Minister of Foreign Affairs and Aviation, the Honourable Mark Brantley is currently in Jamaica for a U.S.-Caribbean Ministerial Dialogue, a Policy Discussion on U.S.- Caribbean Relations, and an important bilateral meeting with his counterpart, Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, taking place at the Pegasus Hotel.
After opening remarks by Senator the Honourable Kamina Johnson-Smith, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Jamaica, who moderated the roundtable meeting, Secretary Pompeo expressed his ninth special visit to the hemisphere reinforces President Trump’s push to deepen the United States’ relationship with the Caribbean, especially, to advance common interests in security, prosperity, development cooperation, and the promotion of democracy and human rights.
He further emphasized President Trump encouraged him to listen to the leaders present at the roundtable and hear about the challenges faced in the region and opportunities for partnership prior to the visit.
During the meeting, Minister Brantley spoke about the difficult time the region is currently facing with the issues of de-risking and blacklisting, coupled with the withdrawal and reduction of correspondent banking.
Minister Brantley highlighted as a response, Caribbean countries have made the necessary legislative and regulatory changes but have still not had this critical issue resolved. Although a matter largely handled through the Treasury Department, Minister Brantley called upon the Secretary of State to advocate on behalf of the region for a solution to this phenomenon, which poses a clear and present danger to Caribbean economies.
The Minister also highlighted the “graduation” of Caribbean countries based on their GDP.
“The reality of Climate Change and the unpredictable weather patterns within the Caribbean region should be an important factor added to the criteria for such a ‘graduation’”, he said. “The gains we have made over the course of our independence could be wiped out in a matter of hours.”
Minister Brantley warned the consequences would then lead to a debt trap, since after such natural disasters, countries are forced to borrow substantial loans, which are not given at concessionary rates, because of their graduated status.
Present at the roundtable were Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Bahamas, Belize, Haiti, Dominican Republic, St. Lucia and Jamaica. Foreign Ministers raised various other issues including regional security, education, youth empowerment, climate change and the strengthening of the OAS.
Minister Brantley is accompanied by Mr. Sheldon Henry, Foreign Service Officer in the Ministry of foreign Affairs.
Bilateral Meeting between Minister Brantley and Secretary Pompeo
In an effort to continue to strengthen and reinforce the longstanding relationship between Saint Kitts and Nevis and the United States of America, the Minister of Foreign Affairs also had a bilateral meeting with his counterpart, Mr. Pompeo.
Highlighting this was the first opportunity the two have had to meet and discuss matters of foreign policy, he thanked the Secretary of State for the invitation, and rew attention to the long, beneficial relationship the two countries have shared since the time of Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of Treasury of the United States of America who was born in Nevis. The Minister recalled the long history of cooperation and mutual respect which have translated into vibrant commercial links, people to people contact and cultural exchanges.
Discussions shifted to the issue of the protracted FinCEN advisory that went into effect May 20, 2014, under the previous Saint Kitts-Nevis and U.S. administrations. Minister Brantley pointed out that this issue is the main outstanding bilateral issue to be resolved and called upon his counterpart to assist in seeing how a positive resolution on the matter could be achieved.
Minister Brantley advocated for CARICOM to be utilized to play a more central role in brokering a successful return to normalcy in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, echoing the CARICOM statement issued in Jan. 2019:
“Heads of Government reaffirmed their guiding principles of non-interference and non-intervention in the affairs of states, respect for sovereignty, adherence to the rule of law, and respect for human rights and democracy.”
Minister Brantley also spoke to the continuing support of Saint Kitts and Nevis to the government and people of the Republic of China (Taiwan), and invited the United States to contain its support for freedom and democracy across the globe.
Both Secretary Pompeo and Minister Brantley underscored the need for continued dialogue and committed to working closely together to advance a stronger and deeper relationship between both countries.