The 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) grouping says it “deplores the ongoing unilateral, arbitrary and non-transparent blacklisting strategy” employed by the European Union (EU) to Caribbean countries.
“The most recent inclusion of CARICOM states to the blacklist of alleged non-cooperative tax jurisdictions and jurisdictions identified as being deficient in the area of Anti-Money Laundering/Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT), underscores the EU’s unwillingness to take into account the substantial progress made by CARICOM Member States at compliance with global standards,” CARICOM said in a statement.
It said moreover, the unquestioned use of ratings from other international bodies as a determining factor in the decision to list a jurisdiction along with the absence of meaningful prior consultation with the affected states “negates the spirit of partnership and multilateralism that has characterised the relationship between CARICOM and the EU”.
Barbados, the Bahamas and Trinidad and Tobago were included in the latest EU list of 22 countries that have currently been identified as high-risk third countries for money laundering and terrorist financing. The list was released on October 1.
“These countries are identified as having strategic deficiencies in their national anti-money laundering and counter-financing of terrorism regimes that pose significant threats to the EU’s financial system,” the EU said in a statement, adding “you must apply enhanced due diligence (EDD) measures in any transaction or business relationship with a person established in a high-risk third country”.
In its statement, CARICOM said that along with the unprecedented task of staging a post-COVID-19 economic recovery, “these CARICOM states now have the added burden of being subjected to the EU’s discriminatory tactics disguised as tax policy and governance.
“Blacklisting severely affects the economic prospects of the listed states and the Community, in general, at a time when all of our members are already faced with the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This labelling causes significant reputational risk, erodes our competitive advantage, and discourages the investment that CARICOM States desperately need to drive inclusive growth and build economic resilience,” CARICOM said.
The regional integration grouping said it is calling “upon the European Union to desist from this harmful practice of blacklisting small states, and instead pursue a mutually collaborative engagement towards our shared goals of effective tax governance