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CARICOM reparations baton moves off from Barbados

A reparations baton has started its regional journey, as part of a wider effort to spread the reparations message around the Caribbean, through public education and other initiatives focused on the youth.

The baton was passed by chairman of Barbados’ Task Force on Reparations, Professor Dr. Pedro Welch, to Acting Consul General of Guyana to Barbados, Monique Jackman, over the weekend. She will pass it to the Guyana Reparations Commission, which is planning to hold a reparations youth rally next month.

The relay is an initiative of the CARICOM Reparations Commission (CRC).

“Barbados has recommitted itself to the call for reparations on this occasion as a mark of respect for our ancestors who struggled for reparatory justice,” said Barbados’ Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, who is also Chairman of the CARICOM Sub-Committee on Reparations. “To mark this event, Barbados has the distinct honour of leading off the symbolic passing of the reparations baton to Guyana as a show of CARICOM solidarity for the cause of reparations.”

The CRC was formed by CARICOM Heads of Government in 2013. It is headed by Chairman Sir Hilary Beckles, and there are now several national reparations committees throughout the region.

A reparations baton and torch will be presented to national reparations commissions across the Caribbean at youth rallies organized under the banner ‘Roots, Rock, Reggae, Reparations’ which will celebrate the principles and programmes of the Caribbean and global reparatory justice movements.

The relay will culminate in Jamaica later this year where the Emancipation Rebellion led by Sam Sharpe will be remembered and celebrated.

The Barbados launch of the reparations relay coincided with the bicentennial commemoration of the death of General Bussa, the inspirational leader of the Barbados slave rebellion of 1816.

At a historical ceremony entitled ‘From Bussa to Barrow and Beyond’, at the site where Bussa was killed, Professor Welch said the passing of the baton from Barbados to Guyana represented an historic moment that “symbolized the maturing of the reparations initiative in the CARICOM countries.”

He said that it linked the struggle in Barbados with a wider Caribbean and global movement.

“From the very inception of the Task Force on Reparations in Barbados, it was felt that while there was a Barbadian component to the initiative, there was a wider sphere of operations that would require a Caribbean-wide collaboration. It is in its fraternal association with the regional body that the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Bussa rebellion of 1816 provided an opportunity to initiate the symbolic passing of a reparations baton, sequentially, to other CARICOM countries,” Professor Welch said.

“Quite apart from the regional focus, the local events in Barbados also provided an opportunity to see how the issue of commemorating a special moment in the historical narrative, namely a slave rebellion, ties this local event into the larger global struggle.”

In an address last Friday at a ceremony where a number of Barbadian nationals were recipients of awards for the invaluable contributions they have made to the island, Prime Minister Stuart urged the audience to keep the issue of reparatory justice at the forefront within the region.

“We must sensitize our people to the ingredients of this debate and of course to the need to be part of this struggle to ensure that a lot of the damage that has been done as a result of our slave and colonial experience can be repaired not only by our own efforts, which of course we cannot forsake or ignore, but repaired by those who caused the damage in the first place,” the Barbadian leader said.

Courtesy: Caribbean 360

Stakeholders set path for establishment of regional creative industries body

KINGSTON, Jamaica -- The Caribbean is renowned worldwide for its creative culture, including music, folklore, crafts, festivals and carnivals. Despite making some progress in developing the cultural and creative sectors, the region has lagged in translating its creativity into substantial economic gains.

This reality prompted the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) heads of government at their 26th Intercessional meeting held in February 2015, to recommend the establishment of a Caribbean Creative Industries Management Unit (CCIMU), a dedicated body to address the needs of the region’s cultural and creative industries.

Further to CARICOM’s recommendation, on Tuesday, April 12 in Kingston, Jamaica, 28 stakeholders representing the creative industries of the region gathered for a historic consultation. This meeting set the path for the creation of the CCIMU. When established, the Unit will address the needs of the regional creative industries -- including business development, trade opportunities, and the protection of artists’ and stakeholders’ intellectual property rights.

The creative industries have shown impressive growth in terms of contribution to GDP in many Caribbean islands such as Saint Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago. Yet the sector is faced with a number of challenges.

“The biggest gap has been the absence of a structure that looks at the monetization of the creative industries for the region. We lack a framework that actually measures or gives tangible voice to what needs to be done, how or what data can be collected, how it can actually be monetized, and how we can benefit from intellectual property value in the creative industries,” said Pamela Coke-Hamilton, executive director, the Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export). Caribbean Export has been assigned the lead role in the development of the CCIMU.

