Caribbean Business And Finance Report

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Compiled By NAN Business Editor

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Sept. 11, 2020: Here are some of the top business and finance news making headlines across the Caribbean this week.

Regional

Shocking data from a latest Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), report says that the only Caribbean countries to produce more than 50 per cent of their food consumed are Guyana, Haiti and Belize. Other CARICOM countries on average spend more than 50 per cent of the value of their exports on food imports and the share is rising, according to the FAO. The repor says the extremely high dependence on imported food leaves the region highly exposed to shocks in global agriculture commodity prices.

The Caribbean spent some US$4.75 billion on food imports in 2018 and this is forecast to climb further to between US$8-10 billion this year. Experts say development of the local agriculture sector is imperative to boost export earnings capacity and to provide more sustainable jobs for many who may have become displaced or furloughed due to the pandemic. But the report says one of the greatest risks to the Caribbean in terms of boosting the agriculture sector is that of climate change as more frequent and intense weather events have the potential to devastate the entire sector. In fact, it is estimated that the agriculture sector experienced damage of around US$212 million and US$0.5 million for Dominica and Antigua and Barbuda respectively, after the 2017 hurricane season.

Guyana

Exxon Mobil Corp. on Tuesday said it has made its 18th discovery offshore Guyana at the Redtail-1 well, located on the Stabroek Block. According to ExxonMobil, Redtail-1 encountered approximately 232 feet (70 meters) of high-quality oil-bearing sandstone and was drilled in 6,164 feet (1,878 meters) of water. The well is located approximately 1.5 miles (2.5 kilometers) northwest of the Yellowtail discovery, the supermajor noted. This adds to the company’s previous estimate of more than 8 billion barrels of discovered recoverable resources in the area. The news comes as the new government is looking to raise the requirement for local content in employment and procurement of goods and services for offshore oil projects, which could raise those requirements for ExxonMobil, the biggest foreign developer of Guyana’s huge oil resources. Guyana officially joined the ranks of oil-producing nations at the end of December 2019, after Exxon and its partners began oil production offshore the South American country.

Turks & Caicos

Some 4,000 hotel employees in the Turks & Caicos have been laid off, according to Minister of Immigration Vaden Delroy Williams, who was quoted by the TCI Sun. This as hotels such as Beaches, Wymara, Ocean Club, Turks & Caicos Collection have delayed reopening until October, Williams said.

Puerto Rico

“Cervecera de Puerto Rico” announced Medalla Light’s foray into the New York beer market, where more than one million Puerto Ricans reside. The distribution of Medalla Light will begin in the southeast of the state, which includes the counties of New York City (Manhattan), Kings, Queens, Bronx, Richmond, Nassau and Suffolk. It is estimated that 774,000 Puerto Ricans live in this area alone, the highest concentration of Puerto Ricans per square kilometer in the country. Another 100,000 live in New Jersey, across the Hudson River, many of whom visit the Big Apple on a daily basis for work. Cervecera de Puerto Rico is counting for this great project with Union Beer Distributors (UBD), the company that will distribute the product from its headquarters in the trendy Williamsburg neighborhood, in the borough of Brooklyn.

Martinque/Guadeloupe

Air France will soon resume flights between Paris-Charles de Gaulle and both Pointe-à-Pitre (Guadeloupe) and Fort-de-France (Martinique), in addition to flights to and from both destinations from Paris-Orly. In total, up to three flights will be operated daily between Paris and each of the two islands in the French Caribbean.

The Air France flight schedule as from December 17, 2020 is as follows:

To/from Pointe-à-Pitre (Guadeloupe) – 21 weekly direct flights:

Air France Boeing 777-300ER. C

17 weekly direct flights to Paris-Orly

4 weekly direct flights to Paris-Charles de Gaulle on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays

To/from Fort-de-France (Martinique) – 19 weekly direct flights:

16 weekly direct flights to Paris-Orly

3 weekly direct flights to Paris-Charles de Gaulle on Mondays, Fridays and Sundays

Nevis

FirstCaribbean International Bank Ltd. (CIBC) will close its Nevis branch on November 30th, leading to the layoff of nine members of staff. It has not yet been made clear how the bank will service its clientele in Nevis. In November 2019, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) announced it was selling two-thirds of its shares in its Caribbean entity, FirstCaribbean International Bank Limited, to GNB Financial Group Limited.

In recent years there has been an exodus of Canadian banks from the Caribbean region.  In December 2019, Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) announced its intention to sell its banking operations in the Eastern Caribbean. Also, in 2019, the Bank of Nova Scotia completed the sale of much of its stake in the Eastern Caribbean to the Republic Bank, based in Trinidad.

Cayman Islands

According to the Reserve Bank of India data, FDI from Cayman Islands jumped 305 per cent to $3.49 billion during 2019-20, as against $863 million in the previous year, thus becoming the fourth largest FDI contributor to India. FDI from Cayman Islands, one o the most popular tax havens, in 2017-18 was $ 1.14 billion and $ 49 million in 2016-17.

Dutch Caribbean

Money could run out in October for Dutch Caribbean territories of Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten if funds are not received from the Dutch government. But the Dutch government says it is willing to help, but only if the islands accept temporary Dutch administrators to manage reforms. The Dutch argue the islands have time and again fallen short of their commitments, and appointing Dutch administrators is the only way to guarantee the reforms will be made. But for most of the Caribbean politicians, this goes too far. Negotiations continue.

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