Caribbean Business And Finance Report

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Antigua PM and Congresswoman Maxine Waters in D.C. recently. (Antigua Observer image)
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News Americas, BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Weds. Nov. 27, 2019: Here are some of the top business and finance news making headlines across the Caribbean this week.

Regional

Several Caribbean leaders recently met with US Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Chair of the United States House of Representatives Financial Services Committee, to discuss the region’s financial services and specifically correspondent banking that is impacting the region.

Prime Minister of Saint Lucia, Allen Chastanet, Prime Minister Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda, Minister Dale Marshal from Barbados, Minister Stuart Young from Trinidad and Tobago, and Secretary General of CARICOM, Ambassador H.E. Irwin LaRoque attended the meeting on Nov. 20th.

Senior Bankers from six major U.S. Banks also met with the delegation. Representatives of the U.S. banks expressed a keen interest in overcoming the challenges posed by a regulatory environment in which banks are conscious, in their decision-making, of the severe penalties for incidents of money laundering and terrorism financing. 

“Congress is very interested in understanding how the correspondent banking and de-risking has impacted us in the region,” Chastanet said after the meeting. “I will highlight that while we all support the goals of de-risking there has been substantial negative impacts on us in this region which also will affect the US.”

Caribbean Solar

Latin America and the Caribbean could grow their installed solar capacity by a factor of 40 by 2050, a new report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) shows. Annual investmens exceeding seven billion would see the region’s solar PV capacity rise from 7 gigawatts (GW) today, to more than 280 GW by mid-century. While solar energy remains the highest in Asia, North America and Europe, market growth is set to shift to other regions in the world.

By that time, solar PV would represent the second-largest power source behind wind, generating a quarter of the world’s power, “Future of Solar Photovoltaic” launched recently at “Sun World 2019” in Lima finds. In total, global solar power capacity would rise from 480 GW in 2018 to over 8000 GW by 2050, growing by nearly 9 per cent every year.

Caribbean Airlines

Regional airline carrier, Caribbean Airlines, has reported its unaudited summary financial results for January – September 2019, which show the airline continues to achieve an operating profit.

The unaudited results for the nine months ending September 2019 show Earnings before Interest and Taxes (EBIT) of TT$121m, comprising of TT$153m on international and other operations, and negative TT$32m on the Domestic Air-Bridge, between Trinidad and Tobago. Revenue for the period was TT$2.3bn, up 3.8%.

Guadeloupe/Martinique

The results of a parliamentary commission of inquiry into the use of the carcinogenic pesticide chlordecone in the Guadeloupe and Martinique show that the French government “consistently failed” to respond to environmental and health warnings over two decades.

Chlordecone is a toxic pesticide that was used to treat bananas. It was classified as carcinogenic by the World Health Organisation in 1979. The US imposed a ban two years earlier, but it took until 1990 for France to impose a ban on chlordecone. Planters in the French Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique were allowed to continue using chlordecone until 1993.

Justine Benin, the head of the parliamentary commission is recommending that compensation be paid to agricultural workers and fishermen whose livelihoods have been significantly curtailed by the use of chlordecone.

Benin is also calling for a proposed bill that would pay compensation to people who have fallen ill to be strengthen before it is voted on in parliament in 2020.

The Commission has recommended that an in depth scientific study be conducted that focuses both on possible preventative measures, and surveys the extent of the damage caused by chlordecone.

Antigua

Gambling business mogul and Bitcoin SV proponent Calvin Ayre has just opened a decadent new headquarters on the island of Antigua. Ayre describes the new building as being the home of Bitcoin SV in the Caribbean. The five-storey building, called Canada Place, will be “home for various pioneering technologies,” the iGaming entrepreneur said. In a post to Twitter, Ayre stated that one of these pioneering technologies would be Bitcoin SV. Ayre described the building as a “$40 million investment into the Antiguan economy.”

Ayre was indicted of the region of Maryland US Attorney back in 2012 for violating US statutes and promoting neighborhood players with online gambling providers through the Bodog brand that is iGaming got receive himself.

USVI

$1.6 billion plan to refurbish a long-idled oil refinery in St Croix in the USVI is about 75% complete and could begin delivering fuel supplies early next year, company and government officials said this week. The Limetree Bay Refining project is a bet on demand for low-sulfur fuels to meet a Jan. 1 global mandate for ocean-going vessels cut air pollution. The St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, venture is run by private equity and commodity trading firms with oil major BP Plc (BP.L) providing crude oil and marketing the plant’s output.

Once restarted, the plant will be able to process up to 210,000 barrels per day of oil, a fraction of the 1,500-acre (607-hectare) plant’s peak capacity in the 1970s of 650,000 bpd.

Aruba

Ingram Micro this week became an authorized distributor of federal government-focused wireless networking products from Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company. The company said will make it easier for solution providers to bring secure networking to government clients. Ingram Micro has worked with Aruba for about seven years. The distributor in November 2018 introduced the Aruba Go program to help recruit and on-board partners, and in the last year has brought on over 900 partners into the program, include 200 that are net-new to Aruba.

Curacao

Curaçao Marriott Beach Resort recently reopened after undergoing a $40 million renovation financed by Piscamar Beach Resort B.V. Managed by Aimbridge Hospitality, the 336-room hotel is positioned on six acres of oceanfront real estate overlooking the Caribbean Sea.

The redesigned space is aimed at becoming the ultimate Caribbean destination for the active traveler who enjoys diving and swimming, alongside relaxing and enjoying the Caribbean island’s famous tropical weather, according to hotel executives.

Trinidad

In recent decades, Trinidad and Tobago has made significant progress to diversify its economy and ensure fiscal stability, but it still needs to improve its productivity levels and boost a low emission economy, a diagnosis shared with most countries in Latin American and the Caribbean.

That was one of the main conclusions reached by a group of international experts gathered in Port of Spain, at an event held by CAF –Development Bank of Latin America- as part of its 50th anniversary celebration activities.

Alvin Hilaire, Governor of the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago, said that before implementing public policies on productivity and innovation it is necessary to have true data. He also pointed at workers’ education and skills as the key factor in boosting productivity and business performance.

Jamaica

The American Friends of Jamaica’s, (AFJ), 2019 Grant Application Cycle runs through February 7, 2020. The grant process life cycle begins with funding opportunities for organizations registered under the Jamaica Charities Act. The AFJ Grants Committee will evaluate each and make a decision while notifications will be sent to awardees and the awards will be presented. Applications are reviewed once per year; awards are announced in March and presented in April.

Interested organizations should visit http://theafj.org/grants/ to see all necessary requirements. Applicant entities must demonstrate clear and compelling charitable goals, established governance structure, sound financial management capability and measurable targets for implementation. All further questions can be directed to grants@theafj.org.

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