Photo: OECS. Keeping the CARICOM flag flying. CARICOM leaders are expected to reveal their own plan for fighting international financial crime later this week.

COVID-19 and its impact on the Caribbean Community will be among matters for consideration by CARICOM Heads of Government when they meet via video-conference on Thursday 29 October 2020.

The forty-first Regular Meeting of CARICOM Heads of Government is expected to examine the health, financial and economic development implications of the COVID-19 pandemic.   The discussions will follow the Special Emergency Meetings held by the Heads in May, August and September as part of their efforts to harmonize their responses to and policies on the multifaceted impact of COVID-19.

Thursday’s Meeting will also discuss other major concerns including blacklisting.

CARICOM earlier this month issued a Statement condemning the “ongoing unilateral, arbitrary and non-transparent blacklisting strategy employed by the European Union (EU) against CARICOM Member States”. The Statement noted that along with the unprecedented task of staging a post-COVID-19 economic recovery, the CARICOM States now have the added burden of being subjected to the EU’s “discriminatory tactics disguised as tax policy and governance”.   The Meeting is also expected to address issues related to the regional private sector as well as regional security.

The Heads will have an exchange of views with a Special Guest, the United Nations Secretary-General Mr. Antonio Guterres.  Thursday’s Meeting will be held under the chairmanship of current Chairman of CARICOM, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) press release says that it deplores “the ongoing unilateral, arbitrary and non-transparent blacklisting strategy employed by the European Union (EU) against CARICOM Member States.”

The most recent inclusion of CARICOM States to the blacklist of alleged non-cooperative tax jurisdictions and jurisdictions identified as being deficient in the area of Anti-Money Laundering/Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT), underscores the EU’s unwillingness to take into account the substantial progress made by CARICOM Member States at compliance with global standards.

The Caribbean Community is calling upon the European Union to desist from the practice of blacklisting small states, and instead work together to formulate a united approach to fighting money-laundering and financing of terrorism through corporations registered in small jurisdictions.

The details of what such a united approach would entail are not clear at this time, but perhaps a statement later in the week will reveal exactly what Caricom leaders have in mind and how they plan to combat international financial crime that affects the European Union nations.