Barbados back in business after storm floods, causes damage

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Thursday September 29, 2016 – The all-clear has been given for business to resume as normal in Barbados following the passage of Tropical Storm Matthew which caused flooding and damage in some parts of the island.

While businesses and government departments were given the go-ahead at 5:45 this morning to reopen, and transportation services began rolling out a few hours after the announcement, Deputy Director of the Department of Emergency Management (DEM) Captain Robert Harewood said schools would remain closed.

The system began affecting the island as a tropical wave throughout the course of Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning, with some widely scattered light to moderate showers and occasional gusty winds.

Conditions deteriorated later in the morning, with some pockets of moderate to heavy showers, periods of rain, thunderstorms and gusty winds.

But most of the damage came in the afternoon, after Tropical Storm Matthew developed. The downpours caused flooding in some areas.

Tropical Storm Matthew’s strong winds blew off roofs and downed power lines and trees – some of which fell on nearby vehicles.

There were also power outages in some districts and water was shut off in some areas.

The inclement weather continued into the evening, but conditions improved into the night, and at 10 p.m. the tropical storm warning was discontinued.

However, the DEM said at that time it would wait until daylight hours to give the all-clear.

Courtesy: Caribbean 360


CARICOM not a failure, says former Jamaica Prime Minister

By Latonya Linton

KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) -- Chairman of Jamaica’s Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Review Commission and former prime minister, Bruce Golding, says CARICOM is not a failure, having achieved successes in several areas.

“I think we have done very well in terms of functional cooperation. If every country in CARICOM had to set up their own examination system, instead of having the Caribbean Examinations Council, it would be difficult for much of the smaller islands that have fewer resources than we do,” Golding said.

He was speaking at a youth forum hosted by the CARICOM Review Commission at the University of the West Indies Regional Headquarters, on Thursday, September 22.

The CARICOM Review Commission is the brainchild of Prime Minister Andrew Holness. It has been tasked to examine Jamaica’s role in the regional bloc and how it has impacted the country’s development.

Golding also cited institutions such as the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) as successful areas of cooperation.

“We are all subject to natural disasters, and the response to natural disasters when they occur requires institutional building, capabilities, and it requires management. If every country had to set up (one) for itself, then you see the difficulties that many countries would have,” Golding said.

The former prime minister also argued that CARICOM is important for foreign policy coordination.

“There is strength in numbers. We have, in fact, been able to exert a significant amount of influence in some of the major councils of the world, simply because when we go there we have 14 votes,” the chairman said.

“I know of some occasions where there are some contentious issues in the Organization of American States and the United Nations, where balance is so close that 14 votes can make a difference, and that’s when the biggest of the big come knocking on our doors,” Golding added.

For his part, minister of state in the ministry of education, youth and information, Floyd Green, encouraged the youth to submit suggestions to the CARICOM Review Commission.

On the issue of integration, Green said this is being undermined “by the fact that it is so expensive for us to travel among our CARICOM states”.

He also mentioned that the University of the West Indies is becoming less integrated based on the make-up of the population on the campuses.

At the forum, the youth shared on issues such as regional integration and immigration.

CARICOM is a grouping of 20 countries: 15 member states and five associate members. It is home to approximately 16 million citizens, 60 percent of whom are under the age of 30, and from the main ethnic groups of indigenous peoples, Africans, Indians, Europeans, Chinese and Portuguese.

Topical issues such as trade practices, the treatment of Jamaicans travelling to other CARICOM countries, contrasts emerging between CARICOM’s strategies and goals and those of individual countries and how these can be reconciled are also to be explored by the Commission.

Courtesy: Caribbean News Now

CARIFORUM, EU to Scale Up Cooperation on Intellectual Property

(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) Senior officials from CARIFORUM and the European Union (EU) will meet on 26 September 2016 in Bridgetown, Barbados in an effort to take forward dialogue on potential cooperation opportunities in the Caribbean Region in the area of intellectual property (IP).

