New Banks Open In the Caribbean, Strengthening Regional Ties

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Mon. Aug. 14, 2023: In a significant development for the Caribbean region, two new banks have recently expanded their operations, marking a stride towards enhancing economic ties and fostering growth opportunities. The Development Bank of Latin America and the Caribbean (CAF) and the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) have unveiled their plans to strengthen their presence in the Caribbean, emphasizing their commitment to the region’s economic development.

CAF’s Expansion and Commitment

The Development Bank of Latin America and the Caribbean (CAF) has announced its intentions to broaden its operations in the Caribbean, reflecting its commitment to the region’s progress. Sergio Díaz-Granados, the executive president of CAF, expressed this commitment during the launch of the Report on Economics and Development. He stated that the bank’s relationship with the Caribbean extends beyond its current shareholder countries, including Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, and Jamaica.

Díaz-Granados revealed that CAF’s regional office for the Caribbean was launched in Port of Spain last November, with plans underway to establish an additional office in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean islands. The bank aims to collaborate with the Caribbean Development Bank, the Inter American Development Bank (IDB), and other partner institutions to address the financial needs of stakeholders and improve the quality of life for Caribbean citizens.

Highlighting the importance of sustainability, Díaz-Granados announced CAF’s participation as a financier, investing up to US$50 million to support the Barbados-led Blue Green Bank initiative, which focuses on the blue economy.

CAF’s commitment also extends to addressing inequality in the region. The bank’s annual Report on Economic Development (RED) underlines the persistence of inequality in Latin America and the Caribbean. CAF aims to leverage its influence to promote sustainable development and inclusive growth in the region.

Afreximbank’s Caribbean Office and Trade Enhancements

The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) has taken a significant step towards bolstering ties between Africa and the Caribbean by opening its Caribbean office. This move aligns with the bank’s strategy to enhance trade between the two regions and strengthens its Partnership Agreement with CARICOM states.

The Caribbean office of Afreximbank aims to facilitate greater trade and investment affiliations between Africa and the Caribbean. During the launch event, Afreximbank President Prof. Benedict Oramah confirmed the provision of a $1.5 billion credit limit to support qualifying CARICOM nations. This funding is intended to stimulate economic sectors, enhance trade infrastructure, and empower small to medium enterprises across the Caribbean.

The office’s establishment is set to expedite Afreximbank’s activities within CARICOM, fostering stronger collaborations with regional governments and the business sector. Prof. Oramah envisions seamless trade implementations and the integration of financial systems between CARICOM and Africa for mutual benefit.

Strengthening Regional Partnerships

Both CAF and Afreximbank’s expansions in the Caribbean underscore the importance of regional partnerships in driving economic growth and development. As these banks work together with existing financial institutions and governments in the Caribbean, they are poised to contribute significantly to addressing economic disparities, promoting sustainable practices, and creating new avenues for trade and investment.

Tullow Oil Agrees to Sell Stake in Guyana Orinduik License

News Americas, GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Mon. Aug. 14, 2023: Tullow Oil, a leading oil and gas exploration and production company, has recently announced a significant deal involving the sale of its 60% equity stake and operatorship in its Guyana Orinduik license to Eco Atlantic Oil & Gas for a cash consideration of US$700,000. The Orinduik license is situated within Guyana’s offshore oil and gas fields, covering an expansive area of approximately 2,100 square kilometres.

Tullow’s exploration efforts on the licence included drilling two wells in 2019, which unfortunately resulted in uncommercial oil discoveries. However, this latest development demonstrates Tullow’s strategic approach to optimizing its portfolio and unlocking value from its emerging basin licences. The company plans to channel the proceeds from this transaction towards its general corporate purposes.

In addition to the cash consideration, Tullow stands to receive contingent consideration of up to US$14 million. This sum is tied to potential future milestones, including the achievement of a commercial discovery and the issuance of a production licence from the Government of Guyana.

