Caribbean Business News Round-Up

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Barbados is now defending a UK media report that its moving to become ‘Little China’ as it transitioned to a Republic and Prince Charles, Prince of Wales was on hand to witness and celebrate the hand over to new President Dame Sandra Mason (in green) in Bridgetown, Barbados. (Photo by Ian Vogler – Pool/Getty Images)

Compiled By NAN Business Editor

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Dec. 3, 2021: Here are some of the top Caribbean business news headlines this week.

REGIONAL

Guyana’s President is urging Caribbean Community, (CARICOM), countries to implement decisions aimed at deepening the regional integration movement.

Addressing the President’s Dinner and Awards Ceremony of the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturing Association (TTMA), President Irfaan Ali said there is need for the region to collaborate and create new business prospects, not only for Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago, but for CARICOM as a whole.

He told the manufacturers that he wanted to address issues surrounding the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) that allows for the free movement of goods, skills, labour and services within the region “once we are willing to break down barriers, once we are willing to take ownership of this common economic space in CARICOM.”

He said it was important for the region to work towards a “strategic plan in realising the opportunities that exist here in CARICOM.”

The comment from Ali comes as Guyana completed the fifth lift of crude oil from the Liza Destiny Floating Production, Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel in the prolific Stabroek Block, representing the country’s final lift for this year.

Guyana Natural Resources Minister, Vickram Bharrat said the lift of 1,043,289.542 barrels of oil now brings Guyana’s total oil lifts for year 2021 to approximately 5.1 million barrels of high-quality Liza crude. He said that this now brings the total oil lifts since first oil in 2019 to nine.

BARBADOS

The Barbados government advisor on Investment, Professor Avinash Persuad, has dismissed as “much innuendo and falsehood” reports in the British media regarding the island’s relationship with China.

The Sunday Times in a story headlined “How Barbados went from Little England to Little China,’ sought to explain how the island became ‘awash’ with cash from Chinese President, Xi Jinping. It reported also that less than 2.5 per cent of Barbados’ external debt is owed to Chinese creditors.

The newspaper reported several Chinese workers were present here as well as, Chinese-manufactured buses, a handful of Chinese-built houses. It also made reference to planned refurbishments to the decrepit national stadium, upgrades to the south coast sewage system and plans to erect Chinese-made prefab houses for those who lost their homes during the passage of Hurricane Elsa.

But Persaud told the online publication, Barbados TODAY that less than BDS$300 million (One Barbados dollar=US$0.50 cents) of the country’s BDS$13.5 billion debt bill, is held by the Chinese.

And that American institutional investors hold more than five per cent or twice as much of the debt, which Persaud doubts will fluctuate significantly.

Barbados became a Republic on November 30th, removing Britain’s Queen Elizabeth as its head of state.

BAHAMAS

The Central Bank of the Bahamas (CBB) says the domestic economy continued a gradual pace of recovery during the month of October, despite the ongoing spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that has killed 671 people and infected 22,763 others since March last year.

In its Monthly Economic Financial Development (MEFD) report, the CBB said that tourism output maintained its strengthening, undergirded by gains in the high value-added air segment and uptick in sea traffic, reflecting sustained progress in vaccination efforts, both locally and internationally.

ST. LUCIA

The St. Lucia government is to establish a task force to help in improving the quality of the bananas shipped to the United Kingdom amid concerns that new contracts for the sale of the island’s fruits in Europe may not be forthcoming.

Agriculture Minister, Alfred Prospere, who led a delegation to the United Kingdom to discuss the situation with stakeholders, said that the poor quality of bananas exported to the European country has prompted a warning that supermarkets and other buys may not renew a contract next year unless there’s an improvement.

Fyffes plc, the Japanese-owned fruit and fresh produce company headquartered in Dublin, had written a letter to banana officials there complaining about the poor quality of the fruit exported to the United Kingdom from St. Lucia.

ANTIGUA & BARBUDA

The Antigua and Barbuda government has given former pilots with the cash-strapped airline, LIAT, a deadline to accept the proposals regarding outstanding severance payments owed to them even as the employees continue to express disappointment at the way the matter is being handled.

Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance, Lennox Weston, has told the Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association (LIALPA) that they have just one month to make up their minds about the latest 50 per cent compassionate payment offer made by the Gaston Browne government.

Weston warned that if the situation is not resolved by the new year, the benefits will not equal the 50 per cent currently being offered. The airline had laid off an estimated 90 per cent of its staff last year as part of a restructuring exercise and has resumed operations on a much smaller scale.

President of the Dominica-based Waterfront and Allied Workers Union (WAWU), Donald Rolle, said that the regional unions are united in seeking the millions of dollars owed to the workers and have rejected the latest offer from the shareholder governments.

TRINIDAD & TOBAGO

The Trinidad and Tobago government has launched a multi-million dollar innovative programme aimed at building a more innovative and competitive economy through economic diversification.

Planning and Development Minister, Camille Robinson-Regis said that the US$10 million “Shaping the Future of Innovation,” programme is being undertaken in collaboration with the European Union (EU), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (CARIRI).

ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES

The World Bank is providing US$40 million for the Volcanic Eruption Emergency Project in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The Washington-based financial institution said that the project is also financed by a two million US dollar grant from the European Union’s Caribbean Regional Resilience Building Facility, managed by the World Bank’s Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery. In April this year, the La Soufrière volcano experienced explosive eruptions that damaged critical services, infrastructure, and agriculture, affecting the entire population of the island of St Vincent.