Monthly Archives: April 2016

ACP 103rd Council of Ministers Meeting Concludes in Dakar, Senegal

Alicia Nicholls

The Council of Ministers of the 79-member African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group concluded its 103rd meeting in Dakar, Senegal yesterday. Both the ACP and the European Union are currently in a period of reflection on the future of ACP-EU relations post 2020 when the Cotonou Partnership Agreement expires. A twin issue for ACP member states is how to transform the tri-continental grouping into a modern global actor. In this regard, ACP member states welcomed the much-anticipated report of the ACP Eminent Persons Group. The EPG was launched in March 2013.

Charged with the mandate of reviewing the ACP as an international organisation, the EPG is headed by former Nigerian President Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and comprised of former high level government officials, academics and business leaders from across the ACP’s six regions, including former President of Guyana, Bharrat Jagdeo.  The EPG’s report entitled “A New Vision for our Future –  A 21st century African, Caribbean and Pacific Group delivering for its Peoples” will be on the agenda at the 8th Summit of ACP Heads of Government which will take place in Papua New Guinea this May 30th-June 1st.

According to the official ACP Secretariat press release following the meeting, ACP Ministers also discussed and took decisions on a wide range of other trade and development related topics, including Zika, trade for development, fisheries, sugar, inter alia.Importantly, the Council has called on the EU to exercise greater flexibility in the outstanding EPA negotiations with ACP regions which have not yet concluded EPA negotiations with the EU; Central Africa, Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) and the Pacific. So far CARIFORUM is the only ACP sub-grouping which has ratified a full EPA with the EU, while the West Africa, East African Community, and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) EPA group have signed more limited agreements.

At the meeting, CARIFORUM states Guyana and Belize requested ACP assistance with their long-running border disputes with Venezuela and Guatemala, respectively. Both disputes have seen escalation in tensions in recent months. The latest flare up involves the fatal shooting of a Guatemalan teenager by Belizean forces in a border community between the two countries  last week and charges by Belize that Guatemala is amassing troops along the border, prompting a visit by head of the Organisation of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, to both countries.

The final texts of the decisions and resolutions of this meeting will soon be available on the ACP’s website.

The full press release on meeting is available on the ACP website here.

Alicia Nicholls, B.Sc., M.Sc., LL.B. is a trade and development consultant with a keen interest in sustainable development, international law and trade. You can also read more of her commentaries and follow her on Twitter @LicyLaw.

 

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African, Caribbean, Pacific Young Professional Network

Great interview Yentyl!

CommonwealthYouthCouncil

CYC interview with Yentyl Williams, Founder ACP YPN

  1. Why did you decide to start ACP YPN?

I founded the African, Caribbean and Pacific Young Professionals Network (ACP YPN) in December 2014 to advocate for the utilisation of Article 26 on ‘youth issues’ of the joint and legally binding agreement between the European Union (EU) and the ACP group of states, called the Cotonou Partnership Agreement. Through my academic and professionals experiences working on EU-ACP trade, but most importantly, my own experience as a young professional, I became aware that there was a gap that formed between the technical cooperation at the EU and ACP levels, and youth. For example, having come to Brussels, as both British and Trinidadian/Tobagonian, I completed my first internship with the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Trade, working on EU trade with ACP countries, but I was disappointed to find out that there were no internships at the…

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COTED concludes 42nd Meeting; Deputy SG calls for greater ease of doing business

Alicia Nicholls

The Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) convened its 42nd meeting in Georgetown, Guyana last week, with the Caribbean Single Market & Economy (CSME) as one of the main areas for discussion for CARICOM trade ministers. COTED is the organ of the Community responsible for the promotion of trade and economic development and consists of Ministers designated by CARICOM Member States.

The agenda for the two-day meeting which took place April 21-22 included the treatment of CARICOM nationals, trade in goods, trade in agriculture, the issue of correspondent banking and regional transportation. Dr. Arancha Gonzalez, Executive Director of the International Trade Centre (ITC)  was also present at the meeting.

Despite the Caribbean Court of Justice’s judgment in Myrie v Barbados, the vexing issue of the treatment of CARICOM nationals seeking entry into other CARICOM member states is a topic which has reared its head in the news media again in recent weeks.  The latest flare up surrounded the deportation of 12 Jamaicans by Trinidad & Tobago authorities over the Easter weekend, which prompted some Jamaicans, not for the first time, to call for boycotts of products from the twin-island republic.