The one-day forum, entitled CARIFORUM-EU Workshop on Intellectual Property (IP) Tools, Networks and Cooperation Opportunities, is jointly organized by the CARIFORUM Directorate of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat and the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), in partnership with the Delegation of the European Union to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean States, OECS and CARICOM/CARIFORUM.

This Workshop is made possible with support from EUIPO and the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) Caribbean Regional Indicative Programme (CRIP). The EUIPO is responsible for managing the EU trade mark and the registered Community design. The Office also works with the IP offices of the EU Member States and international partners to offer a similar registration experience for trade marks and designs across Europe and the world.

The Director-General of the CARIFORUM Directorate, Mr. Percival Marie, stated "the expectation is that the Workshop will foster exchange of knowledge and experience." Mr. Marie applauded the joint initiative and expressed the hope that, in so far as the forum is designed to bring together a cross-section of stakeholders, it will ultimately contribute to enhanced cooperation.

This cooperation is especially pertinent in the context of the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), which was signed in 2008. The Agreement includes a chapter on Innovation and Intellectual Property. The objectives of the chapter in question are set out in Article 132. Broadly, the intent of this chapter is to foster the development of CARIFORUM innovation systems so as to enhance the competitiveness of CARIFORUM firms, and there is recognition that the protection and enforcement of IP contributes to fostering creativity, innovation and competitiveness. In this regard, the provisions of the chapter also delve into the legislative and administrative environments which are required in order to provide protection of IP. Of note are the references in the chapter to cooperation between the Parties, for instance, support to be extended to CARIFORUM so that States may develop and enforce the protection of IP.

In this context, the Workshop will gather representatives drawn from CARIFORUM States' IP Offices, the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission, the Caribbean Export Development Agency, the Caribbean Development Bank, EU Delegation offices and EU Member States' missions in the Region, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the Caribbean Unit of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Resource persons from the CARICOM Secretariat and the EUIPO will also be on hand.

In a planned panel discussion, representatives of CARIFORUM States' IP Offices will be afforded the opportunity to highlight their needs. Moreover, the EUIPO will call attention to its experience with respect to international cooperation, networks and tools, complemented by an overview thereafter—by the EU Delegation Office in Barbados—of EU priorities for the Caribbean Region.

A joint brainstorming session is slated to take emerging perspectives into consideration, with a view to identifying potential areas of cooperation in IP, such as Geographical Indications. In this connection, the expectation is that the Workshop will culminate in an examination of next steps to further strengthen cooperation.

For more information, please contact:
Nand C. Bardouille
Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) Implementation Unit
CARIFORUM Directorate
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

CDB warning to Barbados : Get debt act together

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Wednesday September 21, 2016 – President of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) Dr Warren Smith has sounded a stern warning that Barbados was not yet out of the proverbial economic woods by a long shot. In fact, so worried is he about the country’s worsening debt situation that he suggested “front end adjustments” were urgently needed to correct the economic slide.

In a frank interview with Barbados TODAY, Smith also described the island’s overall fiscal position as “unsustainable”, while cautioning that if left unchecked, it would do untold damage to the Barbados dollar.

With that said Smith did not shy away from the dreaded “p” word – privatization –, naming Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) and the Bridgetown Port as “naturals” for divestment.

“Long gone are the days when Governments need to be involved in things such as airports and seaports,” Smith argued.

“We do not believe that these types of investments need to continue to be in the hands of Government,” he added.

While acknowledging there would be political consequences arising out of the sale of these perceived crown jewels, he said Barbados was not unique in that regard.

In fact, the Jamaican-born CDB president gave the example of that country’s divestment of its Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, saying, “foreign investors have come in, they have pumped money into the expansion of the airport, which is now promoting the growth of their tourism industry”.

Smith also made reference to the recently privatized Port of Kingston, which he said was now attracting large investments, while stressing that air and seaports were “a means towards an end”.