The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) is providing funding for technical assistance to support the establishment of the CCIMU, through the staging of stakeholder consultations and the development of a business plan for the Unit.

“CDB is pleased to be a partner in driving the establishment of the CCIMU. We view the creative industries as key to improving the competitiveness of the Caribbean economy and to guiding our Region toward sustainable social and economic development,” said Edward Greene, division chief, Technical Cooperation Division, CDB.

Jesús Orús Báguena, chargé d’affaires a.i., acting head of delegation of the European Union to Jamaica, Belize, The Bahamas, Turks and Caicos Islands and Cayman Islands, during his opening remarks, stressed that there was a huge potential for the Caribbean’s creative industries through the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) signed in 2008 “by opening the EU market beyond WTO commitments in the services sectors, including creative and entertainment industries.”

“Filling the EPA with real life is about carrying out an ambitious reform agenda, creating an enabling environment for business and developing the competitiveness and capacity of the private sector to engage in trade,” he added.

Olivia Grange, minister of culture, gender, entertainment and sport, Jamaica, in her remarks, welcomed the involvement of the banking and export sectors in the creative industries and brought attention to some of the achievements thus far in the sectors’ economic development. In addition, she offered suggestions as to how the group could chart the way forward, avoiding duplication in the process.

At the one-day consultation, stakeholders made recommendations for the proposed CCIMU. They heard presentations on the concept of the CCIMU; best practices from other countries and regions; and examples of models that best suit the CCIMU, including gender-sensitive marketing and communications strategies and a sustainability plan.

The stakeholders represented 14 member states of CARICOM: The Bahamas; Barbados; Belize; Guyana; Haiti; Jamaica; the OECS countries; and Suriname.

A CCIMU business plan presentation is scheduled for June in Trinidad and Tobago.

Courtesy: Caribbean News Now

Martinique formally accedes to OECS associate membership

CASTRIES, St Lucia -- Philippe Seigneurin, deputy head of mission at the French embassy officially presented the formal instruments approving the admission of Martinique to associate membership of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) to the director general of the OECS Dr Didacus Jules during a formal ceremony on April 7, 2016, at the OECS Commission Headquarters in Castries, Saint Lucia.

“It's a great day for Martinique, for the French government and for me, because I have the honour and the privilege and the pleasure to inform you that the procedures required by the constitution of the Republic for the entry into force of the said agreement have been completed,” Seigneurin said.

The French diplomat expressed great pleasure in presenting the approval instrument of the agreement.

Staff of the OECS Commission and OECS Commissioners were among the invitees to witness the handing over of the instruments of accession.

Jules expressed jubilation at Martinique's official confirmation of accession to the OECS.

"We would like to express our deepest appreciation to the French Republic through its Minister of Foreign Affairs Hon. Jean-Marc Ayrault for assiduously pushing this through the legislative processes required for its proclamation. We also would like to recognize the historical commitment of President of the Executive Council of the Territorial Authority Hon. Alfred Marie Jeanne who has consistently advocated the integration of Martinique into the family of the Caribbean. I would be grateful if Commissioner Lesales of the Territorial Authority transmit to President Marie Jeanne our great anticipation of our meeting to discuss the deepening of this process. Today we embrace once again but in an official manner our sister Martinique in the family of the OECS. Welcome again, sister, your time has come, let us continue walking together,” he said.

On hand as well was St Vincent and the Grenadines' ambassador to the OECS Ellsworth John who shared his elation with the ceremony.

“I couldn't miss the opportunity to welcome Martinique into our fold. Their contribution and participation is a very important milestone for the OECS. It shows an interest of other countries in being a part of our forward movement as an organisation. I am just happy that finally we could embrace Martinique as full member of the OECS,” he said.

On February 4, 2015, Martinique made the historic step towards membership of the OECS when the French overseas territory formally signed the documents to initiate accession to associate membership to the sub regional grouping. At that time, president of the Regional Council of Martinique Serge Letchimy signed on behalf of the French territory.

The signing ceremony was the highpoint of the 60th meeting of the OECS Authority held for the first time in a French territory. Prior to that, on October 14, 2014, the Regional Council of Martinique in a unanimous all-party historic vote agreed to join the Eastern Caribbean fraternity of nations.

Courtesy: Caribbean News Now

Expo Jamaica looks to boost buyer attendance

KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) -- The Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) is seeking to bolster buyer participation in its upcoming Expo Jamaica 2016.

Through its ‘Buyers’ Programme’, the agency is inviting potential buyers to visit the show and have meaningful business-to-business discussions with local producers and service providers.