Deputy Secretary General of CARICOM, Ambassador Manorma Soeknandan,touched on this issue in her opening remarks.  Noting that the average citizen judges integration by the ease by which he or she can cross regional borders, she highlighted that “more sensitization has to be done among our border officials in relation to the rules that are already in place and the procedures that should be followed”. She suggested to COTED Ministers that they may wish to consider “establishing a quick-response mechanism to resolve situations as they arise on the ground”.

Terming the CSME “the bedrock of our economic resilience”, Ambassador Soeknanda emphasised that CARICOM people wanted to see results and rightly noted that “consolidation and enhancement of the operations of the Single Market will also allow for a more coherent approach in our External Trade Negotiations”. She referenced the review of the Common External Tariff which is to be commenced.

Ambassador Soeknanda also spoke of the need to improve the ease of doing business in the region, an issue which I have touched on in previous articles. She said, “we are all complaining in our Region [about the ease of doing business], but what is each one of us doing to change the situation.” She noted that in addition to improving our individual country rankings, there are issues which Caribbean countries can address jointly, such as the time taken to start a business, registering property, and the enforcement of contracts.

The Deputy Secretary General’s remarks may be accessed here.

Alicia Nicholls, B.Sc., M.Sc., LL.B. is a trade and development consultant with a keen interest in sustainable development, international law and trade. You can also read more of her commentaries and follow her on Twitter @LicyLaw.

 

Caribbean Countries Looking East for Trade and Investment

Alicia Nicholls

This week the Barbados Chamber of Commerce & Industry (BCCI) signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the  Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkey. Further north, Jamaica recently announced that it is appointing investment ambassadors to the Middle East and India and Europe to explore business opportunities for Jamaicans. A few weeks ago Antigua & Barbuda’s government announced plans to establish an embassy in Iraq. Caribbean countries are increasingly courting Asian and Middle Eastern countries, with the aim of unlocking business opportunities for Caribbean exporters and business persons in eastern markets.

Why is the Caribbean looking East?

Caribbean countries’ eastern turn has its genesis in three main factors: firstly, the need to diversify their trade partners in an effort to lessen their vulnerability to economic slowdowns in their traditional export partners (the United States, Canada and the European Union). Secondly, there is the desire to promote South-South economic and political cooperation as a conduit for development. Thirdly, there is the recognition of the growing shift in the global balance of power away from Western capitals towards the East. Asian economies are expected to account for two-thirds of the world’s population and half of global GDP by 2025, according to the United Nations.

China has already solidified its position as a major investment and development partner in the region. Lamentably, Caribbean countries’ overtures towards the East have drawn criticism from some elements in Caribbean societies, with some expressing wariness about the timing given the political instability in the Middle East, the seemingly limited cultural affinity between Caribbean countries and the predominantly Muslim countries of the East, and the diplomatic fall-out some believe would occur if Caribbean countries engage too much with traditional western foes like Iran. However, many of these criticisms are both misguided and myopic.

Firstly, Western countries themselves have recognised this shifting balance of power and have sought to expand their presence in eastern markets, with the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement being just one example. Secondly, Caribbean countries have had diplomatic relations with most Asian and Middle Eastern countries for years. What is new is there is now more meaningful efforts at deepening relations through the establishment of embassies and consulates, negotiating visa waiver agreements, open skies agreements and protocols for cooperation.

Thirdly, contrary to popular belief, there are some cultural and historical links between the Caribbean and the East.  As a result of the indentured labour system during the colonial era and successive waves of immigration, East Indians comprise a plurality of the populations in Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad & Tobago and there are also sizable Chinese, Syrian and Lebanese diasporic communities in those countries, as well as a 70,000 person strong Javanese diaspora in Suriname. Jamaica, Barbados and Antigua & Barbuda have much smaller East Indian populations.

Many of these diasporic communities, whether immigrant or native-born, still hold on to cultural relics of their ancestral homeland, including music, religion, cultural norms and in some cases, language. After all, one of highlights of visiting Trinidad & Tobago is eating local Indian-based delicacies like roti and doubles. Additionally, walk into an East Indian owned store in the region and you are sure to find products which were  imported in bulk from the Indian sub-continent.

