Antigua & Barbuda opens new & modern International airport

(St. John’s, Antigua) – The twin-island nation of Antigua and Barbuda has opened one of the most modern international airports in the Caribbean.  The 23,000 square meters new terminal for the destination, more than doubles the capacity of the adjacent previous terminal, making way for an increase in passenger use of the V.C. Bird International Airport as an all important airline hub, and the  largest gateway to the Eastern Caribbean.

There are 4 jet bridges, and a unique, state of the art baggage sorting and scanning system. With faster immigration processing times, user friendly innovations and features, the near US$100 million terminal that opens for operation on August 24, will greatly improve the visitor experience, allowing travellers expedited access to Antigua and Barbuda, and maximum sun time on the destination’s 365 beaches.

new terminal international airport

For those departing, there are 46 check-in counters and 15 self-check in kiosks. A bigger departure lounge, offers more space to relax, modern comforts, multiple gates, and an enhanced shopping and dining experience. The facility houses 30 retail units including International brands Dufry, Colombian Emeralds, Café Britt, Café Player and Subway. Free wifi and Internet service is available for the tech savvy traveler, while travelers with pets, can take advantage of the airport’s pet friendliness by enjoying the pet restroom.

There are three brand, new lounges: A VVIP lounge, a VIP lounge and an Airport Executive Lounge. The airport executive lounge, with outdoor balcony offers remarkable views of two of Antigua’s offshore islands – Long Island and Maiden Island, giving passengers the opportunity to bask in the last rays of sunshine before their flight.

The modern facility, funded by China EXIM Bank concessional loan, and by a Chinese Government Interest Free Loan, has also been specially designed with elevators, escalators and ramps, to serve the travel needs of passengers requiring special assistance.

The terminal building will also see an innovative feature intended to further advance Antigua and Barbuda’s reputation as a leader in sustainable tourism and sustainable development within the region.  This involves the establishment of a 3 mega watt solar photovoltaic facility, to provide green energy solutions to the considerable demand for electrical energy in the new terminal.

Antigua and Barbuda Minister of Tourism, Economic Development, Energy and Investment, The Honourable Asot Michael says, “What we are celebrating today as we cut a ribbon is the largest single infrastructural investment in the development of our young nation. This facility, is one that we can all be proud of and of which I am confident will help ensure the bright and successful future of Antigua and Barbuda. It will further cement our position as a premier tourist destination of choice in the Caribbean.

“We are responsible for ensuring a major part of this, by ensuring that our islands are exactly what we promise: welcoming, beautiful, safe and enjoyable; from the point when visitors touch down to their departure we will ensure that their experience is one that is unforgettable and that they take back only warm and lasting memories of their time spent in our beautiful country.”

For the upcoming winter season, JetBlue Airways will begin direct service to Antigua’s new international airport, from New York’s JFK International Airport on November 5. In December, Alitalia will begin weekly service from Milan, and Seaborne Airlines will begin direct service from San Juan.

The V.C. Bird International Airport currently offers service to more than fifty destinations worldwide on Air Canada, American Airlines, British Airways, Caribbean Airlines, Condor, Delta Airlines, LIAT (1974) Ltd, St Barth Commuter, ABM Air, Thomas Cook Airlines, Tradewinds Aviation, United Airlines, US Airways, Virgin Atlantic Airways and WestJet.

The new terminal will operate 24 hours a day.  The previous terminal building which processed over 860,000 passengers per year, will continue be used partially for administrative purposes.

The new and greatly improved V. C. Bird International Airport terminal is the latest jewel in the country’s tourism crown, and will position Antigua and Barbuda for unprecedented growth in the travel and tourism industry.


The Financial Services Regulatory Commission is accepted as member of the CGBS.

ST.JOHN’S, Antigua and Barbuda – 13th August 2015…….On June 12 at their CARICOM Central Bank Governor‘s Meeting , the  Governors  approved  the application of the  Financial Services Regulatory Commission  of Antigua and Barbuda to be admitted  as an associate  member of the  Caribbean Group of Banking Supervisors( CGBS) .

The CGBS was established by CARICOM Central Bank Governors in 1983 with the mandate to enhance and coordinate the harmonization of the bank supervisor practices with a view to bringing them in line with internationally accepted practices.  The membership consists of banking supervisors from seventeen regional jurisdictions namely:  Antigua, Aruba, Bahamas, Belize, British Virgin Island, Cayman Islands, Curacao, St. Maarten,   Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Surinam, and Trinidad and Tobago.  The CGBS is a regional grouping under the Basel Committee for Banking Supervisors.