Already, over 470 buyers have registered for the April 14 to 17 event, with 265 of these being locals. The international buyers are expected from the United States of America, the Caribbean, Europe, Canada, Asia and Africa.

Manager for market development at JAMPRO, Berletta Henlon Forrester, noted that the Buyers’ Programme creates an avenue for exhibitors to increase linkages and forge business and trade relations with local and international buyers.

“The Buyers’ Programme, which is the trade element of Expo Jamaica, is about exposing Jamaica’s products and services to buyers, that is, distributors, importers, retailers, wholesalers and these are people from Jamaica and all over the world,” Henlon Forrester pointed out.

She noted that the programme not only targets the traditional buyers but also procurement officers in various institutions such as government ministries, departments and agencies; hospitals; schools and the security forces.

The market development manager is inviting buyers to visit Expo Jamaica “to see what Jamaica has on show.”

“You will find that many of the products that you are probably importing from overseas markets are made right here in Jamaica and are of very good quality,” she pointed out.

Expo Jamaica will be held at two venues – the National Arena and the National Indoor Sports Centre in Kingston.

To be highlighted at the event are: art and craft, beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), business and other services, chemicals, construction, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, food and agro/fresh produce/processed foods, furniture and bedding, information and communications technology (ICT), minerals and metals, printing, packaging and labelling, textile and apparel.

The first two days of the Expo will be designated for the buyers, giving them the opportunity to interact with the exhibitors in a quiet environment that is conducive to business. All buyers must be registered in order to participate in the Expo.

“We will organise your meetings for you and you are free to roam the floors, interact with the exhibitors, sit and meet with them; examine the products, sample them. We have designated meeting spaces and, ultimately, what we want is for our buyers and exhibitors to transact business,” Henlon Forrester explained.

She said follow-up after the event is important in order to ensure that those early discussions between buyers and the exhibitors result in actual business transactions.

Over 500 buyers were registered for the last event held in 2014, with 230 exhibitors and 15,000 consumers.

There were approximately 100 trade leads coming out of Expo Jamaica 2014, with over 65 percent converted to real world business transactions

Courtesy: Caribbean News Now

Tensions with T&T overshadow Jamaica Expo

Continuing tensions between Jamaica and T&T are forming part of the backdrop to Thursday’s launch of Expo Jamaica 2016—the country’s largest trade exposition.

Organisers have estimated that during the four days of showcasing locally-manufactured products, up to US$2.5 million in business will be generated.

President of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) William Mahfood has called for restrictions on T&T imports in the face of what he claims was a breach of the Caribbean Community Single Market and Economy (CSME) when a group of Jamaican visitors were turned back at Piarco International Airport on March 21.

The PSOJ is not directly involved in the event, but many of its members have signed up for the mammoth exposition.

A Jamaica Manufacturers’ Association (JMA) animated public service video entitled Jamaica wins again, released online last week, maintained the high pitch of responses to the development.

A JMA release has described the T&T immigration stance as “divisive” since “the goal of hassle-free movement is an enshrined right which must not be held to the whims and fancies of any individual or Member State.”

The JMA video depicts three competitors in a race against imported products featuring competitors clad in the national colours of T&T, Barbados and Jamaica.

The race commentator calls on spectators to supports things made in Jamaica in order to create more jobs and give people money to spend. In the end “Jamaica wins!” exclaims the commentator.

Yesterday, Jamaica Exporters’ Association (JEA) vice president Paul Lewis referred to Jamaica’s “valued trading partners in Caricom” saying Expo organisers welcomed the country’s regional business connections this week.

“Like our cricketers last week at the T20 and our athletes, musicians and varied talents, we will continue to punch above our weight in providing champion goods and services to our valued trading partners around the Caricom region and globally,” he told the T&T Guardian.

“We are looking forward to welcoming them all to Jamaica this week...and are thrilled at the business and export opportunities that will come to light from this dynamic exposition.”

“Champion breakthroughs, champion goods and service, champion regional and global trade. That’s the agenda.” Lewis said.

Several business representatives from T&T are due to attend the expo under the theme The Business Hub of the Caribbean.

It is a collaboration involving the country’s major business groupings including the JMA, JEA, state run JAMPRO Trade and Investment Jamaica.

Jamaica’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Kamina Johnson Smith, has been quoted as saying talks with T&T Foreign Minister Dennis Moses have begun in an attempt to resolve the issue “at the political level.”

Courtesy: Trinidad Guardian
By: Wesley Gibbings

IDB study says $1.8 billion needed to end poor housing conditions in the Caribbean

Approximately US$1.8 billion would be needed to end poor housing conditions currently endured by 1 million residents in The Bahamas, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago, according to a new Inter-American Development Bank report, The State of Housing in Six Caribbean Countries.

