Barbados and three other Caribbean Community (CARICOM) states, which were recently blacklisted by the European Union (EU) as non-cooperative tax havens, are getting strong support from the Georgetown-based CARICOM Secretariat.
While receiving France’s new ambassador to the 15-member grouping on Wednesday, CARICOM Secretary General Irwin LaRocque voiced strong objection to the move by the EU, which also affects Grenada, St Lucia, and Trinidad and Tobago.
LaRocque also urged France to leverage its influence with a view to stopping the EU from taking “arbitrary and punitive actions” against the four blacklisted CARICOM states, which, he emphasized, have not been so labelled by the relevant regulatory authorities such as the Financial Action Task Force and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Global Forum.
“This decision by the EU has been based on new and unilaterally-determined criteria, that go beyond the generally accepted international tax transparency and accountability standards which our countries have been diligently meeting over the past several years,” LaRocque said.
“CARICOM strongly objects to this listing of our member states and calls on the EU to remove our member states from this pernicious list,” he added, while noting that the community stood ready to discuss this matter with the European Council.
A major consequence of “blacklisting” was the “de-risking” strategies that included the withdrawal of correspondent banking services by certain international banks, the CARICOM Secretary-General told the French envoy. He said this has had a “detrimental impact on the trade and financial operations” of the region’s economies.
“As Ambassador to the [Caribbean] community, your direct engagement in promoting awareness about the extent of our capabilities and the obstacles we face in our aspirations for economic development is of great significance,” he told the new French envoy.
Minister of International Business Donville Inniss has expressed shock over this country’s blacklisting by the EU and has suggested that his counterparts in Trinidad and Tobago, St Lucia and Grenada are equally surprised and dismayed over their inclusion on the dreaded list.
However, despite this position there is no indication that EU ministers will back down from its position on the blacklisting, which affects 17 global states in total, or the threat of punitive sanctions, even amid feverish behind-the-scenes efforts to get them to change their minds.