The chairmanship is restricted to the different CARCICOM member Central Banks as the CGBS is a creation of the CARICOM Central Bank Governors.  In this regard, as an associate member Antigua and Barbuda will enjoy all the rights, privileges and responsibilities of core membership. The chair is currently held by Jamaica.

The FSRC was accepted as a member of the Group of Finance Centre Supervisors on April 27, 2015.

Antigua and Barbuda Participates in the conference of CARICOM Heads of State & Government

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – July 3, 2015………..Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, the Honourable Gaston Browne, joined his colleague OECS Heads in Grenada for the convening of the 61st Meeting of the OECS Authority. Among the matters tackled by OECS Heads were issues related to the annual work programme of the OECS Commission, the question of scope for a health framework within the OECS, and the blacklisting of OECS Member States by the European Union as being “non-cooperative jurisdictions” with regard to the official sharing or exchange of tax information.
Following the OECS Meeting in Grenada, Prime Minister Browne journeyed to Barbados, accompanied by the Honourable H. Charles Fernandez, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, to participate in the 36th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of State and Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) which opened on Thursday.
Under the theme, ‘CARICOM: Vibrant Societies, Resilient Economies’, the Opening Ceremony of the CARICOM Heads Meeting heard from a number of dignitaries, who addressed various issues up for consideration of the CARICOM Heads. His Excellency Irwin LaRocque, Secretary General of CARICOM, expressed his thanks to the Right Honourable Perry G. Christie, Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, for his skillful stewardship of CARICOM during his Chairmanship of the Conference. The Secretary General, in his remarks to the Heads and guests concluded that the future of our Community, through regional arrangements such as the CSME and programmes supporting sustainable development objectives could be achieved through willingness and hard work. He noted that “unleashing the dynamism and creativity of the Region will propel us to achieve the level of development we seek.”


In his remarks, which touched on many issues, Outgoing Chair of CARICOM, Prime Minister Christie emphasized how valuable and pivotal Tourism is for the development of the CARICOM Region. Citing his own country’s challenges to enhance its tourism product, the Bahamian Prime Minister remarked that, “for most of our countries Tourism is the largest earner of foreign exchange; the one sector that employs most of our private sectors; there are intrinsic benefits which are delivered by Tourism.” He concluded that, “The Caribbean should not only be seen as the main region of the world that is dependent on Tourism, but also the world’s most competent region on Tourism.”
Other distinguished speakers included the Honourable Donaldson Romero, Premier of Montserrat, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, Prime Minister of the Federation of St. Christopher and Nevis, His Excellency Brigadier David Granger, the President of the Republic of Guyana, and the Right Honourable Freundel Stuart, Q.C., M.P., the Prime Minister of Barbados and Incoming Chairman of the Conference of CARICOM Heads. Secretary General of the United Nations, His Excellency Ban Ki Moon, also briefly addressed the CARICOM delegations and distinguished guests.
The delegation of Antigua and Barbuda will participate in various discussions of the agenda, which, among other issues, will confront areas such as the role of universities in resilience building and wealth creation amongst Caribbean people, relations with the Dominican Republic, and the unfair blacklisting of CARICOM Member States, such as Antigua and Barbuda, as non-compliant tax havens by the European Commission.
Other Members of the Antigua and Barbuda delegation include Valique Gomes, Permanent Secretary (Acting) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and His Excellency Dr. Clarence Henry, Ambassador of Antigua and Barbuda to CARICOM.


Peter Holmberg to Defend his Title in Nonsuch Bay RS Elite Challenge at Antigua Sailing Week

The organisers of Antigua Sailing Week are delighted to announce that
the Nonsuch Bay RS Elite Challenge will be returning to this year’s Lay Day
events on Pigeon Beach on Wednesday, April 29.
The Challenge is a one-day invitational one-design racing event featuring
24-foot RS Elite sailboats and offering top-quality racing for eight highly
qualified skippers and their teams. Racing will take place in close
proximity to Pigeon Beach inside Falmouth Harbour to provide maximum
spectating opportunities from the beach as well as from the water. For
those watching from the beach, Nonsuch Bay Resort will have the grill fired
up in its hospitality tent with delicacies from Resort Chef Michael
Husbands available for purchase.
Olympic medallist and America’s Cup winner Peter Holmberg was last year’s
Challenge winner and he will be returning to Antigua again this year to
defend his title. “The Antigua Sailing Week organisers invited me to
participate in the Nonsuch Bay RS Elite Challenge last year and I’m really
pleased I accepted the invitation. They provided well organised racing
close to Pigeon Beach which allowed us to really showcase our sport of
sailing. Although we took the racing seriously, we had a lot of fun and it
was a great way to spend Lay Day. I’ll definitely be back to defend my
title this year,” said Holmberg.