In Barbados’ case, he emphasized that there was room for both domestic and foreign investment in GAIA and the Bridgetown Port, while pressing home his argument that “these are opportunities to relieve the fiscal burden that the Governments face, so that you can put your priority on other things”.

The CDB head insisted that Government would not be adversely impacted if the Port’s ownership and operation were in private hands, adding that in Barbados’ case the situation was urgent, since it placed the country’s fixed exchange rate under threat.

“I am not saying that you are at threat at the current time. What I’m saying is that if these things are not addressed ipso facto you are going to find yourself in a position where you might not be able to maintain a feature of your economic model that appears to be of very great value to Barbadian authorities and to the Barbadian people. So fiscal rectitude is key. We need to have it and we can’t be in a situation where, for a protracted period, we are running fiscal deficits that are unsustainable, that have implications for debt and ultimately for the overall strength of the economy.”

In addition to both ports, Smith suggested other state-held assets could be sold off, including the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation. He argued that Government could find other mechanisms for getting its message out.

In response to Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler’s suggestion that many state entities were highly indebted and therefore would not be attractive for divestment, the regional banker zeroed in on the Transport Board, saying it would have to undergo a process of reform to reduce the current burden on the state.

However, Smith was adamant that privatization was among a raft of options that could be pursued, even though he acknowledged that the decision was not his to take.

“At the end of the day the options that you choose to pursue must put you in a position where you get your fiscal house in order, address your indebtedness,” he said. (Barbados Today)

Courtesy: Caribbean 360

2016 US Presidential Elections & the Caribbean

By Andrea M. Ewart, Esq.

U.S. foreign and trade policy could look very different in 2017. Whether this is the case depends, of course, on who wins the Presidential elections on November 8th, 2016. At the same time, there is little reason to expect that any change will have a major impact on the current status of US-Caribbean relations.

Hillary Clinton as President will continue the general course of President Obama’s foreign and trade policy. With respect to the Caribbean, this policy has created some increased engagement with the region, notably in President Obama’s second term. President Obama’s 2015 meeting with CARICOM Heads of State in Jamaica is the highlight – not to be taken lightly given the countries/regions desirous of a visit from the U.S. President. The groundwork had already been laid by Vice President Biden’s meeting with CARICOM in Trinidad & Tobago, and the signature of the Trade & Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) in 2013. Since then, the U.S. and CARICOM meet bi-annually through the Trade & Investment Council (TIC) created by the TIFA.

Energy has received particular focus. After increasing levels of engagement in this area, President Obama initiated the Task Force for Caribbean and Central American Energy Security in 2015. Its goal is to diminish the vulnerability of small energy markets in the region to fluctuations in global energy markets.

The region can expect these key initiatives to continue under a President Clinton. Secretary of State Clinton was very focused on women and gender issues so this is one possible area of increased attention under her presidency.

The unknowns lie with a Trump presidency. Will the U.S. return to the “benign” neglect of the Caribbean, and indeed of any country or region that does not pose an immediate security or economic threat to the United States?

The policy that Trump the Candidate promotes is best described as isolationist. In his trade platform to “make America great again”, Mr. Trump promises to:

• Retrench on trade negotiations by renegotiating the 20+-year old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between U.S. Canada, and Mexico; and withdrawing from the TPP; and

• Strengthen trade enforcement against countries that his Administration would label as “cheats” – this would include unilaterally raising tariffs and duties on the goods from some countries.

Some of these commitments, if implemented, would trigger a trade war. Economists have said this eventuality would push the U.S. and the world back into economic recession. Even if this worst case scenario did not occur, the region is unlikely to see heightened engagement under a Trump presidency.

A very good basis has been laid, nevertheless, that could allow the current status of US-Caribbean foreign and trade relations to continue under either candidate. There may not be a US-Caribbean Energy Summit under a President Trump. However, the important work takes place after and in-between such high-level events. Progress comes from the work of professional foreign policy officials and engaged civil society. The key deciding factor for the future of US-Caribbean relations continues to be the extent to which the region responds while proactively and consistently engaging the U.S. with its own agenda.

