We need a level playing field, says PM Stuart

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart says there is pressing need for the relationship between the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the United States to be revisited.

Speaking during the just-ended, one-day CARICOM-US Summit in Jamaica, which was attended by US President Barack Obama, Stuart zeroed in on the challenges facing rum, which is one of the region’s most significant exports to the US market.

“This results from the use of the cover-over revenue by US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, US territories, to provide trade-distorting subsidies to rum producers in those territories,” he explained.

The Prime Minister also expressed fear on behalf of CARICOM that “the information exchange agreements of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act of the United States, while justifiable on the grounds of revenue protection and enhancement, may not be applied evenly in respect of the right of access of the US to information as against the exercise of a similar right by our jurisdictions”.

He further pointed out that trade in services, which contributes over 60 per cent of the economic output in CARICOM member states, was still not covered under the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) arrangements, even though regional stakeholders have been actively lobbying different branches of the US Government and potential private sector partners for its inclusion.

Addressing the topic Competitiveness/Prosperity, Stuart argued that competitiveness was neither alien to the region’s experience nor challenging to its capacities.

“Indeed, whenever the playing field has been level and the rules have been fairly applied, the people of the Caribbean have shown the extent of their abilities and the measure of their daring,” he said.

“When we engage you therefore, it is not as elegant nuisances, or angry and dejected suppliants ringing the doorbell or banging on the door of the United States of America. We engage you as people who have a view of the world, based on our experiences, from which we think that your country and others, over which it has influence, can benefit.

“We compete effectively when the playing field is level, but when it is not, our people reserve the right to make their concerns known and to advocate for a more sensitive and a more rational reordering of the world’s business,” he added.

However, the Prime Minister stressed that the region’s situation could not be divorced from the economic and political conduct of those countries and institutions with which it had to do business.

“It is not states like ours here in the CARICOM region that can impose the GDP per capita measure by which small and still vulnerable countries are graduated from access to concessional financing, both from larger and more powerful countries and from the international financial institutions which they control.

“Likewise, the small states of CARICOM have never had clout enough to determine the behaviour of those correspondent banks whose not too veiled threats now confront the financial sector in our countries with the prospect of certain, but, we hope, not too imminent collapse. And this has not been the only threat with which we have had to deal. As offshore jurisdictions, our International Financial Services Sectors have been forced to defend themselves insistently, consistently and persistently, against the labelling of our domiciles as “tax havens” with all the pejorative connotations attached to that expression. This, in addition to change after change in the rules that apply to our jurisdictions,” he added. (BGIS/)

7 Responses to We need a level playing field, says PM Stuart

  1. MariaMaria Angel
    MariaMaria Angel April 11, 2015 at 11:29 pm

    Wonder how much that trip to Jamaica cost? BDS 15 million? Yah know wanna so does have to travel with an entourage.

  2. Jus me April 12, 2015 at 8:33 am

    WORRY about the cost??!!!
    Freundel master of the GRANDIOSE!!
    Get real.

    Like how often do he get to KISS ASS to the PRES I DENT of the US of A.

    I am equally sure PRES I DENT OBAMA listened VERY carefully to the Default PM of our FLYSPECK in the Ocean ; Island.
    Gimmee a brek.

  3. Alex Alleyne April 12, 2015 at 9:15 am

    Start with getting a “level playing field” between CARICOM nation first . Most of them are sockin’ it to Barbados and you ain’t saying a word . (Take them all to the CCJ and see if we can get some positive action).

  4. Rawle Spooner
    Rawle Spooner April 12, 2015 at 10:32 am

    Well Frundel no one is on a level playing field when it comes to dealing with only super power left in the world USA,Barbados is a damm tuna in a shark pond in the big scheme of things and none of that aint gine change by playing tough at least USA looks out for its citizens and interest.

  5. Frieda April 12, 2015 at 10:35 am

    Topics discussed with POTUS


    Next: ‘We engage you as people who have a view of the world, based on our experiences, from which we think that your country and others, over which it has influence, can benefit.’


    Do those Countries also have an uneven field with you?

    Why cant you be Independent as you are clamoring for a REPUBLIC and do your own groundwork and put in the effort to gain the respect of these Countries and influence them , rather than Piggyback on the US

    Ostrich bring your head out of the Sand

  6. Frieda April 12, 2015 at 10:41 am

    Wunna learn to be humble

  7. elainaluv April 12, 2015 at 12:07 pm

    Well done Mr PM very eloquently stated so the President and those associated can’t play ignorance about the challenges we face, let’s hope we see the leveling of the playing field in the very near future.


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