The report, which analyzed the implementation of social housing programs in the Caribbean from 2000 to 2015, underscores the importance of housing to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the larger agenda in poverty alleviation, economic development, and climate resilience.

Rapid urbanization has created a housing deficit in Caribbean, prompting a large share of the population to live in informal settlements that are disproportionately affected by landslides, flooding, and storm surges, the report says. Moreover, the absence of efficiently functioning land markets, inaccurate property registries, and land disputes have compounded the problem and slowed the pace of housing programs.

“Improving housing conditions in the Caribbean can have large impacts on poverty reduction, improving lives of a significant share of the population,” said Michael G. Donovan, IDB senior housing and urban development specialist, one of the authors of the study. “The IDB and the Caribbean have been working together on several projects to help solve this challenge. However, more needs to be done. With this book, we expect to help the region develop a comprehensive urban agenda so countries can achieve their sustainable development goals.”

The study says that Caribbean governments need to incorporate into their social housing programs measures to protect homes against rising sea level because half of the population in the region lives within five kilometers from the coastline.

“As the Caribbean urbanizes, it will be also critically important to incorporate risk reduction into the location and design of social housing,” said Pauline McHardy, Jamaican urban planner, another author of the report.

According to the report, several housing ministries in the region are adopting new designs to increase the resilience of coastal housing, improving building codes and ensuring that floor levels of social housing are above recorded flood levels. Elevating homes in flood-prone areas saves $15 for every $1 invested because governments do not need to rebuild infrastructure.

Supporting the Caribbean to confront urban challenges and increase economic vitality of cities is central to the Bank’s mission in the region. The IDB has provided over US$700 million in long-term financing to support urban programs in the Caribbean since 1968.

Courtesy: Caribbean News Now

IDB study says $1.8 billion needed to end poor housing conditions in the Caribbean

Approximately US$1.8 billion would be needed to end poor housing conditions currently endured by 1 million residents in The Bahamas, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago, according to a new Inter-American Development Bank report, The State of Housing in Six Caribbean Countries.

The report, which analyzed the implementation of social housing programs in the Caribbean from 2000 to 2015, underscores the importance of housing to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the larger agenda in poverty alleviation, economic development, and climate resilience.

Rapid urbanization has created a housing deficit in Caribbean, prompting a large share of the population to live in informal settlements that are disproportionately affected by landslides, flooding, and storm surges, the report says. Moreover, the absence of efficiently functioning land markets, inaccurate property registries, and land disputes have compounded the problem and slowed the pace of housing programs.

“Improving housing conditions in the Caribbean can have large impacts on poverty reduction, improving lives of a significant share of the population,” said Michael G. Donovan, IDB senior housing and urban development specialist, one of the authors of the study. “The IDB and the Caribbean have been working together on several projects to help solve this challenge. However, more needs to be done. With this book, we expect to help the region develop a comprehensive urban agenda so countries can achieve their sustainable development goals.”

The study says that Caribbean governments need to incorporate into their social housing programs measures to protect homes against rising sea level because half of the population in the region lives within five kilometers from the coastline.

“As the Caribbean urbanizes, it will be also critically important to incorporate risk reduction into the location and design of social housing,” said Pauline McHardy, Jamaican urban planner, another author of the report.

According to the report, several housing ministries in the region are adopting new designs to increase the resilience of coastal housing, improving building codes and ensuring that floor levels of social housing are above recorded flood levels. Elevating homes in flood-prone areas saves $15 for every $1 invested because governments do not need to rebuild infrastructure.

Supporting the Caribbean to confront urban challenges and increase economic vitality of cities is central to the Bank’s mission in the region. The IDB has provided over US$700 million in long-term financing to support urban programs in the Caribbean since 1968.

Courtesy: Caribbean News Now

Multi-million dollar project to get Jamaican produce sold in US cities

Jamaica’s farmers are set to benefit from a US$29-million pilot project, which will see more local produce being sold in cities across the United States.

The Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) has partnered with the US-based National Association of Christian Educators (NACE) to embark on the project, which will initially benefit 10 farmers in St. Ann for one year.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by both entities yesterday. Under the agreement, the farmers will be supplying three cities in the US with vegetables such as turnip greens, sweet potatoes, string beans, okra, cabbage, bell peppers, sweet peppers, carrots, cucumbers, Irish potatoes, corn, squash and onions.

