The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has re-affirmed its commitment to working with Caribbean nations in addressing the challenges that stand in the way of securing strong, inclusive, and sustainable growth.
Caribbean prime ministers, finance ministers and central bank governors, donors, representatives from international financial institutions, and the private sector were recently in Trinidad attending the IMF’s 2016 High Level Caribbean Forum.
During the November 1-2 forum these economic stakeholders exchanged views on the unique challenges and opportunities for the Caribbean region, focusing on global and regional challenges such as de-risking and stagnant growth.
IMF Deputy Managing Director, Tao Zhang, said since the previous forum in Trinidad in September 2012, countries in the region have made progress addressing important issues such as low growth and high debt, however more work remains to be done. “I would like to reiterate that the IMF is deeply committed to its work with the Caribbean countries. We are committed to supporting policy reforms, and reconstruction efforts. Tides may shift, seas may rise, but the Fund’s unwavering commitment to the region will remain unchanged,” he said.
According to the IMF, shifting global trends have contributed to the subdued growth recovery in Caribbean economies, thus 2016 is proving to be another year of lackluster growth. The withdrawal of correspondent banking relationships presents clear and imminent challenges to the Caribbean, despite some countries in the region having stepped up efforts to reduce gaps in their regulatory and supervisory frameworks.
Zhang said the IMF is working with national authorities and regional and global organizations to provide technical assistance to strengthen these frameworks. “We believe a durable solution to this issue requires dialogue between countries, regulators and banks, and increased information exchange. This can help clarify regulatory expectations, build trust, facilitate capacity building, and share best practices,” he said.
Some other regional challenges discussed include natural disasters, and a weak financial sector. Zhang also noted the pervasive problem facing a number of the Caribbean countries – the challenge of sustaining fiscal adjustment measures aimed at public debt reduction amid weak economic growth.
The IMF Deputy Managing Director highlighted Jamaica, Grenada, and St. Kitts and Nevis as some clear success stories of having achieved important results reducing their fiscal and external vulnerabilities over the last few years.
Zhang said, “Our work continues in the Caribbean by providing policy advice, technical assistance and training, and by providing financing. Whatever new challenges arise, we will work together with you to find solutions,” he concluded.