Coming out of the [27th InterSessional Meeting in Belize](http://today.caricom.org/2016/02/18/all-options-to-be-pursued-for-solution-to-banking-sector-threat-caricom-chair/), media reports indicate the concerns that a decision taken by global banks could ruin the region’s financial sector have prompted a decision by the CARICOM Heads of Government to take the matter as far as the World Trade Organization (WTO), the United Nations (UN) and the United States President.
CARICOM Chairman Dean Barrow (Belize Prime Minister) says CARICOM will employ the full gamut of options available to it to confront the correspondent banking crisis that is threatening the region, as he stressed the need for collective action, sensitization and mobilization. *“The goal is to underline to all the key players, including the US Congress how absolutely existential this issue is for us”*, said Prime Minister Barrow who is also to write a letter to US President Barack Obama on the matter. *“It is going to take a great deal of doing. All we can say now is that we are determined to pursue all possible means until we get the kind of resolution that we want.”*
The threat relates to the possible loss of access to the international financial markets by mainly the region’s indigenous banks. Several international banks, mainly in the US and Europe, have signalled to client banks in the region an unwillingness to continue carrying their business. The so-called de-risking by the global banks threatens to impact several critical services including remittance transfers. International trade, the facilitation of credit card settlements for local clients are among the other effects the region faces.
Among the measures CARICOM Heads decided on in Belize was the establishment of a high level advocacy group, led by Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister, Gaston Browne. His mission is to represent CARICOM’s interest at all levels, including with the UN, WTO and US Congress. Prime Minister Browne’s mission was just one avenue through which CARICOM hoped to find a solution to the problem, which has been described as a *“possible correspondent banking Armageddon”* against which the region would have to wage a relentless war.
*“When the CARICOM mission begins its campaign, it will involve not just talking to regulators but the mission will also talk to correspondent banks,”* according to PM Barrow. *“And we recognize that the conundrum of the correspondent banks not wanting to assume the burden of the regulatory requirements given that the returns from our business are fairly small, is something that we have to address,”* he said. It has been recommended that CARICOM member states pool their business to achieve critical mass and to make it worthwhile for the correspondent banks. The governors of regional Central Banks, and the Committee of Ministers of Finance on Correspondent Banking (established by the Heads) will consider the modalities of that recommendation.
According to the CARICOM Chair, banking regulators have given assurance that there is no *“problem with our jurisdictions”*; he noted that all CARICOM Member States are Financial Action Task Force (FATF) compliant.