CARICOM wants member states removed from EU blacklist

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The European Union’s (E.U.) recent blacklisting of several Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries for being “non-cooperative tax jurisdictions” has gone beyond international norms and they should be removed from the list, according to Irwin LaRocque, CARICOM’s Secretary-General.
The SG’s condemnation came during the accreditation of new ambassador of France to CARICOM, Antoine Joly, at the CARICOM Secretariat in Georgetown, Guyana on Wednesday.
“This decision by the E.U. has been based on new and unilaterally-determined criteria, that go beyond the generally accepted international tax transparency and accountability standards which our countries have been diligently meeting over the past several years,” LaRocque is reported by the Secretariat as saying.
“CARICOM strongly objects to this listing of our member states and calls on the E.U. to remove our member states from this pernicious list.” He is reported as adding that the Community stood ready to discuss this matter with the European Council.
Trinidad and Tobago, St. Lucia, Grenada, and Barbados are on the list of 17 countries released on December 5. An E.U. statement said it “strongly encourages” those blacklisted countries to make the changes requested of them, since failure could see the application of “defensive measures” which could include both taxation and non-taxation steps.
Several other Caribbean states that were affected by the September hurricanes, including Antigua and Barbuda, were given a reprieve to get themselves compliant.
According to the EU statement: “They will be asked to address the concerns identified as soon as the situation improves, with a view to resolving them by the end of 2018. By February 2018, they will be contacted to prepare the next steps.”
The Secretary-General urged France to leverage its influence for the EU to desist from “taking such arbitrary and punitive actions” against those CARICOM states it had blacklisted. Those countries, he emphasised, have not been so labelled by the relevant regulatory authorities such as the Financial Action Task Force and the OECD Global Forum.
A major consequence of “blacklisting” was the “de-risking” strategies that included the withdrawal of correspondent banking services by certain international banks, the CARICOM Secretary-General told the French envoy. He said that the imposition has had a “detrimental impact on the trade and financial operations” of the Region’s economies.
“As ambassador to the Community, your direct engagement in promoting awareness about the extent of our capabilities and the obstacles we face in our aspirations for economic development is of great significance,” LaRocque told the new French envoy. 
The list was established following screening and dialogue conducted during this year with a large number of third country jurisdictions. According to the E.U., those that appear on the list failed to take meaningful action to address deficiencies identified and did not engage in meaningful dialogue on the basis of the E.U.’s criteria.

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