US-Cuba foreign and trade relations are considered separately by US policymakers. The topic is also of particular interest to the rest of the Caribbean.

Ms. Clinton and Mr. Trump have taken opposing positions on the US opening of Cuba. Ms. Clinton supports the current opening and lifting of the US embargo. Mr. Trump perhaps appreciates the business opportunities but has said he would be prepared to return the restrictions if Cuba does not give more religious and political freedoms to its citizens.


Andrea Ewart is a Jamaican national and US-trained customs and international trade attorney with her own firm, DevelopTradeLaw, LLC, which works with businesses, governments, and individuals to facilitate the successful movement of goods and services across national borders. Ms Ewart also consults for Caribbean businesses and governments on World Trade Organization (WTO), CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), US-Caribbean trade relations, trade negotiations, and other trade issues.

Caribbean pollution experts meet in jamaica

KINGSTON, Jamaica -- At a recent regional workshop convened by the UN Environment - Caribbean Environment Programme, (UNEP CEP) in Jamaica from August 15-17, over 30 national and regional experts committed their support to the continued development of the region’s first state of marine environment report for the Caribbean Sea.

The development of the report will be financed by two regional projects funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) – the Caribbean and North Brazil Shelf Large Marine Ecosystems Project (UNDP/GEF CLME+) and the Integrating Water, Land and Ecosystem Management in Caribbean Small Island Developing States (GEF IWEco). The contributions from these two projects are expected to be in excess of US$100,000.

Addressing the experts during the workshop, Christopher Corbin, UNEP CEP’s programme officer with responsibility for its pollution sub-programme, explained that many countries in the wider Caribbean region have “limited data on the levels of pollution of their marine environments and that this was being compounded by inadequate national monitoring capacity”.

Corbin further highlighted that the lack of pollution data hindered the ability of governments to identify “pollution hot spots” and focus their Interventions in areas with the highest environmental and human health risks. According to recent UNEP reports, pollution continues to be one of the most significant threats to coastal and marine ecosystems and to public health in the wider Caribbean region.

This assessment report is expected to support harmonized regional approaches for managing transboundary pollution and to protect fragile coastal and marine resources.

The main challenges identified for developing the report included:

(1) Selecting the most appropriate and cost-effective methodology;
(2) Ensuring quality of data; and
(3) Gaining access to existing pollution-related information.

Improving knowledge about the state of the marine environment including identifying the major sources and impacts of pollution is one of the objectives of the Land Based Sources and Activities (LBS).


The LBS Protocol, which was adopted in 1999 and became law in 2010, requires countries in the wider Caribbean region to: “take all measures to prevent reduce and control pollution” of the Caribbean Sea.

The development of the region’s first state of environment report is just one of many ongoing activities by UNEP CEP and partners to provide capacity-building support that will enable regional governments to better assess the quantities, types, sources and impacts of land-based sources of marine pollution.

The first draft of the report is expected to be presented at the third conference of parties to the LBS Protocol to be held in early 2017.

Courtesy: Caribbean News Now

Four CARICOM leaders at NAM summit in Venezuela

MARGARITA ISLAND, Venezuela -- Only four Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders were among the kings, presidents and prime ministers of the 120-member Non Aligned Movement (NAM), which started its two-day summit in Margarita Island, Venezuela on Saturday -- and only two were expected to be present when the final declaration is adopted Sunday.

But altogether, ten of CARICOM’s 15 member-states are represented at the third such summit to be held on a Caribbean island, which started with a meeting of officials on Tuesday and of foreign affairs ministers on Thursday.

Known more for its beaches and tropical tourism fare than as a venue for meetings of world leaders, the tiny island has been home to the CARICOM delegations since the 17th NAM Summit started earlier this week.

