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Growth briefs

Published:Friday | December 16, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Alicia Bárcena, ECLAC's executive secretary.
Roosevelt Skerrit

Cuba proposes to use rum to pay back Czech debt

PRAGUE, Czech Republic (AP):

The Czech Finance Ministry says Cuba has offered an unusual way of repaying its Cold War-era debt - its trademark rum.

Finance Ministry spokesman Michal Zurovec said on Thursday that Cuban authorities have proposed to pay back $276 million to the Czech Republic from the time both countries were part of the communist bloc.

If that proposal becomes reality, the Czech would have enough Cuban rum for well over a century. According to the Czech Statistics Office, the Czechs imported rum from Cuba worth more than $2 million last year.

Zurovec says that the Czechs would still prefer the debt was at least partly paid in cash.

In the past, North Korea wanted to repay its $10 million debt with products made with ginseng.

ECLAC predicts Caribbean will resume subdued growth in 2017


After two consecutive years of economic contraction, the Economic Commission for Latin American and the Caribbean (ECLAC) has predicted that the region will experience a modest growth of 1.3 per cent in 2017 amid uncertainty about the global economy.

The United Nations regional organisation on Wednesday made public its annual Preliminary Overview of the Economies of Latin America and Caribbean 2016.

It called for revived public-private investment "in order to resume short- and long-term growth, and confront the risks and growing uncertainties posed by the international scenario".

"We are at a turning point. Latin America and the Caribbean will resume growth but moderately and without clear engines driving it," said Alicia Barcena, ECLAC's executive secretary, in presenting the document during a press conference. "Its recovery will be fragile as long as the uncertainties of the economic context continue, particularly the recently observed protectionist trends.

Caribbean debt repayment exceed lending inflow

- World Bank


For the first time since the financial crisis, the World Bank says principal repayments on external debt held by low- and middle-income countries, such as those in the Caribbean, exceeded lending inflows.

According to the bank's International Debt Statistics 2017 (IDS 2017), released on Wednesday, short-term debt flows reversed to an outflow of US$398 billion, about three times higher than the inflow in 2014.

Meanwhile, long-term debt flows remained positive but plummeted to US$214 billion, half the previous year's level, IDS 2017 says. As a result, it says external debt stock declined by six per cent, to US$6.7 trillion, equivalent to an average of 25 per cent of Gross National Income (GNI).

Government won't tolerate gasolene trade monopoly

ST JOHN'S, Antigua (CMC):

The Antigua and Barbuda government Friday said it would not allow the French-owned RUBiS gas company to monopolise the retail sector in the country.

The move follows communication sent to retailers by the French company regarding the retail of gasolene products.

Telecommunications Minister Melford Nicholas, speaking to reporters at the end of the weekly Cabinet meeting, said that "the Cabinet is concerned about this in the sense that these local businesses and the retail trade of petroleum is something that has been reserved for a very long time ... for local businesses".

He said the Cabinet of Prime Minister Gaston Browne "views this as a troublesome development" from the standpoint that it could generate a monopoly in the distribution of petroleum products.

Dominica PM offers support to manufacturing sector

ROSEAU, Dominica (CMC):

The Dominica government says it is prepared to provide financial assistance to manufacturers to allow them to become more competitive in niche markets within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) market.

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, who met with local manufacturers on Thursday night, said that the talks were aimed at finding solutions to their challenges.

"What I have done is to indicate to them that the government is prepared to make some funds available to the AID Bank to on lend to them to address some of the financial challenges which they are experiencing and that we have set the interest rate at three per cent to allow them to procure material, equipment and packaging and raw material, and also some working capital."