Another cultural link between the Caribbean and some Eastern countries is the love for cricket. Several West Indies players have played and/or are currently playing in the Indian Premier League (IPL). Some notable names include big names like Chris Gayle, Darren Sammy, Dwayne Bravo, Jason Holder, to name a few. It was also recently reported that seven Afghan players have been registered in the Caribbean Premier League draft. Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan currently owns the Trinbago Knight Riders (formerly the Trinidad & Tobago Red Steel), Trinidad & Tobago’s franchise in the Caribbean Premier League.

Caribbean students are increasingly benefiting from scholarships offered by the governments of China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea and Malaysia to study in those countries.

Trade and Investment

While the limited data available shows that trade between Caribbean and Asian/Middle Eastern countries is minimal, the bilateral trade and investment relationship between Trinidad & Tobago and India is a good example of the potential which exists.

Data published by the Indian High Commission to Port of Spain (Trinidad & Tobago) shows that in 2014 India exported US $165.48m in goods to the twin island republic, and imported 68.42m. Examples of Indian FDI in Trinidad & Tobago include Bank of Baroda, the New India Assurance Co and Mittal Steel. Cultural industries trade also has huge potential. Trinidad & Tobago was one of the filming locations for the Bollywood film, Dulha Mil Gaya starring Shah Rukh Khan.

Barbados has signed double taxation agreements with the United Arab Emirates (2014) and, the Kingdom of Bahrain (2012), which are currently not yet in force but could be used as vehicles for Middle Eastern investment in Latin America and the Caribbean

Development Finance & Islamic Banking

Earlier this month, Guyana became the 57th member of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), joining Suriname to be the only two countries in the western hemisphere to be members of this multilateral development finance institution. Membership of the IsDB  will provide Guyana another means of access to concessional financing, including grants and interest-free loans. Guyana and Suriname also have full membership of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), a prerequisite to joining the IsDB. At the recently held 13th OIC Heads of Government Summit in Istanbul, Turkey, Suriname reiterated its intention to become  the hub of Islamic banking and finance in the Americas.

Tourism

The rising middle class in Asian and Middle Eastern countries represent a large untapped tourist market for both mainstream and faith-based tourism.  Halal tourism, which provides tourism and services meeting the requirements of Muslim religious rules and practices, is a growing niche in global tourism, not dissimilar to Kosher tourism which caters to persons of the Jewish faith. Several countries, including the predominantly Christian Philippines, have been repositioning themselves to benefit from the global rise in Halal tourism. It may be something which countries like Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad & Tobago, could explore given their greater familiarity with Halal customs.

Challenges

Exporting goods and services and promoting travel trade in a new market has its complications, from the need to conduct adequate market research so as to understand and meet consumer preferences, to familiarisation of regional exporters with cultural and business norms,regulatory standards and border requirements in the target market, as well as linguistic barriers. It might be easier at first to foster links with countries like India, Malaysia and Singapore where English is widely spoken and where there are some  cultural affinities.

Distance is also a major logistical factor in terms of both ocean freight and air travel. Open skies agreements would help promote greater travel and trade by freeing the air services framework from government interference. However, travel between the Caribbean and Eastern countries is currently time-consuming as it requires changing planes, and transiting through metropolitan hubs like London, Amsterdam or Miami. Nationals of some Asian and Middle Eastern countries require visas to transit through these hubs.  There is some hope, however. Air China commenced service from Beijing to Cuba via Montreal in Canada in December 2015. Although one still has to transit, there is only a three-hour stop over. As technological advancements improve the capacity and speed of long haul airliners, it is not unlikely that there could one day be direct non-stop flights between the Caribbean and Asian and Middle Eastern countries once there is sufficient demand, whether latent or effective.

If one includes China and India, eastern markets include a population of over 3 billion people which is ripe for tapping. As the middle class in Asia and Middle Eastern countries continues to rise, there will be greater demand for travel, and also greater scope for trade and investment between these regions. I believe there are also opportunities for greater engagement, exchange and learning between the Caribbean and eastern countries, particularly in areas like culture, education, technology and sports. Critically, there will be the need to foster linkages between private sector associations and educational institutions in both regions. The countries of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) would also need to consider the feasibility of negotiating formal agreements for facilitating trade and investment with individual eastern countries or trade blocs like the Association for South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).

There is also the need for language training and cultural awareness between the peoples of the Caribbean and eastern countries. A good start is the Confucius Institutes at the University of the West Indies’ Mona, St. Augustine and Cave Hill Campuses which would assist in this process in so far as Chinese-Caribbean relations are concerned.

