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PM Browne Warns ECLAC Summit in Ecuador of Impending Correspondent Banking Crisis

27th January 2016

PM Gaston Browne began his engagement at the IV Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in Ecuador Wednesday morning when he arrived for the Opening Session at the Union of South American Countries (UNASUR) Headquarters in Mitad del Mundo outside the Ecuadorian capital Quito.

PM Browne arrived in Ecuador on Tuesday night accompanied by his Foreign Minister Charles 'Max' Fernandez. Also part of the Antigua and Barbuda delegation is Ambassador Colin Murdoch, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Opening Session of the IV CELAC Summit was addressed by the President of the Republic of Ecuador, HE Rafael Correa.

The Opening Session was followed by a retreat of the Heads of State and Government, during which they engaged one another in a restricted caucus.

During the plenary debate in the afternoon, PM Browne highlighted to his colleague Heads the clear and present danger associated with the decline in correspondent banking relations among Caribbean countries.

'The system is pernicious, destructive and callous,' Mr. Browne said. 'If Caribbean financial institutions lose correspondent banking relations, the following will take place: first, remittances from our diaspora which are important to the foreign exchange earnings and the welfare of the poor in our society, will be adversely affected. Second, businesses will not be able to pay for goods and services they import which are necessary for human existence. And third, the tourism industry upon which we depend, will be fatally injured when payments cannot be made and revenues received.'

At the close of the debate, the CELAC Summit issued a Political Declaration, the 2016 CELAC Action Plan and a series of Special Declarations.

'Participation in CELAC puts us in a group that has international weight and influence,' PM Browne said, 'and it is therefore an excellent vehicle for bringing our concerns and issues to the attention of global decision-makers.'

Mr. Browne also commended the burgeoning integration arrangements among the CELAC member states and the invaluable support being provided by the People's Republic of China through the US $35 billion China-CELAC Fund.

The Prime Minister returns to Antigua and Barbuda on Thursday.

Director-General of Communications
Government of Antigua and Barbuda
Office of the Prime Minister
Redcliffe Street, St. John's, Antigua
Tel: 1(268) 721-5904