01 September 2015

Cayman should demand to have World Organisation membership

The Cayman Reporter

Today the Cayman Islands face many challenges especially when it pertains to its financial services industry. Although a small nation, the Cayman Islands has become accustomed to manoeuvring around the global financial arena and dealing with various threats such as being placed on financial blacklists

It would be beyond the scope of this editorial to even try and project the growing demand amongst the OECD and the EU to force Overseas Territories (OT) such as the Cayman Islands to forcefully comply with the transparency requirements that suit the economic and financial needs of their economies, regardless of the detrimental impact on the financial industry of the Cayman Islands.

Interestingly, many in our community are not aware that during 1991 to 1995 the British Overseas Territories (BOT) were consulted by the United Kingdom when its World Trade Organisation (WTO) membership was being negotiated as to whether the OTs wished to be covered. The OTs chose not to be and therefore are not represented in WTO talks. Basically the Cayman Islands, as one of the BOTs gave the UK the right to decide our financial services industry laws and future.

Overseas Territories use to benefit from preferential market access arrangements to the EU through the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) or the Overseas Association Decision (OAD). Under current Commission proposals, Overseas Territories, with effect from 1 January 2014, no longer are eligible for the preferences under the GSP.”

Whatever the reason may have been for OTs agreeing to give all their negotiating powers to the mother country during the 90s, one thing has become quite clear. OTs such as the Cayman Islands have changed significantly over the past 20 years and should be seeking to be at the negotiating table to ensure that the Cayman Islands interests are considered and acted on.

In recent years we have seen too many incidents whereby it is apparent that the UK’s interests take precedence over the interest of the people in the Cayman Islands. How can we as a country be assured that the UK has been appropriately representing our interests in the international arena? Far too often we see our financial services industry coming under attack but rarely do we see the UK coming to our defence when the likes of the US come down on us.

Our constitution also makes it clear that the UK’s interest very well may come before ours. In ‘The Cayman Islands Constitution Order 2009’ section 31(3) it states, “In the exercise of his or her functions under subsection (2), the Governor shall endeavour to promote good governance and to act in the best interests of the Cayman Islands so far as such interests are consistent with the interests of the United Kingdom.” The final part of this clause makes it clear that the Governor, who should be acting in the best interest of the Cayman Islands, can refrain from doing so if Cayman’s interests are not aligned with that of the UK.

Maybe it is about time our government begin discussions on gaining back control over certain decision making abilities related to international trade and commerce, such as the ability to be represented at the WTO. If we cannot be assured that the UK will be looking out for the Cayman Islands best interest. It would be in our best interest to begin to take control of important aspects of our economy and country, especially when it pertains to international trade.

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