Peter Holmberg will be back to defend his title in the 2015
Nonsuch Bay RS Elite Challenge at Antigua Sailing Week

Other teams signed up to participate in the Challenge this year include *Team
Phaedo^3* which has been breaking records around the Caribbean in its MOD
70 since its arrival in Antigua in February this year. There will be two
all-women’s teams including *Performance Yacht Charter* with skipper Lucy
Reynolds, and a *KH+P yachtcharter team* with Nicole Lameter at the helm. T*he
Kick ‘Em Jenny team f*rom St. Maarten will be participating this year as
will a team from *At Last . . .* with skipper Pietro Corbucci. Rounding out
the eight-team line up will be two teams that won a place to enter the
Challenge at the Final of the Nonsuch Bay RS Elite Summer Series held last
December. Those teams will be led by Marc Fitzgerald of *Sojana* and Martin
Beck who owns an RS Elite and is keenly promoting growth of the RS Elite
class in Antigua.
Beach activities will get underway from 12:00 noon and racing will start
promptly at 1:00 pm. There will be two qualifying series of four teams each
with a maximum of three races each of approximately 15 to 20 minutes in
length. The top two boats from each series will go to the final series
which will also consist of a final three races.

The event came to life as a result of ideas thrown around by Mark Whinney,
Marketing Director of *Nonsuch Bay Resort.* Mark loves the event and says:
“Residents and guests at Nonsuch Bay Resort were getting so much enjoyment
out of the RS Elites that we wanted to create a special event to provide
greater exposure to both the RS Elite one-design fleet and of course to
Nonsuch Bay Resort itself. We all agreed that there was no better time to
do that than during Antigua Sailing Week. Racing in the Elites has become
so popular that Nonsuch Bay has expanded its fleet over the past year and
sailors have begun seeking out invitations to participate in the RS Elite
Challenge on Lay Day every year.”
There will be live commentary from the beach throughout the event so
spectators can easily follow the on-the-water action. A prize giving will
take place at about 5:00 pm with trophies being awarded to the top three
finishers with a prize for the overall winner of a week’s bed and breakfast
accommodation at Nonsuch Bay Resort for two people, including use of all
sailing equipment and facilities.
Simultaneously along the beach from mid-day DJs Easy P and Professor Irish
will heat things up with beach games from DJ Sporty including cricket,
football, a hot bikini competition, lime and spoon race, tug-o-war and
more. Shuttles to the beach will run from Antigua Yacht Club all day and
into the night.

Honourable Asot Michael of Antigua and Barbuda Remarks BA Service to ANU and TKI

AsotMichael CARICOM

Hon Porsha Stubbs, Minister of Tourism Turks & Caicos,
Dr. Kingsly Been, Chairman of Turks & Caicos Tourism Board
Mrs. Lavern Skippings-Reynolds, Airport Manager, Providenciales International Airport
Ralph Higgs, Director of Tourism, Turks & Caicos Airport
Mr. Rohan Hector, Chairman of the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority
Mr. Colin James CEO Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority
Ms. Paula Frederick-Hunte Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism
Ms. Shirlene Nibbs: Tourism Consultant in the Ministry of Tourism
Other Distinguished guests and members of the media
Ladies and Gentlemen.

Good afternoon.

First of all, I would like to warmly welcome everyone to V. C. Bird International Airport today, and to thank you for being here to celebrate and share this exciting occasion in tourism, for not only Antigua and Barbuda, but even more so for our close friends from The Turks and Caicos, Islands as well as British Airways.

Today marks a very important step in the gaining importance of the Caribbean for the UK and European tourism industry. We ,a Part of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) are welcoming the inaugural flight of a British Airways service that will transit Antigua and where the aircraft will continue onwards to the Turks & Caicos Islands.

