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Caribbean Business And Finance Report

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News Americas,
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Fri. Nov. 8, 2019:
Here are some of
the top business and finance news making headlines across the Caribbean this
week.

Regional – Economic

The Dominican Republic, the Caribbean’s biggest economy at just under $90 billion in annual GDP and 5 percent growth, is on track to finish the year with the most growth among the Caribbean economies. That’s according to the World Economic Outlook report. Guyana will see growth of 4.4 percent while Jamaica will record 1.1.

Meanwhile,
the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has asked the region to fully support
jurisdictions that are diversifying their economies through the financial
services sector.

CDB
president Warren Smith called for regional coordination in the international
business sector, stating that a private sector-led, regionally coordinated approach
can help the Caribbean reap the full benefits. he CDB head also called for the
private sector to be more involved in shaping the direction of the IBFS,
advising that the private sector had a role to play in policy and strategy
development.

Tourism

A
study, undertaken by ForwardKeys, the travel analytics firm, has revealed that
despite the recent ravages of hurricane Dorian and other huge storms in the
Caribbean, tourism will continue to grow. The results of the study were
presented at a Caribbean Tourism Organization-organised news conference at
World Travel Market this week. But Forward bookings to the top destination in
the Caribbean show the Dominican Republic is currently 14.2% behind and those
to the Bahamas and Aruba are 6.4% and 1.4% behind, respectively.

This
season’s most devastating hurricane, Dorian, which came at the end of August
and early September, ravaged the most northerly parts of the Bahamas but left
other parts relatively undamaged. The result is that some parts of the country
saw a drop in arrivals, where others experienced a significant increase. Travel
to Freeport and Marsh Harbour in September fell dramatically, by 50.9% and
67.9% respectively. The impact on Nassau, the capital and the largest airport,
was more limited, as arrivals went down by 7.4%. Travel to Georgetown and North
Eleuthera was up, 10.6% and 30.7% respectively.

Banking

Scotiabank
recently said that it has completed the previously announced sale of its
banking operations in Anguilla , Dominica , Grenada , St. Kitts & Nevis ,
St. Lucia, St. Maarten and St. Vincent & the Grenadines to Republic
Financial Holdings Limited (“RFHL”).

The
Bank scrapped the sale of its holdings in two Guyana and Antigua and will
continue to run the operations for the time being after running into regulatory
and political pushback.

“As
a result of the decision communicated by the (Eastern Caribbean Central Bank)
and the Bank of Guyana, the sale of Scotiabank’s operations in Antigua and
Guyana to Republic Bank will not move forward at this time,” a Scotiabank
spokesperson told the Financial Post

Guyana

Guyana
is set to get its 1st crude lift in February/March 2020. But with oil
production expected to begin later this month, ExxonMobil will be getting the
first shipment of oil, while Guyana will have to wait until sometime next year.
Guyana’s Department of Energy Director, Dr Mark Bynoe, explained this week that
the first lift of crude, which is expected to be one million barrels of oil, is
likely to contain the most impurities. As such, he said, it was better for
ExxonMobil to collect and refine it using their own facilities. There has been
much debate over whether Guyana should build an oil refinery and the methods
that should be used.

The
government had previously hired a consultant, Pedro Haas, to carry out a
feasibility study into constructing an oil refinery. The results of the study
did not favor building a refinery, particularly one with a capacity to produce
over 100,000 barrels per day.

Jamaica

Jamaica’s
Prime Minister Andrew Holness was the lone regional leader present at the
opening of the 2nd China International Import Expo (CIIE) at the National
Exhibition and Convention Center on Nov. 5th, and was seen alongside
China’s President Xi Jinping and  French
President Emmanuel Macron.

Jamaica
was invited to participate as a “Guest Country of Honor.” At the expo’s opening
ceremony in Shanghai on Tuesday, Holness praised Chinese President Xi Jinping’s
visionary leadership and foresight to hold such an event even as Chinese
Communist Party leaders said they would bring in “national security” legal
measures to quell unrest in the territory of Hong Kong.

“The
CIIE reflects an inclusive vision for facilitating imports from partner
countries,” he said. “It is also a clear demonstration of China’s commitment to
strengthen cooperation in global trade and investment and to ensure that all
countries and peoples have an opportunity to share in global prosperity.
Jamaica very much welcomes this special opportunity to join countries around
the world in showcasing our products and services.”

Cuba

Cuba
said on Wednesday the country had attracted $1.7 billion worth of foreign
investment over the past year despite a tighter U.S. trade embargo and
worsening cash crunch, although it did not reach its goal of $2 billion to $2.5
billion annually.

Trade
Minister Rodrigo Malmierca told a news conference at Cuba’s annual trade fair
in Havana that 25 investment projects had been agreed since October last year,
compared with 40 in the same period the previous year worth a lesser $1.5
billion.

Cuba’s
Communist government passed a new foreign investment law five years ago and
created a special economic zone just west of Havana boasting tax and customs
breaks with the hope of attracting more foreign capital to boost its ailing
state-dominated economy.

Belize

European
Union finance ministers are set to remove the Central American country of
Belize from the bloc’s blacklist of tax havens in a meeting this week, an EU
document said.

The
decision is to be formally adopted on Friday, the document said. Eight
jurisdictions are expected to remain on the list. They are: Fiji, Oman, Samoa,
Trinidad and Tobago, Vanuatu and the three U.S. territories of American Samoa,
Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Puerto Rico

Puerto
Rico Sen. Abel Nazario-Quiñones and seven others were arrested and charged in a
one-count indictment alleging theft or bribery concerning programs receiving
federal funds, W. Stephen Muldrow, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto
Rico, announced Wednesday.

Nazario-Quiñones
was first elected Mayor of Yauco, a municipality in Southwest Puerto Rico, in
2000, and continued to be the mayor until December of 2016.

The
other defendants are: Edwin Torres-Gutiérrez, Special Assistant to the Mayor;
Claribel Rodríguez-Canchani, Director of Human Resources for the Municipality;
Humberto Pagán-Sánchez, Kelvin Ortiz-Vegarra, Ramón Martes-Negrón, Juan
Rosario-Núñez, and Eric Rondón-Rodríguez, who were all irregular employees of
the municipality under Mayor Nazario-Quiñones.

In
August 2016, during a routine audit of the Municipality’s records, the
Comptroller’s Office discovered that there were irregular employees paid by the
Municipality of Yauco who either never showed up for work, or showed up
sporadically, according to the Justice Department’s press release on the case.

Bermuda

Miami
International Holdings, Inc., (MIH), the parent holding company of the MIAX®,
MIAX PEARL® and MIAX Emerald™ options exchanges (the MIAX Exchange Group™), has
acquired a controlling interest in the and the Bermuda Stock Exchange (BSX).
This transaction enables both MIH and the BSX the ability to offer innovative
products and services on a global scale. The BSX is a fully electronic offshore
securities market regulated by the Bermuda Monetary Authority. It specializes
in the listing and trading of capital market instruments such as equities, debt
issues, funds, hedge funds, derivative warrants and insurance-linked
securities. The BSX is a full member of the World Federation of Exchanges and
an affiliate member of the International Organization of Securities
Commissions. It is recognized as a Designated Offshore Securities Market by the
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and a Recognized Stock Exchange by UK
HM Revenue and Customs.

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