CARIBBEAN BUSINESS AND FINANCE REPORT

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Former President Bill Clinton was in the USVI this week for a Clinton Foundation forum.
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By NAN Business Editor

News Americas, BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Fri. June 7, 2019: Here are the top business stories making news from the Caribbean for the week ending June 7, 2019.

29 NEW PROJECTS FOR RESILIENCY AND DISASTER RECOVERY

This week, President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton convened over 400 leaders from across the Caribbean from business, government, labor, and civil society at the fourth meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Action Network on Post-Disaster Recovery at the University of the Virgin Islands.

At this week’s meeting, 29 new projects that address critical issues such as food security, access to health care, small business support, sustainable tourism, and renewable energy were announced.

They include:

First BanCorp has committed to expand 1Éxito, a program that provides small businesses and entrepreneurs in Puerto Rico with financial education, technical assistance, and mentorship through intensive workshops.

The Government of the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and International Connector have committed to establish the BVI Innovation Lab (IBL) to empower students and entrepreneurs to create meaningful, sustainable innovations to benefit the BVI and the broader region.

Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership (CGEP), in partnership with Club Med and Pan American Development Foundation, have committed to conduct a market and value chain assessment to determine the viability of a smallholder-sourced agribusiness that connects local smallholder farmers to local buyers for selected crops in the Dominican Republic

FarmPod LLC in partnership with the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Agriculture and V.I. Good Food Coalition has committed to installing a vertical aquaponic food production system on the Rudolph Schulterbrandt Agriculture Grounds in St. Croix to promote sustainable agriculture and provide educational opportunities to the community.

Solar Head of State (SHOS) and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) have committed to develop and implement a regional strategy to install 12 photovoltaic power systems and battery energy storage systems on key government buildings in OECS Member States and the OECS Headquarters.

MEBO International has committed to addressing the need for increased medical and disaster preparedness training in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) by providing capacity building for 160 doctors from across the region.

GRENADA

You may soon be able to buy Grenada nutmegs in the US. Chairman of the Grenada Cooperative Nutmeg Association (GCNA), Leo Cato, said this week that Grenada now can exploit the market in the United States, having recently passed inspection by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“What this means is that nutmegs from Grenada purchased through the GCNA can be sold directly to buyers in the USA and this is a market we intend on exploiting so that our farmers can benefit to the maximum,” he added.

Grenada’s nutmeg is currently mainly sold on that European and across Caribbean Community (CARICOM) markets. But it is estimated that more than 500 000 pounds of nutmegs remain unharvested annually.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Dominican Petroleum Refinery (Refidomsa) president Felix Jimenez, has affirmed that six months ago, Venezuela stopped all participation in its management, despite its 49% stake.

Jiménez revealed that the government withholds around US$30 million from the Venezuelan government’s dividends of 2017 and 2018. The official also revealed that the RD$3.0 million monthly paid to the Venezuelan embassy for cultural programs was also suspended.

LIAT

Antigua and Barbuda will be seeking to replace Barbados as the largest shareholder government of regional carrier LIAT. That’s according to Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley, who said in parliament this week that her government plans to sell most of its shares in the cash strapped airline due to the country’s economic situation.

However, she said Barbados would continue to hold minimum shares.

SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES

The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors has approved a US$30 million Development Policy Credit to support Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in strengthening its climate and fiscal resilience for promoting a blue economy.

The program, supported under this Development Policy Credit from the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), will help the Caribbean island to build a more resilient economy by strengthening fiscal policy, promoting more effective public financial management and building buffers to better cope with natural disasters or other economic shocks. It will also support the countries efforts to transition to a blue economy by building on its natural assets and reinforcing climate resilience. For instance, it will support the phase out of coastal sand mining and the implementation of the recently approved National Oceans and National Fisheries policies to strengthen the spatial planning and management of ocean and coastal resources, including fisheries.

USVI

The USVI is looking to tap into the cruise market to Cuba the U.S. Trump administration has upended. With the renewed restrictions on travel to Cuba, Joseph Boschulte, Commissioner of Tourism Designee, said that the Ports of the Virgin Islands has reached out to the cruise lines to offer inconvenienced passengers the opportunity to visit the Territory, including the less busy cruise destination of St. Croix.

Commissioner Designee Boschulte said the Ports of the Virgin Islands will closely monitor the impact of the new policy and explore solutions with cruise lines at next week’s Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association’s Platinum Associate Member Advisory Council Conference, taking place in St. Maarten.

CUBA

Russia says it will provide assistance to Havana in the midst of US sanctions against the island. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov, at a meeting with Vice President of the Cuban Council of Ministers, noted the difficult situation in Cuba because of the US sanctions and pledged Russian help. “We will support you in every way,” he stressed.

Antigua

Digicel has secured an injunction against the government of the nation of Antigua and Barbuda, where it has operated since 2006. The authorities there want to strip Digicel and another operator, Flow, of spectrum used for so-called “4G lite” mobile services, and hand it over to the state-owned telco, Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA).

Digicel claims the move would force it to spend $25 million (€22 million) on rebuilding its network, and it has accused the local government of allowing anti-competitive behavior to “run amok.”

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