Barbados Will Monitor Britain’s Withdrawal From EU
Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, like most people around the world, has expressed surprise at the decision of the British to vote in favour of leaving the European Union. And, Mr. Stuart says the Caribbean would have to wait and see whether the decision to withdraw would have any seismic effects in this region. “In the short term I do not think so, but clearly, given the close relationship between Barbados and the United Kingdom, our heavy dependence on British tourism, and the fact that we have an international business sector that benefits from British investment as well, we have to wait to see what will happen over the medium to long- term. I do not think that in the very short-term that we should become too anxious because the dismantling process is going to take about two years,” he said. The United Kingdom voted in a referendum on Thursday to leave the European Union, with those in favour of remaining being defeated by 52 per cent to 48 per cent. The Prime Minister expressed the view that there would be some currency shocks, but stressed that once those initial shocks had passed, the pound would regain its place. He continued: “I think we have to monitor the situation and if we are required as a result of reverberations felt here in Barbados to make any adjustments and to adapt to any new realities, we should stand ready to do so. But it is not an occurrence which we can afford to ignore. Britain is still a major power in the world and the bilateral relationship is a very strong one, and we therefore have to monitor any potential changes.” Mr. Stuart noted that the United Kingdom had been a part of the European Union for 43 years, and therefore one would have thought that the British would have found it very difficult to make a decision to severe those ties. He stated, however, that the decision had been taken and one had to adjust to that new reality. He said that with the presence of the United Kingdom in the European Union, Caribbean officials were certain that on critical issues they would have a voice on which this region could rely. “To the extent that they are not going to be at the table in the European Union that voice will be missing, although I do not envisage that because the United Kingdom is disengaging from the European Union, that the disengagement will be such that they will have nothing to do with the European Union at all…,” he stated. Mr. Stuart reminded that the Caribbean also had its own experiences with referenda and integration movements. He recalled 1962, when the 10-member Federation in the Caribbean was dismantled after a referendum held in Jamaica. Article compliments BGIS.
UK’s exit from EU a threat to the Caribbean, warns region’s top academic
Vice-Chancellor of the University of the West Indies (UWI) Sir Hilary Beckles has warned the region to brace for the impact of the United Kingdom’s (UK) break with the European Union (EU), as he predicted that every aspect of life in the Caribbean will be negatively affected. The Brexit (British exit) vote last Thursday has already caused ripples across the world, with the value of the pound falling and stock markets dipping among the immediate effects. And Sir Hilary says the region’s fragile economic recovery is now under threat and Britain’s exit should trigger immediate strategic regional reactions, even before Heads of Government meet in Guyana for their July 4 to 6 Summit. “The predictable, highly individualistic action poses both a short-term as well as a long-term threat to the performance of CARICOM economies,” he said in a statement issued yesterday. “From trade relations to immigration, tourism to financial relations, and cultural engagements to foreign policy, there will be a significant redefinition and reshaping of CARICOM-United Kingdom engagements,” Sir Hilary further warned, as he urged CARICOM to use the development to deepen and strengthen its internal operations and external relations with the wider world. “It’s a moment for CARICOM to come closer together rather than drift apart. The region should not be seen as mirroring this mentality of cultural and political insularity, but should reaffirm the importance of regionalism within the global context for the future.” Sir Hilary said the UWI will host a symposium this week to discuss the implications for the Caribbean, with a view to facilitating regional action ahead of the meeting in Guyana. “This UK development should not be taken lightly. It should be fully researched as it constitutes an obvious structural threat to the sustainability of economic institutions in the region,” he said. The top UWI official argued that on reaching the limits of emotional despair over how to manage its post-imperial, ethnic nationalism, and challenged to participate in the global world as an equal partner, the English have retreated to their traditional identity base at the expense of every other consideration. “It has taken this strategic step in order to go forward as old England versus the world. This is a desperate attempt to reinvent a still idealized past in which Englishness is celebrated as a distinct standard not to be entangled or diminished by deep association,” he said. “Those driving the ‘Leave’ agenda knew very well the likelihood of broad-based negative global effects of their option, but chose to jettison external obligations, a critical feature of hyper-conservative, extreme nationalism.” On the heels of the referendum, UK Prime Minister David Cameron announced that he would step down in October. He had urged the country to vote “remain”, but that campaign was defeated 52 per cent to 48 per cent, although London, Scotland and Northern Ireland backed staying in. However, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has suggested the Scottish Parliament could be able to keep Britain from enacting the referendum decision if it withholds legislative consent. Article compliments Caribbean360.com
New Zealand poised to toughen rules for offshore trusts
New Zealand is poised to toughen its disclosure rules for offshore trusts in the wake of the massive data leak known as the “Panama Papers.”, reports the Daily Mail. Tax expert John Shewan on Monday released a report recommending a big increase in the amount of information disclosed when a foreign trust sets up, as well as increased annual reporting requirements and enforcement. Prime Minister John Key said officials need to review the government-commissioned report but he thinks most of the recommendations are reasonable and will be implemented. The issue of offshore companies has been in the spotlight since April, when stories published by the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists detailed how world leaders, celebrities and businesses were using offshore companies to hide money. Public figures came under fire, including Iceland’s Prime Minister David Gunnlaugson, who resigned amid reports he set up a company in the British Virgin Islands that had holdings in Iceland’s failed banks. The stories came after the leak of more than 11 million documents belonging to Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca. The consortium of journalists identified New Zealand as among 21 tax havens used by the Panama firm. Key rejected the characterization of the country as a tax haven but said he was open to making changes. In his report, Shewan said there was no direct evidence of illegal funds being hidden in New Zealand offshore trusts, or of tax abuse, but he thought it “reasonable to conclude” it was happening. Shewan recommended the extra information about the trusts be made available to relevant authorities on a searchable register. He recommended the trusts, which don’t pay annual fees, be charged 500 New Zealand dollars ($354) each year for administration. The opposition Labour Party said the report was a rebuke to Key, who had protected an industry which had damaged New Zealand’s reputation. Article compliments IFC Review.