself and get out of the EU with more than just pride inside is not something we should concern ourselves in the Caribbean with, since history had already cast its future as we quote Winston Churchill "If Britain must choose between Europe and the open sea, she must always choose the open sea”
The business environment is not the same as the political will, in a recent statement Alphabet Executive Chairman said that it does not mean a change (in job placements at least) for Google in Continental Europe. However, business is as well about predictions on the future, how customers will behave and what are the emerging opportunities for entrepreneurs.