Compiled By NAN Business Editor
News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. May 29, 2020: Here are some of the top business and finance news making headlines across the Caribbean this week.
International ratings agency, S&P, has said that a disproportionately large number of the recent downgrades and negative outlook revisions have been on countries in the Caribbean mainly because, pre-COVID, many were weak.
S&P said in a recent report that many countries did not have the strength to withstand pressures brought about by the pandemic’s impact and as a consequence were downgraded.
“We downgraded or assigned negative outlooks to some Caribbean sovereigns because of a deterioration or potential deterioration in their economic growth prospects, fiscal flexibility, or external position as a result of the pandemic,” S&P said.
Meanwhile, US carrier, JetBlue Airways, has announced tentative plans to restart a number of international flights to the Caribbean next month.
The New York-based airline says it will restart service linking John F. Kennedy International Airport to 11 cities including Cancun; Grenada; Kingston and Montego Bay, Jamaica; Port-au-Prince; Provincials and Turks and Caicos, St. Lucia; and Santiago, Punta Cana, Puerto Plata, and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
The carrier will also bring back service from Fort Lauderdale to Guayaquil, Ecuador; Nassau, Bahamas; Providenciales, Port-au-Prince, and Santo Domingo. Finally, JetBlue will restart service from Orlando to Cancun and from San Juan to Punta Cana.
Meanwhile, ExxonMobil’s CEO on Wednesday said the company has identified opportunities to reduce capital expenditures without compromising project advantages or returns.
Chairman and chief executive officer Darren Woods told shareholders during the company’s annual meeting that the company is managing unprecedented market challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic while preserving long-term shareholder value. He also said the company has identified opportunities to reduce capital expenditures without compromising project advantages or returns.
Woods also provided an overview of ExxonMobil’s performance in 2019, when the company delivered earnings of more than $14 billion, achieved first oil production in Guyana.
Could oil be in Jamaica’s future as well? United Oil and Gas Limited, the minority partner in the hunt for oil in commercial quantities offshore Jamaica, said this week it wants to continue to find a drilling partner despite the exit of Tullow Oil, its major partner in the deal.
The current exploration license held by the two companies is valid until the end of July 2020. Tullow holds an 80 per cent interest in the Walton-Morant exploration project, while United holds 20 per cent. They were seeking a third equity partner to finance the drilling phase of the exploration, under what is referred to in industry terms as the ‘farming out’ of the project.
The Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology assumed oversight of the island’s energy exploration activities.
Antigua & Barbuda
Antigua & Barbuda is looking beyond tourism and to crypto. Antigua and Barbuda’s House of Representatives passed a cryptocurrency regulation bill on May 27, moving towards becoming a digital asset-friendly destination in the Caribbean.
The regulatory framework, called “The Digital Assets Business Bill 2020,” aims to regulate crypto companies that establish their operations on the island and provide protection for both exchanges and their customers.
Among the critical inputs of the bill is the rule that all digital asset businesses in Antigua and Barbuda must obtain a license for “issuing, selling, or redeeming virtual coins,” operating as a payment service or electronic exchange, providing custodial wallet services, among others.
The Bahamas this week indicated that it has applied to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to take advantage of a low-cost, emergency loan facility that is available to all of its member countries. The loan amount is approximately US$252 million and falls within the borrowing authorization approved.
The Cayman Islands’ economy is expected to contract by as much as 12.2% this year, according to Finance and Economic Development Minister Roy McTaggart. The country also has a 19% unemployment rate. If visitors do not return before the end of the year as a result of international economic developments, unemployment is expected to reach almost 20% among Caymanians and the GDP to fall by as much as 12.2%.
Barbados born entrepreneurs, Кеmаr Соdrіngtоn аnd Міkhаіl Еvеrѕlеу, fоundеrѕ оf ОАЅІЅ Lаbоrаtоrу, are making headlines after producing а ѕаrgаѕѕum-bаѕеd ѕkіnсаrе рrоduсt lіnе. Тhеіr соmраnу wаѕ rесеntlу fеаturеd іn аn аrtісlе оn ЅТЕМ Саrіbbеаn’ѕ wеbѕіtе, whісh hіghlіghtеd hоw thе twо сhеmіѕtѕ lаunсhеd thеіr ѕеlf-fundеd vеnturе wіth ѕоmе buѕіnеѕѕ ѕuрроrt frоm UWІ’ѕ Ѕtudеnt Еntrерrеnеurіаl аnd Еmроwеrmеnt Dеvеlорmеnt (ЅЕЕD) рrоgrаm. They hаvе ѕіnсе gоnе оn tо hаvіng twо brаndѕ undеr thеіr umbrеllа соmраnу – ОСЕАN bу ОАЅІЅ, аnd Nаturе’ѕ Меlаnіn – аѕ wеll аѕ а рublісаtіоn саllеd Оlаb Маgаzіnе.
Despite the pandemic, at least one new company is opening in the Dr. Starbuck opened its first store in the Dominican Republic Monday in the Downtown Center shopping center.
“I am very excited to start this new adventure in the Dominican Republic. I invite you to please welcome our partners to the Starbucks family,” Ricardo Rico, vice president and general manager of the store, wrote on the store’s Instagram account. Starbucks for Latin America and the Caribbean.
Guyana this week lifted its second one-million-barrel cargo of crude oil entitlement. The entire transfer process, from entry of the vessel into Guyana’s waters to the completion of the lift, was expected to take between one and three days, which includes the process for testing and transferring of the one million barrels of oil from the Exxon’s Lisa Destiny FPSO to the tanker, which arrived on Tuesday. The lifting process began on Wednesday. Guyana is entitled to five lifts for this year. It is expected that each lift from Liza Destiny will be approximately 1,000,000 barrels as agreed to by government and Exxon and its partners.