Alicia Nicholls, B.Sc., M.Sc., LL.B. is a trade and development consultant with a keen interest in sustainable development, international law and trade. You can also read more of her commentaries and follow her on Twitter @LicyLaw.

Is Brexit a risk for the Caribbean?

Alicia Nicholls

In a few weeks’ time, June 23rd to be exact, the British people will vote in a referendum to determine the future of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’s 40-plus year formal relationship with continental Europe. The possibility of a UK vote for an EU exit, poignantly termed “Brexit” in popular parlance, was identified by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in its recently released World Economic Outlook Update Report as a major risk to the global economy.

The fear of a negative impact of Brexit on the UK and global economy has been echoed off the walls of practically every major economic and political forum within the last few months, with the recently concluded IMF/World Bank Group Spring Meetings  being the latest example.

Though the US, Canada, and in some respects China, have surpassed the UK’s economic importance to the Caribbean region as a destination for Caribbean exports and as a source of foreign direct investment (FDI), the UK remains an important source market for tourist arrivals.  It is also the region’s closest ally in the EU and a partner in helping to ensure the region’s concerns are raised and considered. Therefore, there are possible economic and foreign policy implications for the Caribbean if the UK severs its ties with the EU.

Background

The UK joined the European Economic Community (EEC), the predecessor to the EU, in 1973 but has never joined the eurozone, opting instead to retain the Pound Sterling as its currency and set its own monetary policy. While it is outside the scope of this article to delve into the merits and demerits of either position or to render an opinion on such, those who support the “Vote Leave” cite immigration from poorer EU countries and the perceived impact on UK social services, as well as the loss of British sovereignty as the EU looks to create an “ever closer union”. They see the costs of EU membership (both financial and figurative) outweighing the benefits and point to Switzerland and Norway as examples of European countries successfully striving outside of the EU.

Those in favour of the “Stay vote” highlight the EU as a final destination for nearly half of all British exports and the hypothetical havoc that would be inflicted on the UK economy should the UK cease to be a member of the single market.According to data published by the UK Office of National Statistics, the EU in 2014 accounted for 44.6% of UK exports of goods and services, and 53.2% of UK imports of goods and services.

While Article 50 of the Treaty on the European Union (TEU) provides for withdrawal from the EU by any member state, the current UK situation is untested waters. In 1975 British voters opted to remain in the EEC. Although Greenland left the EEC in 1985 following a referendum, no state has ever left the EU.  Therefore, there is uncertainty about the impact of a potential Brexit on the EU and the global economy considering that the UK is the EU’s 2nd largest member by GDP and 3rd largest by population.

 A “leave” vote will not automatically mean the UK is out of the EU and there is a process to be followed which Article 50 of the TEU outlines once the UK notifies its intention to withdraw pursuant to Article 50(2). This includes negotiation and conclusion of a withdrawal agreement in accordance with Article 218(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). Unless the European Council and the UK decide an extension, EU treaties would cease to be applicable to the UK once the withdrawal agreement enters into force or, failing that, two years after the UK has notified its intention to leave.

Caribbean Implications – Trade, Tourism & Investment

The UK still ranks as a major partner for many Caribbean countries’ exports and imports. For commodities-exporting economies like Guyana, Belize, Suriname, the UK is within their top 5 export markets.

The UK is more importantly a main source of tourist arrivals for many Caribbean countries. Some 1.1 million UK tourists visited the Caribbean in 2015, according to the Caribbean Tourism Organisation’s State of the Industry Report in February this year. For those tourism-dependent countries in the Caribbean for which the UK is the major source market, their economic fortunes are tied to the health of the UK economy and strength of Sterling. This was clearly illustrated by the slowdown many tourism-dependent economies in the region suffered while the US and UK economies were in recession during the global economic and financial crisis and during the height of the Air Passenger Duty (APD) saga when British demand for travel to the region fell..

Studies on the impact of Brexit on the UK economy are inconclusive and range the gamut from positive to disastrous. However, the IMF position is clear as seen in its most recent WEO Update Report where it cut its growth projections for the UK from 2.2% to 1.9% in 2016, representing a projected slowdown from the  2.3% growth the UK economy realised in 2015.

In Barbados, British nationals are also an important source of real estate FDI. It was recently reported by local real estate agents in a news broadcast that the softening  in the  value of the Great Britain Pound has dampened demand for Barbadian luxury real estate by British second home buyers and affected the tenuous recovery the island’s second home market was experiencing.

