By Loshaun Dixon
Federation Minister of Foreign Affairs Mark Brantley pitched regional issues as they relate to ‘de-risking’ and blacklisting to USA Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a meeting in Caribbean summit Kingston, Jamaica this week.
Brantley in a social media post said, “Truly an honour to hold bilateral discussions with US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo today and to discuss matters of mutual interest between St. Kitts Nevis and the United States.”
However in round table discussions with Secretary Pompeo and fellow Foreign Ministers from across the region Brantley highlighted the major Caribbean concern of ‘de-risking’ in the US banking industry.
“One of the concerns we had is de-risking. That is a phenomenon where many of our correspondent banking relationships- most with United States based banks- are withdrawing from the region seeing the region as high risk leading to de-risking.”
Brantley said the practice presents a “grave and present danger” to Caribbean economies. “For example the cruise industry that is largely dominated by US players is at risk if the Caribbean region is unable to do banking.”
He noted if the phenomenon is not arrested the people and the region will be cut off from the international banking sector which will result in the inability to trade and pay for goods and services.
The foreign minister also said he would like to see greater interest by the United States over blacklisting in the region. “The blacklisting phenomenon leads to reputational damage which in turn leads to the threat of de-risking. It runs a risk for derailing the economic gains we have made.
“We would want to draw this to your attention and engage the state department in a meaningful way.”
He also addressed issues of countries be unable to qualify for additional development funds after being told they have hit a Debt to GDP threshold. Brantley said no provision have been put in place for territories that may have been struck by natural disasters.