The four prime ministers -- Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda, Roosevelt Skeritt of Dominica, Dr Timothy Harris of St Kitts and Nevis and Dr Ralph Gonsalves of St Vincent and the Grenadines -- were in Margarita Island on Saturday, when the two-day summit began.

But Harris and Skeritt both returned home on Saturday evening.

Six other CARICOM member-states are also represented, with Senator Peter David leading the Grenada delegation, and Saint Lucia represented by non-resident ambassador to ALBA and PetroCaribe Eustace Vitalis.

Other states represented by their resident ambassadors in Venezuela were Belize, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was expected to address the weekend summit on its last day.

He hinted before it started on Saturday that he would propose to transform the Non-Aligned Movement into “an international organization that defiantly says no to the new colonialism”.

Under the slogan "United on the Path for Peace,” Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodríguez gave the inaugural address on Tuesday, saying that during the weekend summit her country “will also ratify the defence of the right of the people of the world to fight for peace and sovereignty”.

"Emancipation, anti-imperialism and peace are the flags that define the XVII NAM Summit Venezuela 2016," said Rodriguez.

Among other ideals being promoted by the NAM, she added, are respect for independence, self-determination, sovereignty and the promotion of cooperative relations on the basis of mutual respect.

The organization also strives towards preservation of world peace and strongly opposes social exclusion. It also advocates non-interference in the internal affairs of states, as well as the disarmament and the fight against all forms of manifestation of imperial domination.

Venezuela has assumed NAM's rotating presidency for the next three years, after taking over from Iran.

With 120 member states, NAM is the second largest international body after the United Nations. It has 53 members from Africa, 39 from Asia, 26 from Latin America and the Caribbean, 17 observer countries and 10 observer organizations.

This is the third time a Caribbean island has hosted a NAM summit and the fourth time for a Latin American country.

Cuba hosted the NAM summit and assumed the presidency in 1979 and 2006 and Venezuela’s neighbour, Colombia, hosted the 1995 summit.

The Margarita summit ended Sunday. (The Diplomatic Courier)

Courtesy: Caribbean News Now

CTO and CHTA working with regional partners to build climate resilience in the tourism sector

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados -- Regional tourism development agency, the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and regional hospitality agency, the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA) have signed a letter of agreement (LoA) to join other regional agencies and institutions representing climate sensitive sectors as joint tourism partners on the consortium of regional sectoral early warning information systems across climate timescales (EWISACTs) coordination partners currently being spearheaded by the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH).

State-of-the-art, tailored climate information delivered through this agreement will better position the tourism sector to become more resilient to extreme climate events while enhancing various aspects of its business operations, including marketing.

David Farrell, principal of the CIMH, which functions as the secretariat for the EWISACTs consortium, presented the LoA for signing to Hugh Riley, CTO secretary-general, and Karolin Troubetzkoy, CHTA president, during the State of the Tourism Industry Conference (SOTIC) in Bridgetown, Barbados.

"The CTO recognizes that there is an urgent need to develop initiatives to enhance tourism sector resilience to climate variability and extremes utilising a very holistic and proactive approach. Through this partnership, we will seek to develop climate information tools and services which can be used by the tourism industry, particularly public and private sector decision-makers to direct marketing efforts, inform policy formulation and guide decision-making," said Riley.

Troubetzkoy also affirmed the engagement of the hotel sector, saying, “CHTA is keenly aware that our sector is highly vulnerable to the effects of climate, and we are committed to being proactive in ensuring Caribbean tourism is more resilient. This agreement recognizes the need for smart, effective partnerships that will allow us to develop strong, strategic policies and practices for addressing climate impacts.”

In the coming months, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), the Caribbean Agricultural Research & Development Institute (CARDI), the Caribbean Water and Wastewater Association (CWWA), and the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) will follow the lead of the CTO and the CHTA and sign the LoA to formalize their participation in the consortium.

Farrell noted, "The signing of this letter of agreement by the representatives of the regional tourism sector places the region at the leading edge of research and development activities geared at identifying, designing and delivering climate services solutions to advance the regional tourism sector. The CIMH looks forward to a long and successful partnership working with the CTO, CHTA and other climate sensitive sectors through the EWISACTs Consortium."