Trade Agreements

There is some disagreement among academics as to the continuity of the UK’s participation in treaties which it signed as part of the EU with third states. These include the Economic Partnership Agreement signed with CARIFORUM states, which is considered a “mixed” treaty under EU law, that is, a treaty under which both the EU and its member states exercised competencies and thus  is concluded by both the EU and its member states. Some posit that the UK can avail itself of the principle of continuity of treaties, which is more likely in a “mixed” treaty than an “exclusive” scenario where the EU has exclusive competence.

However, the principle of continuity actually applies in the context of state continuity and succession and there is no precedent of a scenario like this where a state ceased to be a member of a trading bloc in which capacity it had concluded a treaty. Even if the continuity principle applies, the UK would have to enter into some kind of negotiations with these states if it is to continue to benefit from treaties it signed as part of the EU which still means there will be uncertainty for CARIFORUM exporters and investors. In the worst case scenario, CARICOM or CARIFORUM would have to negotiate a separate agreement with the UK to maintain the level of preferences to the UK market to what they have with the EU under the EPA. As the EU treaties and directives would no longer apply to the UK after the date of entry of the withdrawal agreement, the UK would have the regulatory freedom to set its own standards, such as technical standards and sanitary and phytosanitary standards, which may or may not be as onerous as the EU’s.

Foreign Policy Implications

The UK is most Commonwealth Caribbean countries’ closest ally in Brussels. A British exit would mean the UK no longer has the power to directly influence EU policy and the Caribbean region would lose an important voice to raise and articulate its concerns in regards to the future of EU foreign policy. It is particularly critical now as the EU is contemplating its position on the future framework for cooperation with the countries of the African, Caribbean & Pacific (ACP) Group once the Cotonou Partnership Agreement expires in 2020.

The situation becomes more complicated for UK dependencies in the Caribbean which are not officially a part of the EU but benefit from EU funding and preferences because of their relationship with their mother country, the United Kingdom. A “yes vote” would raise questions about what future relationship they have with the EU.

According to this news report, a  poll by YouGov released on Friday “found support for “In” stood at 40 percent, while 39 percent intended to vote “Out”, 16 percent were undecided and 5 percent did not intend to vote”. Similar to the Scottish independence referendum where polls were close and ultimately the status quo prevailed, my personal view is that despite the growing anti-EU sentiment in the UK, the British people will not vote to leave the EU. Besides the uncertainty a Brexit would portend for the British economy and business, Prime Minister David Cameron was able to secure several sweeping changes from Brussels after two days of negotiations in February and which would go into effect if the “stay vote” wins. 

However, in the event that the “out vote” prevails, it is likely that the UK will negotiate some kind of preferential arrangement, similar to what obtains between the EU and Turkey, given the strong trade and investment ties to the continent. This would ensure UK businesses and exporters are not disadvantaged and still have favourable access to the EU single market once the transition period ends.

The Bottom Line

Brexit would be a risk to Caribbean economies. The nature of the risk would depend on several factors, including the type of withdrawal arrangement the UK negotiates with the EU and the impact on the British economy during the period of transition.

The uncertainty in the UK economy during the post-exit phase could have strong implications for countries like Barbados whose economic fortunes are closely tied to the strength of the UK economy, something which we are already seeing happening to some extent as uncertainty among investors has led to the weakening of Sterling in recent months.  Furthermore, the UK’s exit from the EU would mean uncertainty for Caribbean exporters in the UK market and the loss of the region’s closest ally within the trade bloc at a time when the EU is reconsidering its foreign policy and its post-Cotonou cooperative framework with ACP countries. As such, the Region must brace itself for whatever happens on June 23rd.

Alicia Nicholls, B.Sc., M.Sc., LL.B. is a trade and development consultant with a keen interest in sustainable development, international law and trade. You can also read more of her commentaries and follow her on Twitter @LicyLaw.

IMF trims global growth forecast to 3.2% in 2016

Alicia Nicholls

In the run up to its annual spring meetings in Washington DC  this week, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in its World Economic Outlook released today, has cut its baseline projection for global growth  to 3.2% in 2016 and 3.5% in 2017, down from 3.4% and 3.6%, respectively, in its forecast in the January 2016 WEO Update Report. The title of its latest WEO Report “Too slow for too long” pretty much sums up the sluggish and disappointing pace of global growth post the global economic and financial recession and comes on the heels of the recently released World Trade Organisation’s report in which the WTO cut its forecast for global trade growth yet again.

