By Loshaun Dixon
Basseterre, St. Kitts-The Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis has been removed from being blacklisted by three countries in the European Union (EU), and Foreign Affairs Minister the Hon. Mark Brantley is crediting the work from his ministry over the past two years for the delisting.
In 2015 several Caribbean countries were placed on a list of international tax havens as part of the EU’s crackdown on multinational companies avoiding taxes within the union.
The EU list featured Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Grenada, Montserrat, Panama, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Turks and Caicos, US Virgin Islands and St Kitts and Nevis.
Mr. Brantley Speaking on Tuesday at a government town hall revealed that of the 10 countries that had blacklisted the Federation three had already removed that status.
“As you are aware St. Kitts and Nevis through no fault of our own, we were blacklisted by 10 nations within the European Union and as a consequence of that we moved onto what was called an EU blacklist?. We have been fighting and engaging and the dialogue has been quite intense to seek to get us de-listed,” he said.
“I’m very proud to report to the nation that three of those countries Estonia, Italy and Greece, have agreed to remove us from their blacklist.”
Brantley also highlighted the achievements of the Ministry since he took office as he aimed to expand the diplomatic footprint of St. Kitts and Nevis.
In the last two years St. Kitts and Nevis have established relations with Belarus, Bolivia, Croatia, Cyprus, Dominican Republic, Kenya, Kosovo and Maldives among others.
“During those two years we established diplomatic relation with 13 new countries,” he added.
He said another of the aims is to try and make it easier for people of St. Kitts and Nevis to travel around the world.
“When you present your passport of St. Kitts and Nevis there should be no impediment for your travel. So we have embark on journey in engaging in what we call reciprocal visa waiver arrangements with various countries,” he said.
He said this type of arrangements has a value.
“How passports are treated they are ranked and one of the indicators of your ranking is how many countries you can visit without a visa,” he said.
“We were at one point fourth in the region in terms of ranking…I can now say confidently with the effort we put in in the last two years we have leapfrogged Antigua and very soon we will have the strongest and most popular in the entire Caribbean region.”
Brantley also disclosed the establishment of consulates in two new countries with more set to be announced in the near future.
“I’m also to report that as we expand our diplomatic footprint across the globe, your Unity Government has seen it fit to establish consulates recently in Bermuda and Vietnam, and we will continue. We have the Philippines and others that we are looking at in order to ensure that if by some chance that you as a citizen of St. Kitts and Nevis end up in any of these places… you have a consulate there to take care of your needs,” he declared.