The NACE has provided loan funds, which the farmers will be able to access through the local banks and credit unions.
The farmers are expected to start planting on May 1, with reaping to begin within 45 to 90 days. Export of the produce is slated to get underway in June.

The goods will be sent to Nashville, Tennessee where they will be sorted, then sent via 18-wheeler trucks to Detroit, St. Louis and Oklahoma City twice a week.

President of NACE, Dr Amos Jones, said through this partnership, Jamaica will become the “bread basket for the food deserts of the US.”

Pointing to the significance of this arrangement, Dr. Amos said it will enable more residents of inner city areas in the US to access fresh produce.

He noted that food market chains have been pulling out of these areas, leaving persons to travel long distances to purchase produce.

As such he said, the arrangement will foster “the development of agriculture and agri-business in Jamaica, and the supply of nutritional foods in the inner cities of the US.”

Dr Amos informed that in the initial phase of the project the produce will be sold through farmers’ markets at various locations.

“We will probably conclude that pilot aspect in about six months and that’s when we will expand this operation. We are going to refine the process so that there is no glitch in the process,” he noted.

Dr Amos said that after the pilot phase the business will also be opened up to more farmers across Jamaica.

President of the JAS, Norman Grant, said the project will provide ample opportunity for Jamaica’s farmers to develop a marketing culture to provide high value and top quality farm produce.

He noted that the JAS, through its central marketing system, the Jamaica Agricultural Society Commercial Enterprise Limited (JASCEL), will be contracting farmers to produce “A-grade” agricultural products for the US market.

“So, we will sell to them (US market) directly. We will be that intermediary between the farmers and NACE,” he said.

“We are very excited about this transaction because the MoU is based on a spirit of co-operation and mutual benefit to both parties and the extended farming sector.”

Courtesy: Caribbean 360

CARICOM in banking talks with US

Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister Gaston Browne is leading a Caribbean delegation for discussions with United States authorities on the threat of the withdrawal of correspondent banking services that could destroy the region’s financial sector.

Caribbean countries are facing the loss of access to the international financial markets by mainly the region’s indigenous banks, with several international banks—primarily in the US and Europe—signalling to client banks in the region an unwillingness to continue carrying their business.

Correspondent banks are financial institutions that provide services on behalf of another financial institution. They are used by banks in one country to conduct business in a foreign country.

Browne, as agreed by Caricom heads in February, is leading a high-level advocacy group at the US-Caribbean Public-Private Dialogue on Correspondent Banking in Jamaica.

“I intend to forcefully put forward Caricom’s position on this matter to the US authorities because I believe we are being treated unfairly,” Browne said in a statement about his plans for the meeting in Jamaica.

“We have been labelled as tax havens and accused of lax tax regimes and avenues for money laundering and terrorism financing, yet there is absolutely no evidence to support these allegations…In all instances where banks and financial institutions have to pay penalties on such matters, not one Caricom nation has ever been involved. This cannot be right, it cannot be just.”

The move by global banks threatens to impact several critical services including remittance transfers. International trade, the facilitation of credit card settlements for local clients are among the other effects the region faces.

Courtesy: Trinidad Guardian

Chamber not in support of boycotting trade with Trinidad and Tobago

The Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC) says it does not support a call for a boycott of goods from Trinidad and Tobago following the latest incident regarding the decision by Immigration officials in Port of Spain to refuse entry of 12 Jamaicans last month.

“(We need to) explore the other avenues before we reach that stage. My initial reaction is to let’s sit down and reason this thing out and if we can’t get anywhere we will go to the next step,” JCC president Warren McDonald said on RJR radio.

The Trinidad and Tobago government has since said that the Jamaicans were denied entry because it felt that they would be a “charge” on the public purse.

Last week, President of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), William Mahfood, said Jamaica should consider using its influence within CARICOM until Trinidad and Tobago honours its obligations under the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Single Market and Economy (CSME) that allows for the free movement of goods, skills, labour and services across the regional integration grouping.

“We need to stand up for our own rights as a country and we need to say to Trinidad , if you don’t allow us access to your country, whether it is to freely move within CARICOM (Caribbean Community) then you won’t have access to our market,” he added.

President of the Jamaica Manufacturers’ Association (JMA) Metry Seaga, is also calling for a re-examination of the CSME.

“It’s not working the way it was meant to work. We cannot pick and choose the parts of it that we want to implement and leave out the parts that we don’t. If people are going to Trinidad and being turned back, then we have a serious problem… “

Jamaica is the fourth largest market for goods from Trinidad and Tobago and buys approximately US$500 million of goods from the oil-rich twin island republic.

Courtesy: Antigua Observer

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