I believe I can speak for everyone here today by saying that Antigua and Barbuda have long had a mutually beneficial and respected relationship with the tourism industry from the UK – and beyond – a relationship that we have done much to foster to ensure all visitors know they will be embraced with open arms when they arrive.

Figures for the UK tourism market to the Caribbean as a whole have been showing positive growth, and I believe we can officially say that the Brits love us, and of course, that we love the Brits! In fact we look forward with much expectation to welcome thousands of English cricket fans for the upcoming Test Series with the West Indies which will be held in Antigua from April 13th -17th.

This rise in popularity of both Antigua and Barbuda and The Turks & Caicos Islands as top destinations is shown by British Airways agreeing to add a direct link between our two destinations. Additionally, with British Airways being one of the world’s largest carriers, it means that not only will UK residents, but so will many others from across Europe connecting via Gatwick, be able to visit our dual destinations even more easily.

This new airservice also means that for the first time in the history of our two countries there will be direct flights between the Eastern Caribbean and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
This new flight means new opportunities and choices available to us for increased business activities and closer collaboration. The end result will be greater economic growth while, simultaneously building the spirit of regional integration between our two countries.

We are confident more choice will equal more visitors for everyone here, and everyone in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

I do truly stress the ‘us’ as this new flight will offer an increase in options not only for those wanting to visit Antigua and then visit the Turks and Caicos, but also vice versa for those visiting Turks & Caicos now being able to easily visit Antigua. We know when passengers are flying 8 hours and longer from Europe that they truly want to explore the Caribbean and this direct flight allows them to easily, comfortably, and quickly travel between these two, I would say, unique and perfect destinations in the Caribbean.

This new air service comes with unique advantages. It actually means visitors from the UK and Europe as well as the Eastern Caribbean wanting to visit our friends in the Turks & Caicos Islands will be able to do so without travelling via a US port. This is a major benefit as transferring at an airport in the US means obtaining a regular visitor’s VISA or ESTA pre-clearance visas for all non-US citizens. Not only is there a costinvolved for obtaining a visa, but untold amounts of time is spent standing in immigration and custom lines while transiting most US airports. We can promise all travelers transferring directly to Turks and Caicos a smoother, quicker and more enjoyable experience – plus an even more wonderful experience if they choose to stop-over!

As part of our investment to prove to visitors how important they are to us, and to ensure that all visitors receive the best travel experience possible on our island, we will be opening a new airport terminal very shortly. This will feature not only the latest technology for our passengers to avail of, but also first class duty free shopping. Additionally the overall passenger experience will be greatly enhanced by expedited processing procedures with multiple VIP andPremium Passenger First Class lounges.

Finally I would like to take this opportunity to extend an invitation to my colleague Minister, of Tourism from the Turks and Caicos Islands the Honourable Porsha Stubbs to be present with us in June to help us celebrate the opening of our new airport which will mark the commencement of a new phase ofgrowth in tourism for our beloved country.

May the start of this inaugural direct service between Antigua and Barbuda and the Turks and Caicos Islands mark the beginning of a new the phase of friendship, cooperation and growth in this vital industry between our countries.

Thank you.

Mismanagement of Our CARICOM Affairs

The cronyism, nepotism and promotion of unqualified persons by Mrs. Kamla Persad-Bissessar have been now exported to the CARICOM and international posts. The two most recent nominations she made have failed to receive both Caribbean and wider international support.
The first of these failed nominations was Mr. Hamid Ghany, a known insider to the Mrs. Persad-Bissessar’s cabal and propagandist for her directives. He was nominated for the Secretary General of the 79-nation African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group even though he had no relevant experience in trade negotiations, in the workings of the ACP group, in international affairs or in relations with the European Union.
Mr. Ghany’s candidacy was not taken seriously by any country. When he turned-up at a meeting of the Council of ACP, no ACP Ambassador knew him – not even those from the Caribbean. Hence, Trinidad and Tobago was treated with scant regard and he spectacularly failed to be elected.

Remarkably, Trinidad and Tobago did not send its Foreign Affairs Minister, Winston Dookeran, to that ACP Council meeting. Instead, another Persad-Bissessar known-crony, Bhoe Tewari, was sent to the Council meeting. He, too, was unknown to the Council members and his representation of Ghany made no impact.

