Antigua and Barbuda’s prime minister Gaston Browne is pleading with Caribbean governments to join forces in resisting the “deceptive acts of economic aggression” being imposed on the region by international bodies.
He explained that while borrowing member states of the Caribbean Development Bank CDB) had to contend with natural disasters that “accentuate” their vulnerabilities, they were also faced with “manmade catastrophes that are mounting”.
Browne, who was addressing the 48th annual meeting of the Board of Governors of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) in Grenada today, pointed to the issue of derisking and threats of sanctions as two of the examples of challenges that the region should collectively fight against.
He said derisking or the severance of correspondent banking relations had resulted in higher cost of doing business, which had adversely affected the region’s global competitiveness.
“At worst, we continue to face the real possibility of being excluded from the world’s trading and financial system. Similarly, we have been coerced into accepting constraints on our capacity to compete in trade in goods and now financial services,” he said.
The Antiguan leader further complained that those who control global trade and financial systems were denying the region the right to compete in financial services, particularly in “differentiated taxation to attract investments”.
“They have sought to deny us a right to operated well-regulated, investor immigration programmes, gaming and offshore banking services, by using the deceptive notion that these industries are harmful to them,” he said.
The Caribbean has had to battle with international bodies and agencies over sanctions and the threat of sanctions over tax laws governing the international business sector.
However, Browne contended that the real threat came from the policies of those establishing “harmful” rules, designed to “keep us in economic dependency”.
“Every niche we seek to establish to diversify our economies and provide for our peoples they conveniently find harmful. The question is, what next? They may soon resolve that our very existence is harmful to them. To the contrary, it is their policies and threats of sanctions that are harmful to our survival. We must collectively resist these deceptive acts of economic aggression against our respective countries,” he warned.
“We in the Caribbean have to seek a more perfect union in our response to these challenges. None of us will overcome them alone. Our only chance is in collective action,” Browne added.
He also reminded his regional colleagues that in order to protect citizens and their countries they should make provision for natural disasters when building their economic, social and environmental resilience plans.
He also urged them to bear in mind the crushing impact of rising oil prices and its ripple effect on commodity prices.