WASHINGTON, USA — The deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Zhang Tao, will attend a crucial conference in Antigua on 27 and 28 October on the issues confronting the banking system in the Caribbean.
The conference is being hosted by Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne pursuant to a mandate from heads of government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) at their meeting last July. Browne is the prime minister with responsibility for financial matters in the quasi-Cabinet of CARICOM leaders.
The conference gathers high level representatives of the IMF, the World Bank, the OECD Global Forum on Tax matters, the Inter-American Development Bank, the CARICOM Secretariat, the Caribbean Development Bank and representatives of governments, central banks and regulatory authorities.
In Washington on Sunday, Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador Sir Ronald Sanders, said: “The Caribbean banking system is confronting a serious problem with the withdrawal of correspondent banking relations, particularly from US banks. The Antigua Conference is a ‘closed door’ conference of the stakeholders to address the problem through a frank dialogue, looking for sustainable solutions.”
The majority of banks in Caribbean countries have experienced the loss of correspondent banking relations that threaten to sever the region from the world’s financial and trading system, unless it is arrested soon.
Sanders said, “In this connection, the presence of Deputy Managing Director Zhang at the Antigua conference shows the importance that the IMF places on this vital matter.”
Zhang will make a public statement on the second day of the conference on October 28.
The Antigua and Barbuda ambassador, who has been Prime Minister Gaston Browne’s point man in the organization of the conference, revealed that the conference will also hold a session on the “unfortunate branding of Caribbean jurisdictions as tax havens”.
He declared that “the region has been fighting this wrongful branding for over two decades”.
“In part,” he said, “this accounts for the fear that exists in US banks that they face high-cost risks by providing correspondent relations to Caribbean banks.”
At the end of the conference, Browne will issue a ‘chairman’s statement’ on the outcomes and recommendations of its deliberations.