The same Minister Dr. Bhoe Tewari is the other nomination that Mrs. Persad-Bissessar is trying to foist on the Caribbean and the Commonwealth. This time, it is for the post of Secretary General of the 53-nation Commonwealth. Dr. Tiwari is relatively unknown in the Caribbean and the Commonwealth, as a diplomat. He has no experience in diplomacy and Commonwealth affairs. He is a poor candidate.
Since July last year, when Mrs. Persad-Bissessar put forward his name to the 12 Commonwealth Caribbean countries for possible endorsement by the Region, he has been firmly rejected. Twice at Commonwealth Caribbean meetings (in December in Cuba in the margins of the Cuba-CARICOM Summit and in the Bahamas in February). Dr. Tewari has received no support, except from Mrs. Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
In other words, from the 12 Commonwealth Caribbean governments, he got 1 vote – Mrs. Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s. These nominations of unsuitable cronies of Mrs. Persad-Bissessar are making Trinidad and Tobago the laughing stock of the CARICOM region and the international community.

Sir Ronald Sanders, secured the support of 9 of the 12 governments.
I want to make it quite clear that if Trinidad and Tobago had an outstanding, an electable candidate – and if we did not already hold two of the three top posts in the inter-governmental Commonwealth – the PNM would have backed such a candidate to the hilt. But we do not have such a candidate and we cannot expect to hold the top three posts in the Commonwealth.

Therefore, the PNM fully supports the Antigua and Barbuda nominee who already has majority support from the 12 Commonwealth Caribbean countries. He is an outstanding candidate, recently honoured by the UWI at the St. Augustine Campus, with Honorary Doctor of Letter (D. Litt) for his outstanding work in the Caribbean and the Commonwealth. He is also a well-known Caribbean man.

This cavalier approach of cronyism and nepotism which passes for diplomacy under this UNC government, has the potential to hurt the interest of Trinidad and Tobago in future dealings when Trinidad and Tobago put forward qualified candidates who may be shunned by our CARICOM colleagues in response to our current behaviour where we failed to acknowledge superior candidates from other territories, put forward our own poor quality candidates, who do not represent the best of Trinidad and Tobago but prepared to back them to the end.

I am calling on the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago to act in the interest of the people of Trinidad and Tobago by withdrawing the unsuitable candidacy of Minister Dr. Bhoe Tewari and provide our prestige and support to a consensus CARICOM candidate so that in the future when we put forward candidates that have what it takes to rally consensus from our neighbours, we would be assured of such support and our ambitions will stand a realistic chance of success.

Dr. Keith Rowley
Leader of the Opposition

Statement by Hon Gaston Browne MP Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda at the Opening of the CARICOM Heads of Government Meeting In Nassau, Bahamas


Colleague Heads of Government
Ministers of Government
Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

I thank Prime Minister Perry Christie and the people and government of The Bahamas for the warm welcome given to all the participants in this meeting.
We have no doubt that under Prime Minister Christie’s chairmanship, the outcomes of this meeting will be beneficial to the people of the Caribbean Community who have entrusted us with a mandate to manage their regional affairs.

As I formally hand-over the gavel of chairmanship of CARICOM, I would like to reflect briefly on the period of my own stewardship of the Community’s affairs.
I came to the Chairmanship within weeks of winning a general election and becoming a Head of Government for the first time.
I am thankful to my colleagues for the encouragement and support they gave me.
And, I was extremely pleased that I was able to superintend our Community affairs through some historic events.
Those events include the decision of the Governments of Cuba and the United States to establish diplomatic relations.
We in the Caribbean can rightly take credit for being on the right side of history in this matter dating back to 1972, when four independent member states of our Community ended the US-inspired hemispheric diplomatic embargo of Cuba.
At our Summit meeting with Cuba last December, I called on the US congress to end its senseless trade embargo against Cuba.
I do so again now.
I also had the privilege of chairing our grouping in a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe in Trinidad. In addition, I was extended the privilege to speak on behalf of Caricom as a whole during a Celac meeting in Brazil, when the majority of our member states had a productive meeting with China’s President Xi, that has set the foundation for a beneficial economic relationship between us.
At the third Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), in Costa Rica, I was pleased to speak on behalf of CARICOM.
That Summit agreed on a plan of action to eliminate hunger by 2025 submitted by the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation, Dr. José Graziano da Silva, who is with us at this meeting and with whom we can follow-up specific measures of benefit to the people of the Caribbean.

