Caribbean Business News Round-Up

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The Caribbean economy is feeling the brunt of the pandemic economically as Cuban investigators have centered in the task of developing the first vaccine against COVID-19 conceived and produced in Latin America. (Photo by YAMIL LAGE/AFP via Getty Images)
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By NAN Business Editor

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Jan. 21, 2021: Here are the top headlines making Caribbean business news this week:

REGIONAL

The tourism sector of the Caribbean has suffered yet another major blow after European, US and Canadian government put new rules in place for travel to the Caribbean, including bans on some nations and new COVId-19 negative test rules that apply to all re-entering the US, including visitors, US citizens and residents.

The new rules and travel ban could impact the region economies of the nations of the Caribbean, which has already been crippled by COVID-19. But some analysts said it could push governments to finally diversity their economies including to embrace and fast track the rapidly growing marijuana sector in their specific countries.

Meanwhile, the Board of Governors of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has elected Dr. Hyginus ‘Gene’ Leon to serve as the next President of the multi-lateral institution.

His appointment will become effective on May 1, 2021. He will succeed Dr. Warren Smith who has been at the helm of the regional financial institution for the last 10 years.

TRINIDAD & TOBAGO

The government of Trinidad & Tobago has given the company Patriotic Energies and Technologies  a second extension to prove its ability to purchase the Pointe-a-Pierre oil refinery.

Finance Minister Colm Imbert, in his capacity as corporation sole, said the government has granted Patriotic a 15-day deadline to secure financing for the refinery. His announcement came after a previous statement alluded to an inability by Patriotic to secure the US$500 million financial commitment to purchase the refinery – a claim the company has denied.

JAMAICA

Stakeholders in the manufacturing and export sectors are optimistic that the economy will begin to rebound by September and are ready to invest in expanding their output. President of the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA), Richard Pandohie, says that more than 40 per cent of the JMEA’s members believe that the economy will start to show recovery by the end of the third quarter of 2021. He added that more than 33 per cent have indicated that they will increase spending to boost production.

GUYANA

The South American nation of Guyanacontinues to prove that its agricultural wealth stretches beyond rice and sugar, with non-traditional agricultural produce raking in over US$12.2 million (G$2.5B) in 2020. This was earned from the export of more than 9,000 tonnes of non-traditional agricultural produce, which included grain crops, oil seeds, root and tuber crops, vegetables and “greens,” spices and seasonings and a wide variety of fruits. Dried coconut was the most exported product, accounting for 8,217 metric tonnes of total exports and earning over $1.6 billion.

4 Caribbean Tech Startups To Watch

ChefMade

ChefMade, an online meal prep and delivery service in Trinidad & Tobago, has seen steady growth since it launched in 2018 by making good on its promise to make healthy eating enjoyable and easily accessible and their business soared in the pandemic.

MDLink Limited

MDLink is offering online medical consultations. Based in Jamaica and offering services throughout the Caribbean region, the telemedicine platform has been connecting patients with doctors virtually since 2017. As shelter-in-place orders swept across the region MDLink experienced a significant increase in doctor registrations and its patient database quadrupled to 25,000 in a matter of months.  

WiPay

The mass online migration of businesses resulted in an exponential increase in transactions for Caribbean online payment platform, WiPay. WiPay saw an exponential rise in sign-ups due to the pandemic, recording increases as high as 200 per cent in some of its newer markets.

DROP Caribbean

In-house dining restrictions during the pandemic’s early months caused restaurants and diners alike to flock to Trinidad & Tobago-based food delivery service, DROP Caribbean. The app saw its numbers skyrocket in Q2 as its service naturally met the demands of restaurants desperate to keep their kitchens open, even as their dining rooms remained closed.