Caribbean Business And Finance Report

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Prime Minister of Barbados, H.E Mia Ammor Mottley gives an address on December 9, 2019, during an ACP summit in Nairobi attended by among other leaders, the new president of the ACP, Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta and his predecessor, outgoing ACP president, the Deputy Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, H.E. Steven Davis. (Photo by TONY KARUMBA/AFP via Getty Images)
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Compiled By NAN Business Editor

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Dec. 20, 2019: Here are some of the top business and finance news making headlines across the Caribbean this week.

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Regional

A Caribbean prime minister believes trade with Africa can help the region with its de-risking problem.

Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley told the ACP summit recently that as Caribbean struggles to respond to de-risking and other challenges in its financial sector, the solutions can be found through closer economic ties with Africa.

Mottley said that this has to be realized by working with private sector companies, even as she acknowledged that the Caribbean and Africa need to address air travel.

Addressing the inaugural business summit of the 79-member African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) recently, Mottley said that the concept of de-risking has come about “because the Canadian banks don’t believe that they are large enough to matter for them to take the time to put systems in place.”

Mottley said that Africa-Caribbean trade links cannot simply be about providing jobs. It has to be also about “economic enfranchisement, creating a basis for ownership among our people because that is the only way it is going to be sustainable.”

“We have to, at some point, determine where we are prepared to reclaim our destiny or not,” Mottley said, adding that leaders must lead “and I hope that is what we are doing now to create the opportunities for you in the business community.”

By The Numbers

The United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean predicts in its annual report that this year’s economic growth in the Caribbean region will remain unchanged at 1.4% amid the impact of fiscal austerity measures and a wider lack of investor confidence.

Goods-producing economies are seeing a slight uptick from 0.8% in 2018 to 1.2% this year, whereas service-producing economies declined marginally to 1.7% from 1.8% last year.

The three fastest growing economies for 2019 were Dominica (9.0%), Anguilla (6.3%) and Antigua and Barbuda (6.2%), as rebuilding efforts of the hurricane-affected islands intensified and tourism recovered.

Guyana

A recent Crisis Group report claims Guyana’s mining region is open to Venezuelan organized crime. The report, titled “Troubled Waters along the Guyana-Venezuela Border,” shines a spotlight on the gold mining village of Etheringbang, in the Essequibo region of western Guyana, according to Insight Crime.

The town is situated on the banks of the Cuyuní River, which both marks the Venezuelan border and represents a key highway for contraband and migration flows between the two states.

The report describes how boats carrying supplies to the Guyanese mines must pass three checkpoints, controlled respectively by the ELN, the sindicatos, and Venezuelan security forces. At each, extortion payments are charged at gunpoint.

Unable to rely on state protection from Guyana’s security, the Guyanese mine owners are resorting to arming themselves through private security contractors, the report said.

Jamaica

Fly Jamaica, the Guyanese-owned carrier, is now seeking bankruptcy protection from its creditors in an attempt to stay in business or find a buyer.

Fly Jamaica trustee, Wilfred Baghaloo, told the Jamaica Gleaner newspaper that the airline had filed for bankruptcy in an attempt to seek protection from its creditors.

According to The Gleaner, Fly Jamaica filed for the bankruptcy protection on   October 29, 2019 and that the airlines is now putting together a proposal that will be put to the creditors to vote on.

Founded in 2013 by Guyana-born Paul Ronald Reece, his wife Roxanne and a group of Jamaican businessmen, the airline aimed to fly between Norman Manley International Airport (KIN) in Kingston, Jamaica and several locations in North America.

BVI

The Government of the British Virgin Island is insisting that contrary to some media reports, it is not in the process of developing or launching its own national cryptocurrency, neither by itself nor in partnership with any other entity, to replace the US dollar with a digital currency.

However, the government said it is positioning the Territory as a hub for digital technology, innovation and entrepreneurship, and in this regard, it has sought to create a welcoming and enabling environment for doing business. A statement also said it wants to ensure that the jurisdiction remains at the forefront of key developments in the fintech arena and has been receiving proposals and expressions of interest from numerous international firms that would like to make the Territory their base of operations, or simply to trade and offer their services in the Territory.

The Government of the British Virgin Islands says it is committed to creating an economic space that embraces modern technology and where residents and businesses retain the freedom to choose how they do business based on their own preferences.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Akerna Corp, a leading cannabis compliance technology provider, and developer of the industry’s first seed-to-sale enterprise resource planning (ERP) software technology, has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire all of the issued and outstanding shares of Canadian-based Ample Organics Inc. in a cash and stock transaction valued at up to $45 million (C$60 million). Ample Organics was selected to deliver the world’s first national cannabis tracking platform in St. Vincent and The Grenadines in 2020. 

USVI

Real Gross Domestic Product for the U.S. Virgin Islands grew 1.5 percent in 2018 after decreasing 0.6 percent in 2017, according to numbers released Tuesday by the V.I. Bureau of Economic Research.

The territory’s growth, while welcome, is smaller than that experienced by the U.S. as a whole, which, excluding territories, saw a real GDP increase of 2.9 percent in 2018 after increasing 2.4 percent in 2017.

Caribbean Diaspora

New York-based company Irie Jam Media said it has retained the services of Mayberry Investments Limited to raise market capital to power the first stage of the company’s global expansion.

Some 25 years ago the entity created history when it executed the very first radio simulcast between New York and Jamaica. Today, with the lion’s share of weekly Caribbean programming on WVIP 93.5 FM in New York City, Irie Jam Media Group has expanded its offering, becoming the loudest voice to the Jamaican/Caribbean community in the USA.

Group founder and CEO Robert “Bobby” Clarke in touting the international expansion has said that the retention of the services of Mayberry will significantly help the company to raise needed funds to offset its mission.

Clarke’s confidence comes from marketplace trends which repeatedly show that there is no shortage of demands by the Diaspora for goods and services from the region, yet when it comes to marketing access there is a dearth of entities offering access over traditional radio.

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