You will note Chairman that I speak of “the people” of the Caribbean, and not “the peoples” of the Caribbean.
I do not regard the inhabitants of our Region as different “peoples”; we are one people with a shared history, common challenges, common opportunities and a common destiny.
Those challenges cannot be effectively overcome nor can the opportunities be successfully seized by each of our countries acting alone.
While each of our small nations from time to time may enjoy a moment of remarkable triumph, we all know that such moments are rare and are – in any event – temporary.
They are not enough to sustain our economic growth domestically, nor are they sufficient to protect us from the onslaught of powers much bigger and stronger than any of us.
Only our collective action in defence of our mutual interest will offer resistance to the tides of unfavourable challenges that rush from outside and imperil the livelihoods of our people.
Similarly, only united action will allow us to take advantage of opportunities that could better the lives of our people.
We need collaboration, cooperation and unity within our Region and in our Region’s affairs with the international community, if we are to surmount obstacles, overcome limitations and advance our people’s interests.
We need to engage the international community at all the levels open to us, and through our best people.
Wherever possible we must establish a Caribbean presence within international organisations to advance Caribbean interests.
And, we must do so through genuine Caribbean representatives who have fought in the trenches for us and for Caribbean development.
That is the only way we have a chance of success.

Mr Chairman, our Region now confronts one of the most demanding periods of its post-Colonial history.
Even though we are small and vulnerable, the international community treats us as if we enjoy the resources, the populations, the land mass and the wealth of the United States or the European Union.
The special and differential treatment to which our small size, high transactional costs, and openness of our markets should have entitled us, is denied us.
In this regard, I take this opportunity to thank the people and Government of Venezuela for the special arrangements rendered to many CARICOM countries under Petro Caribe.
I also thank the Governments of China and Taiwan for their support as well.
While others were neglectful of the adverse impact on our economies of the financial crisis that originated in the US and Europe, the governments of Venezuela, The People’s Republic of China and Taiwan extended a hand of help.
We will not forget.
Chairman, I call on this Conference to register our condemnation of the recent report of a plot to overthrow the constitutionally elected government of Venezuela.
In our region we believe in the democratic process as amply demonstrated by all our recent general elections that changed governments by ballots not bullets.
Let us send that message of firm commitment to the democratic process resoundingly around the world.

Mr Chairman, while my own country is not affected, we are deeply disturbed by the news that from the end of next year, European Union policy will deal a severe blow to Caribbean sugar producing nations, such as Barbados, Belize, the Dominican Republic, Guyana and Jamaica.
The EU will terminate a cap on European beet sugar production and so flood the EU market displacing sugar exports from Caribbean countries that will be unable to compete with heavy subsidies given to EU beet sugar producers.
The British Department for International Development is reported to have predicted that this “perfect storm” of the new EU beet sugar policy, and the consequent low, subsidised price, will force force 6.4 million people in African, Caribbean and Pacific countries into poverty over the next five years.
Caribbean sugar workers will be forced into subsistence agriculture and will face the danger of extreme poverty.
The EU does not appear to have any appreciation for the fact that we cannot create new markets in the space of a year, nor can we retrain and retool our farmers in other crops.
They have also repeatedly, broken their commitment to us on sugar – a commitment for which our representatives fought since 1973.

We are proud to have with us at this meeting our first spokesman on sugar when that commitment was negotiated – the Most Honourable PJ Patterson, a Caribbean patriot and statesman to the core.
I am sure that he would agree that this latest grave and mortal policy announcement by the EU is not one that we should allow to rest.
This Conference should and must resolve, that this issue will be taken up aggressively with the EU at the highest levels – and taken up by all our governments collectively.

Mr Chairman, the countries of our Community are not only marginalised in the international community with no voice or vote in International Financial Institutions of the world, we are also coerced into adopting policies that harm our own economies while serving the interests of others.
Extra-territorial laws and policies made in other countries and regions are imposed upon us without consultation – indeed without the slightest interest in such consultations.
We are made to implement the agenda of others, even to the point of spending our own scare resources to act as their tax collectors, or we suffer the consequences of not surrendering to their will.
Now our banking sector is facing a new and potentially devastating threat.
Our Region is being labelled as a high-risk area for financial services.
Consequently, correspondent banks in the United States and major banking centres in Europe are being made to evaluate risks versus rewards for doing business with our indigenous banks, and banks in our offshore sector.
Because in many cases indigenous banks cannot provide a high level of reward, correspondent banks are closing their relationships with them – all because an arbitrary an unsubstantiated claim is being made that the Caribbean is a high risk area for financial services.
Unless this situation is addressed with urgency, the indigenous banks in each of our countries will be forced to close their doors, not because of any inherent difficulties in the banks themselves, but because they are constrained from transacting business abroad.
I need hardly say that the impact of such a development on our economies would be calamitous.
Mr Chairman, I venture to suggest that our Community should waste no time in jointly addressing this problem.
I call on this Conference to agree to establish a Committee of Finance Ministers to work with the Caribbean Association of Banks to develop a plan to deal with this matter, including by making strong representations at the World Bank, the IMF, within the Commonwealth and La Francophonie and, if it necessary, at the United Nations.
It is time that we raise our voices and not meekly accept the continuing emasculation of our financial services, particularly after we have spent millions of dollars on making our jurisdictions compliant with every demand that has been made of us.
The situation is unfair and unjust.