Noting that the global recovery has weakened further in the midst of turbulence in financial markets, the IMF report highlighted several factors which have hampered global growth including legacies from the global recession and the eurozone crisis, declines in potential growth, the impact of low oil and commodities prices (on oil and commodities exporting countries), currency fluctuations and geopolitical tensions which they assumed to remain elevated in 2016 given the situations in Russia, Ukraine and the Middle East. However, the IMF forecasts the modest eurozone recovery to continue in 2016/17.

Emerging market and developing economies are expected to grow by 4.1% in 2016, compared to 1.9% projected output growth from advanced economies for the same period. While emerging and developing economies will continue to comprise the largest share of global growth in 2016, the IMF forecasts that growth  in these economies will be uneven and weaker than in the previous year as a result of a moderate slowdown in China and a weak outlook for non-oil commodities exporters owing to further softening in commodities prices.

Not unrelated to the slowdown in global trade is the softer global investment demand, particularly in commodities-exporting economies due in part to China’s rebalancing and general uncertainty about global growth.

Caribbean

In regards to the Caribbean, the IMF forecasts real GDP growth of 3.5% (slightly above the global forecast) in 2016 and 3.6% in 2017. However, like the global situation, this growth will be uneven. The expected high flyers are as follows: Dominican Republic which is forecast to grow by 5.4% in 2016, Dominica at 4.9% and St. Kitts & Nevis at 4.7%. Barbados is projected to experience real GDP growth of over 2% in 2016, which is an improvement on the 0.5% growth in 2015 but still below both the global and regional average. Economic output in commodities exporting countries, Suriname and Trinidad & Tobago, is  forecast to contract by 2% and 1.1% respectively in 2016.

Turning to the United States, the Caribbean region’s largest trade partner and one of the beacons of hope in an otherwise still subdued global economy, the IMF cut the United States’ growth forecast to 2.4% in 2016, down from it previous forecast of 2.6%. However, the IMF noted that stronger balance sheets, an improving housing market and better fiscal position would help offset any negative effects on US exports from appreciation of the US dollar, weaker manufacturing and tighter domestic financial conditions in some sectors in the US economy.

In regards to the United Kingdom, a major tourist source market for many Caribbean countries, the IMF projects UK economic output to grow by 1.9% in 2016, down from 2.2% in 2015. The IMF listed Britain’s potential exit from the European Union ‘Brexit’ as one of the main risks to its outlook, noting that such a development would pose major challenges not just for the UK but the rest of Europe. Among the challenges highlighted would be disruption of trade and investment flows, while also increasing financial market volatility due to uncertainty during any post exit negotiations. Brexit is a development which the Region should monitor closely as any negative fall-out the UK’s exit from the EU has on the UK economy could affect countries like Barbados which depend heavily on the British market for tourist arrivals and real estate foreign direct investment inflows.

IMF Recommendations

Stressing that the “current diminished outlook and associated downside possibilities warrant an immediate response”, the IMF has made several recommendations, which are also applicable to the Caribbean. Though citing the importance of accommodative monetary policies, the IMF also stressed the immediate need for such policies to be supported by “other policies that directly boost demand and supply”, including infrastructure investment, public action to encourage of research and development activity, structural reforms in product and labour markets, tax reform and financial reforms.

The full report may be viewed here.

Alicia Nicholls, B.Sc., M.Sc., LL.B. is a trade and development consultant with a keen interest in sustainable development, international law and trade. You can also read more of her commentaries and follow her on Twitter @LicyLaw.

The Movement of Wealth, Transparency, the Right to Privacy…and More

Excellent interview by internationally renowned tax expert, Francoise Hendy, with IFC.

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The Q&A  with me on Page 9 which covers the issues which have been brought into sharp focus by the theft of the ‘Panama Papers’ is set out below:

IFC: As more IFCs sign up to FATCA & the OECD’s Automatic Exchange of Information Standard, do you see a fundamental shift in policy happening in the Caribbean?

Francoise Hendy: Independent Caribbean IFCs have always been pre-disposed to information-sharing. Their comparative advantage in international business and financial services is not grounded in secrecy. The fundamental shift that is taking place is therefore in relation to the methodology of exchanges. For these states, the switching over to automaticity under FATCA and as part of the OECD transparency agenda cannot be considered in a vacuum, but rather as a part of a bigger economic re-orientation because of the exponential cost of compliance even in circumstances where the ‘risk profile’ among these states does…

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