Caribbean Business And Finance Report

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Staff members work at the Jamaica pavilion during the second China International Import Expo in Shanghai, east China, Nov. 5, 2019. The second CIIE kicked off Tuesday at the National Exhibition and Convention Center in Shanghai. (Photo by Jin Liwang/Xinhua via Getty Images)
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News Americas, BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Fri. Nov. 8, 2019: Here are some of the top business and finance news making headlines across the Caribbean this week.

Regional – Economic

The Dominican Republic, the Caribbean’s biggest economy at just under $90 billion in annual GDP and 5 percent growth, is on track to finish the year with the most growth among the Caribbean economies. That’s according to the World Economic Outlook report. Guyana will see growth of 4.4 percent while Jamaica will record 1.1.

Meanwhile, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has asked the region to fully support jurisdictions that are diversifying their economies through the financial services sector.

CDB president Warren Smith called for regional coordination in the international business sector, stating that a private sector-led, regionally coordinated approach can help the Caribbean reap the full benefits. he CDB head also called for the private sector to be more involved in shaping the direction of the IBFS, advising that the private sector had a role to play in policy and strategy development.

Tourism

A study, undertaken by ForwardKeys, the travel analytics firm, has revealed that despite the recent ravages of hurricane Dorian and other huge storms in the Caribbean, tourism will continue to grow. The results of the study were presented at a Caribbean Tourism Organization-organised news conference at World Travel Market this week. But Forward bookings to the top destination in the Caribbean show the Dominican Republic is currently 14.2% behind and those to the Bahamas and Aruba are 6.4% and 1.4% behind, respectively.

This season’s most devastating hurricane, Dorian, which came at the end of August and early September, ravaged the most northerly parts of the Bahamas but left other parts relatively undamaged. The result is that some parts of the country saw a drop in arrivals, where others experienced a significant increase. Travel to Freeport and Marsh Harbour in September fell dramatically, by 50.9% and 67.9% respectively. The impact on Nassau, the capital and the largest airport, was more limited, as arrivals went down by 7.4%. Travel to Georgetown and North Eleuthera was up, 10.6% and 30.7% respectively.

Banking

Scotiabank recently said that it has completed the previously announced sale of its banking operations in Anguilla , Dominica , Grenada , St. Kitts & Nevis , St. Lucia, St. Maarten and St. Vincent & the Grenadines to Republic Financial Holdings Limited (“RFHL”).

The Bank scrapped the sale of its holdings in two Guyana and Antigua and will continue to run the operations for the time being after running into regulatory and political pushback.

“As a result of the decision communicated by the (Eastern Caribbean Central Bank) and the Bank of Guyana, the sale of Scotiabank’s operations in Antigua and Guyana to Republic Bank will not move forward at this time,” a Scotiabank spokesperson told the Financial Post

Guyana

Guyana is set to get its 1st crude lift in February/March 2020. But with oil production expected to begin later this month, ExxonMobil will be getting the first shipment of oil, while Guyana will have to wait until sometime next year. Guyana’s Department of Energy Director, Dr Mark Bynoe, explained this week that the first lift of crude, which is expected to be one million barrels of oil, is likely to contain the most impurities. As such, he said, it was better for ExxonMobil to collect and refine it using their own facilities. There has been much debate over whether Guyana should build an oil refinery and the methods that should be used.

The government had previously hired a consultant, Pedro Haas, to carry out a feasibility study into constructing an oil refinery. The results of the study did not favor building a refinery, particularly one with a capacity to produce over 100,000 barrels per day.

Jamaica

Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness was the lone regional leader present at the opening of the 2nd China International Import Expo (CIIE) at the National Exhibition and Convention Center on Nov. 5th, and was seen alongside China’s President Xi Jinping and  French President Emmanuel Macron.

Jamaica was invited to participate as a “Guest Country of Honor.” At the expo’s opening ceremony in Shanghai on Tuesday, Holness praised Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visionary leadership and foresight to hold such an event even as Chinese Communist Party leaders said they would bring in “national security” legal measures to quell unrest in the territory of Hong Kong.

“The CIIE reflects an inclusive vision for facilitating imports from partner countries,” he said. “It is also a clear demonstration of China’s commitment to strengthen cooperation in global trade and investment and to ensure that all countries and peoples have an opportunity to share in global prosperity. Jamaica very much welcomes this special opportunity to join countries around the world in showcasing our products and services.”

Cuba

Cuba said on Wednesday the country had attracted $1.7 billion worth of foreign investment over the past year despite a tighter U.S. trade embargo and worsening cash crunch, although it did not reach its goal of $2 billion to $2.5 billion annually.

Trade Minister Rodrigo Malmierca told a news conference at Cuba’s annual trade fair in Havana that 25 investment projects had been agreed since October last year, compared with 40 in the same period the previous year worth a lesser $1.5 billion.

Cuba’s Communist government passed a new foreign investment law five years ago and created a special economic zone just west of Havana boasting tax and customs breaks with the hope of attracting more foreign capital to boost its ailing state-dominated economy.

Belize

European Union finance ministers are set to remove the Central American country of Belize from the bloc’s blacklist of tax havens in a meeting this week, an EU document said.

The decision is to be formally adopted on Friday, the document said. Eight jurisdictions are expected to remain on the list. They are: Fiji, Oman, Samoa, Trinidad and Tobago, Vanuatu and the three U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico Sen. Abel Nazario-Quiñones and seven others were arrested and charged in a one-count indictment alleging theft or bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds, W. Stephen Muldrow, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, announced Wednesday.

Nazario-Quiñones was first elected Mayor of Yauco, a municipality in Southwest Puerto Rico, in 2000, and continued to be the mayor until December of 2016.

The other defendants are: Edwin Torres-Gutiérrez, Special Assistant to the Mayor; Claribel Rodríguez-Canchani, Director of Human Resources for the Municipality; Humberto Pagán-Sánchez, Kelvin Ortiz-Vegarra, Ramón Martes-Negrón, Juan Rosario-Núñez, and Eric Rondón-Rodríguez, who were all irregular employees of the municipality under Mayor Nazario-Quiñones.

In August 2016, during a routine audit of the Municipality’s records, the Comptroller’s Office discovered that there were irregular employees paid by the Municipality of Yauco who either never showed up for work, or showed up sporadically, according to the Justice Department’s press release on the case.

Bermuda

Miami International Holdings, Inc., (MIH), the parent holding company of the MIAX®, MIAX PEARL® and MIAX Emerald™ options exchanges (the MIAX Exchange Group™), has acquired a controlling interest in the and the Bermuda Stock Exchange (BSX). This transaction enables both MIH and the BSX the ability to offer innovative products and services on a global scale. The BSX is a fully electronic offshore securities market regulated by the Bermuda Monetary Authority. It specializes in the listing and trading of capital market instruments such as equities, debt issues, funds, hedge funds, derivative warrants and insurance-linked securities. The BSX is a full member of the World Federation of Exchanges and an affiliate member of the International Organization of Securities Commissions. It is recognized as a Designated Offshore Securities Market by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and a Recognized Stock Exchange by UK HM Revenue and Customs.

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