Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 10th 2015 Contents DECEMBER 10 • 2015 www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
REGIONAL | BG19
Acting Prime Minister Richard Sealy has expressed the hope
that Barbados can expand its partnership with the newest airline
to begin flights to the island, Avianca Airlines.
Sealy, who is also Minister of Tourism and International Transport,
expressed that sentiment as the airline made an inaugural flight
from Colombia last Thursday.
The Avianca A318 Airbus will fly between Barbados and Colombia
on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The airline seats 100 people, with
88 regular seats and 12 in business class.
"We are, of course, very happy that this flight has become a
reality," Sealy said, adding that both he and representatives from
the airline wanted the trips to increase from twice weekly to daily
flights "in the shortest possible time."
The minister said the partnership with Avianca was worthwhile,
as it provided an opportunity for Barbados to enter the Latin Amer-
ican market in a significant way.
Avianca is the second largest airline in Latin America, and a
member of the Star Alliance, the largest airline alliance in the
That connection, Sealy said, presented opportunities for incre-
Tropical Storm Erika wiped out 90 per
cent of Dominica's gross domestic
product (GDP), according to the rapid
damage and impact assessment con-
ducted by the island's government in
collaboration with the World Bank,
United Nations, and other development partners with
funding support from the EU and the World Bank
Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery.
The intense rainfall arrived after an unusual dry
season, and the combination of cracks in the soil and
torrential rains triggered landslides and slope failures,
causing major damage to roads, bridges, houses and
In just a few hours, the strong winds and rains
destroyed critical infrastructure that took the small
nation of about 70,000 people more than five years
of normal investment for the country.
The total damage and loss was estimated at US$483
million. The event took place just two months ago and
killed 11 people, cutting off electricity and water supply
on the island and closing down the airport. For a small
economy, recently bolstered by a recovery of the tourism
sector in the region, this represents a major economic
set back. More and more, small island states such as
Dominica are being confronted with extreme weather
events. Many scientists are attributing the increase in
the number and strength of hurricanes and storms to
According to the World Bank study "Turn Down
the Heat," the number of severe hurricanes is projected
to increase by 40 per cent, with double the intensity
of the current, as warming rises by 2°C and up to 80
per cent in case of a 4°C warming. This, together with
sea-level rise, will have devastating impacts, especially
on the Caribbean.
Increasing exposure to natural disasters represents
a real threat to development prospects in the Caribbean.
This has become the top priority for Caribbean gov-
ernments that are participating in the international
climate negotiations in the lead-up to the COP 21 Paris
conference at the end of the month. It is also at the
heart of the countries' development planning supported
by development partners.
An earlier study from the Caribbean Catastrophic
Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF) showed that annual
expected losses from wind, storm surge and inland
flooding amount to up to six per cent of GDP in some
countries. Climate change has the potential to greatly
exacerbate these risks, and could increase expected
losses by one to three per cent of GDP by 2030.
As Dominica sets its priorities for recovery and recon-
struction, the focus is now on building climate resilient
infrastructure and preparing investments to reduce
flooding and landslide risks.
Last week, the government of the Commonwealth
of Dominica organized a pledging conference with
donors to garner additional support to help shore up
the island and preserve the hard-won socio economic
gains achieved over the last decade.
Following the conference, Prime Minister Skerrit
said, "We believe that it is not only about cutting roads,
building houses and giving somebody a key.... I'll be
the first to say, as I've said before, that we do not have
the requisite expertise on the island to guide us in that
direction therefore we are relying heavily on our partners
all of whom have indicated their keen interest and
intention to provide us with that level of support and
These are common goals shared by many small island
countries in the region. Now the question is whether
the Paris agreement will provide additional instruments
to respond to the growing threat of climate change in
Cuba is near a deal with 15
rich creditor nations of the
Paris Club to restructure
US$16 billion in debt stem-
ming from a 1986 default,
with creditors expected to
forgive most of the amount owed, diplomats
close to the talks said.
The parties will meet in Paris later this
week and, after two years of informal dis-
cussions, are close to a multilateral deal,
the diplomats said.
"Cuba has agreed to pay the principal of
around US$5 billion owed since its 1986
default in exchange for forgiving US$11 bil-
lion in service charges, interest and penal-
ties," said one diplomat from a major cred-
itor nation. "Negotiations are now more
about how much time they need to pay it
and how much of the money will be rein-
vested in Cuba."
Cuba has secured investment agreements
from creditors in previous debt negotiations
and is seeking similar commitments from
the Paris Club nations, the diplomats said.
The Paris Club is an informal group of
creditor governments from Australia, Aus-
tria, Belgium, Britain, Canada, Denmark,
Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy,
Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Russia,
Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United
It has a 15-member working group on
Cuba that excludes those countries---the
United States among them---that do not
hold the debt under negotiation.
Most of the creditors are willing to show
flexibility due to their increased interest in
doing business in Cuba following the Com-
munist-run island's detente with the United
States and continuing domestic reforms.
US President Barack Obama and Cuban
President Raul Castro announced a year
ago their governments would work toward
a normalisation of relations after decades
of confrontation, although a US trade
embargo of Cuba remains in place.
Castro, who replaced his ailing brother
Fidel as president in 2008, has made restor-
ing Cuba's international financial credibility
a priority. He has reined in imports and cut
state payrolls and subsidies while insisting
the near-bankrupt government get its finan-
cial house in order.
Cuba has had a trade and current account
surplus since 2011 and has improved its
payments record to creditors and suppli-
ers.In the past four years, Cuba has restruc-
tured its debt with Japanese commercial
creditors, Mexico and Russia, each time
obtaining reductions of 70 percent to 90
percent in what was owed and extended
payment plans it could meet in exchange
for greater investment opportunities on the
Cuba also has restructured its debt with
China, estimated by local economists at
more than US$6 billion.
"Our companies want this out of the
way so they can obtain financing for invest-
ments," one European diplomat said. "They
want to get here before the Americans lift
Cuba is not a member of the World Bank
nor any other multilateral lending institu-
"A comprehensive deal would go a long
way toward normalising Cuba's international
financial relations and gaining access to
official trade credits," said Richard Feinberg,
a non-resident senior fellow of the Wash-
ington-based Brookings Institution and the
author of several studies on Cuba's need to
join the international financial communi-
"However, a deal with the Paris Club will
not get Cuba a good international credit
rating. That can only come from more robust
export earnings and a healthier sustainable
balance of payments," Feinberg said.
Cuba does not comment on debt nego-
The government last reported its "active"
foreign debt, accumulated after it defaulted
in 1986, at US$12.5 billion in 2012. It no
longer reports its "passive" debt from before
the default, the principal of which local
economists estimate at US$8 billion.
The Economist Intelligence Unit estimated
Cuba's total foreign debt as US$26 billion
at the end of last year.
This week's formal negotiations with the
Paris Club creditors are the first since nego-
tiations failed in 2001. Reuters
Barbados welcomes new service from
Colombia with hopes of expansion
Cuba nears deal with Paris
Club on debt forgiveness
almost all its GDP
due to climate change,
says World Bank
Links Archive December 9th 2015 December 11th 2015 Navigation Previous Page Next Page