Colleagues, the state of financial services, which once contributed significantly to the growth and development of our economies, is now a shadow of its former self.
Yet, despite all that we have lost through the dictates of powerful countries, our countries receive no concessionary funding from International or Hemispheric international institutions or from countries whose policies materially affect our economic and social development.
And, while that observation is valid for all our countries, in the specific case of Antigua and Barbuda, in two weeks’ time it will be eleven long years since the World Trade Organisation granted us an award which has not been honoured by the country that violated an international agreement and injured our economy.
My country is yet to receive the benefit of that award, the penalties for which, according to the WTO ruling, now stand in the equivalent sum of US$168 million.
It is not, Mr Chairman, that representatives of my country have not sought consultations with the other party to settle this matter.
We have been patient and we have been reasonable, but so far to no avail.
The casualness with which the ruling of the legitimate international body has been treated, and the neglect of a legally-binding obligation have implications for every country represented in this room.
I signal now that there are remedies legally available to my government that have been stipulated by the WTO.
We hope that we are not forced to resort to these remedies, but we have a duty of care to our people that we cannot disregard.
Mr Chairman, we in Antigua and Barbuda, are thankful to our brothers and sisters in the Caribbean Community for all their moral support and their many declarations of solidarity.
It is my fervent hope that you, as representatives of the Caribbean people, will at this meeting once again strongly indicate your support of Antigua and Barbuda.

Mr Chairman, I know well the daunting task that faces each of our governments to provide employment for our people, to attract investment, to fight crime, to eliminate guns from our streets, to keep our people safe while we improve health care and education; and build roads and ports.
I know it is right that we should formulate national policies to meet all of these challenges and that we should each do so creatively, but I warn that none of us should believe that we can succeed on our own.
Within the Region, our policies need to be mindful of the need to spread the face of integration so that all our people reap some benefit.
My own country has been a faithful member of regional organisations since we helped to found CARIFTA in 1965 and throughout the trials and tribulations of CARICOM.
For all these years, we have endured serious balance of trade deficits with virtually every CARICOM country.
We have been a ready market for the goods of our sister-states.
It is in that connection, that we believe that countries, such as Antigua and Barbuda, that have stayed the course without benefits in trade, should not also be disadvantaged in services like LIAT to which we have also been a major financial contributor over several decades for the benefit of many other countries.
We must ensure that regional integration serves the interest of all.

In this regard, I welcome the initiative of the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Mrs Kamla Persad-Bissessar, for our region to consider the growing threat to our security posed by international terrorism.
Before us are recommendations from the Commissioners of Police and Heads of Intelligence of CARICOM arising from the Prime Minister’s initiative.
These recommendations encompass collective regional safeguards against terrorism, and they include measures to curb illegal guns and gangs – phenomena that plague all our countries, terrorising our people and damaging our economies.
Despite the fiscal constraints with which all our governments are faced, I hope that we can adopt the very pro-active recommendations of the Commissioners of Police and Heads of Intelligence.
The work they have done is a fine example of the region’s brains working together for the benefit of the region and for our people.
We should applaud their effort and their example.

Colleagues, I know doubts continue to exist about the effectiveness and usefulness of our regional integration movement. However, Antigua & Barbuda remains fully and firmly committed to Caricom Integration.
But, as I formally hand over the Chairmanship of CARICOM to the Prime Minister of the Bahamas, Perry Christie, I do so convinced that regional integration remains vital to the betterment of our countries individually and collectively.
The evidence is clear: we need more not less regionalism; we need more not less regional integration.

Thank you very much.