The agreement makes the Caribbean the first region globally to officially create and implement a joint commitment between climate-sensitive sectors and a climate services provider to build climate resilience. It also makes the CTO and the CHTA the first regional sectoral organisations to formally join the Consortium, a multi-sectoral partnership established through the programme for building regional climate capacity in the Caribbean (BRCCC programme), a three-year project made possible through the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by the CIMH.

Courtesy: Caribbean News Now

CDB funds workshop to improve service delivery in the tourism industry

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados -- For many countries in the Caribbean, a successful tourism industry is critical to social and economic growth and development. However, an increasingly competitive global tourism market has meant that Caribbean countries must find ways to differentiate themselves, in order to continue to attract visitors.

One way to do this is to improve the level of service delivery that is provided by tourism-related micro, small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs). The international Hospitality Assured Certification (HAC), which was developed specifically for tourism and tourism-related businesses, promotes a culture of service and business excellence. Businesses that have attained the HAC have signaled their commitment to service delivery, business excellence and continuous improvement.

The HAC process is supported by trained business advisors, who provide technical assistance to MSMEs seeking to become certified. As such, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has partnered with the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) to host a workshop for business advisors from the region. The workshop seeks to equip 16 participants with the necessary skills to advise on HAC processes for Caribbean MSMEs.

The workshop is taking place from September 5-9, at the CTO offices in Barbados. Speaking at the opening ceremony on September 5, Bonita Morgan, director, resource mobilization and development at the CTO, reminded participants that they are a critical part of the HAC process.

“You are the ones who help us to promote the programme, but also, you provide the technical assistance to the businesses to help them to meet the criteria to be able to strengthen their businesses and their processes and structures, to engage their employees and do the things that are really geared towards making the business experience a wonderful one, and so, you are a critical component of this process,” Morgan said.

CDB has provided funding in the amount of US$61,000 towards the workshop, through the bank’s Caribbean Technological Consultancy Services (CTCS) network.

“The CTCS network is the bank’s principal technical assistance programme, which seeks to enhance the managerial and operational capacities of micro, small and medium sized enterprises in the Bank’s borrowing member countries. This workshop is in keeping with interventions in that regard, where training is conducted to build the capacity of resource persons who are then required to provide technical assistance to MSMEs in their countries,” said Michel Thomas, operations officer (CTCS), CDB.

Workshop participants are from ten Caribbean countries: Anguilla, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Guyana, Jamaica, Monserrat, Saint Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Courtesy: Caribbean News Now

Karl Samuda appeals to banks to drop interest rates for sake of small businesses

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Friday September 2, 2016 – Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Karl Samuda has called on commercial banks to lower interest rates on loans to single digit, to boost production and growth within the micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) sector.

He cited agriculture as one sector which cannot grow with an interest rate that currently exceeds four per cent.

Minister Samuda noted that 97 per cent of registered taxpayers are found within the MSME sector, “but the sector cannot hope to thrive at the pace necessary to get this economy rolling, unless we get to low single-digit interest charges”.

He made the comments at the closing ceremony of the 2016 Scotiabank Vision Achiever Programme on Wednesday.

Minister Samuda said the greatest challenge for the small-business sector is the inability to provide the level of collateral needed to access loans.

“If you don’t have it (collateral), your negotiating skills are diminished. With big collateral you can bargain and get the best rates. I think for Jamaica to really go forward, the philosophy of banking has to be altered somewhat, whereby the focus is more on the viability of the project than on the level of collateral that is offered,” he contended.

Meanwhile, Samuda commended Scotiabank on its Vision Achiever Programme. Under that initiative, 25 small and medium enterprise operators benefited from an intensive three-month coaching programme designed to achieve core competencies for running a successful business.

Courtesy: Caribbean 360

Page 8 of 46