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Caribbean Export hosts FS Ministers meeting

The Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) in collaboration with the government of Barbados convened a meeting on the financial services sector in CARIFORUM at the Radisson Hotel, Barbados earlier this week. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013
Thursday, December 12, 2013

Caribbean ExportBridgetown, Barbados–The Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) in collaboration with the government of Barbados convened a meeting on the financial services sector in CARIFORUM at the Radisson Hotel, Barbados on December 9, 2013.

The meeting of Ministers with responsibility for financial services and key industry professionals was assembled to develop the strategic direction relating to the continued development of the industry, to develop recommendations relating to the governance structure of the regional initiative, and to determine the strategic engagement of the overseas countries and territories in the overall process.

Chaired by Donville Inniss (pictured, top-left), Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development, Barbados, the meeting was convened within the context of the importance of a vibrant financial services industry to the sustained economic development of the region, and the severe challenges facing that industry in light of the global economic crisis.

In particular, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), in which the European Union (EU) plays a key role, has continued to express concerns about the status of regional jurisdictions.

Moreover, CARIFORUM countries remain cognizant of commitments to cooperate on finance issues outlined in the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) especially as it relates to tax policy and administration.

In the opening address, Minister Inniss noted that the financial services sector is the second largest contributor to gross domestic product in the Caribbean region, represented by 17 per cent GDP, and stressed that “when it comes to international financial centres (IFCs) we have no more time to waste. This sector is way too important to our economies and societies.”

Caribbean IFCs have come under increased pressure and scrutiny through a number of developed country led initiatives, such as the Foreign Account tax Compliance Act (FATCA), anti-money laundering standards, tax base erosion and profit shifting and exchange of information standards.

Rudranath Indarsingh (pictured, middle) Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance and the Economy, Trinidad and Tobago, during his opening remarks, stated that they have “intensified efforts to diversify the economy, identified the financial services industry as an attractive and rewarding venture. In this regard, Trinidad and Tobago has signaled the re-launching of the international financial centre by building a financial institutions support services industry.”

“Trinidad and Tobago is working assiduously in finalizing the model intergovernmental agreement (IGA) process before December 31, 2013. Once signed, all foreign financial institutions (FFIs) would automatically be FATCA compliant and included in the appropriate list to be published in December.”

Executive director for Caribbean Export Pamela Coke Hamilton (pictured, top-right) emphasized that “as the global economy evolves, and CARIFORUM states continue to strive for more meaningful integration into the world economy, they will continue to be faced with many challenges.”

“However, the success of the region lies in the ability of the region to enhance its competitiveness and foster a spirit of cooperation; such cooperation requires that the political will is present to provide the support necessary for the private sector to flourish.”

At the 20th Meeting of the Council of Ministers of CARIFORUM, Caribbean Export was identified as the organization charged with providing support to the development of the financial services sector.

Caribbean Export has established the Task Force for the Promotion and Protection of the Caribbean Financial Sector (TFP-CFS) to facilitate the development and continued viability of the industry.

For some perspective on the current state of the stock market, this chart presents the long-term trend of the Russell 2000 (small-cap stocks). As the chart illustrates, the Russell 2000 rallied from late 2002 into the mid-2007 and then effectively gave all of that back during the financial crisis.

Early indications are that domestic economic conditions were relatively subdued in October, although foreign investment-led construction activity continued to secure a modest growth outcome, according to The Central Bank of The Bahamas' Monthly Economic and Developments report for October 2013.

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