Jean-Medard Madama, Tullow’s Director of Exploration, Non-Operated Assets and Decommissioning, explained the rationale behind the transaction. He stated that it aligns with Tullow’s strategy to focus its capital expenditure on high-return producing assets and growth opportunities around existing infrastructure, while optimizing its portfolio through the realization of value from emerging basin licences.

Eco Atlantic’s President and CEO, Gil Holzman, expressed enthusiasm about the agreement, highlighting their belief in the potential of the Orinduik Block since 2014. The company’s initial two wells in 2019 uncovered two different oil plays, affirming the block’s potential. Eco Atlantic intends to engage in a farm-out process to further develop the license and begin preparations for drilling activities to explore the cretaceous layer, where light oil discoveries have been made in the nearby Stabroek Block.

Colin Kinley, Co-founder and COO of Eco Atlantic, added to the discussion by emphasizing the significant potential of the Orinduik Block. He explained that the block sits on a series of continental shelves leading into the basin, with a rich and prolific basin that offers substantial volumes of oil. The company’s experienced team is well-prepared to take on the operatorship role and aims to target stacked pay opportunities within the cretaceous layer, showing great optimism about the potential for substantial recoverable oil volumes.

The completion of this transaction is contingent upon several conditions precedent, including government and joint venture approvals. The process is expected to be finalized in the latter half of 2023, marking a new chapter in the development and exploration of the Orinduik license.

UK Home Secretary Suspends Visa-Free Access for Citizens of Dominica Due to Citizenship-by-Investment Concerns

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Mon. Aug. 14, 2023: In a recent development, UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman has made the decision to halt visa-free entry into Britain for citizens from Dominica. This decision is a direct response to the concerns surrounding the country’s citizenship-by-investment (CBI) programs, which grant citizenship to individuals through investment.

Braverman explicitly cited the misuse of the CBI programs as the rationale behind this move. She stated, “Careful examination of Dominica’s implementation of their citizenship by investment initiatives has revealed clear and evident misuse of the system, including conferring citizenship upon individuals known to pose risks to the UK.”

According to the UK government, concerns surrounding Dominica’s programme include:

Poor due diligence around applications, including those of dependents.
The provision for name changes upon receipt of citizenship.
The lack of a residency requirement for applicants.
The granting of citizenship to nationals of other countries who ordinarily require visas to enter the UK, consequently leading to increased levels of asylum applications.

Notably, the Dominican government attempted to address the UK’s concerns by revoking some of the recently issued CBI passports. However, this effort proved insufficient to prevent the suspension of visa-free access.

A particularly concerning aspect highlighted was the issuance of passports to individuals from the UAE who had previously been denied entry to the UK. This crucial information had not been disclosed in their CBI applications, leading to Braverman’s decision.

As a result of the actions of a few individuals abusing the system, all citizens of Dominica are now required to go through the visa application process to travel to the UK and EU. Dominica is not the first CBI countries to face allegations of corruption, inadequate due diligence, or passport sales to unsuitable individuals. St. Kitts and Nevis encountered a similar scandal nine years ago, prompting efforts to improve their program’s integrity.

In response to these developments, other Caribbean nations with CBI programs, including Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, and St. Lucia, are under heightened scrutiny. The European Commission presented these nations with demands to maintain visa-free access to the EU, including stricter due diligence, mandatory applicant interviews, and increased investment thresholds.

St. Kitts and Nevis’ CBI Unit swiftly responded by announcing an increase in its minimum CBI investment to $200,000.

Despite these crises and fluctuations in visa-free arrangements, citizenship by investment remains a persistent option. Governments continue to seek investment through such initiatives, demonstrating the enduring allure of these programs.

Citizenship by investment offers a broader spectrum of rewards beyond the passport’s travel power, emphasizing the profound value of belonging to another nation. While visa-free travel holds allure, the rights and privileges conferred by citizenship in another country are equally significant. Dual citizenship offers both travel benefits and a second home, along with potential benefits for future generations.