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Caribbean Initiative’s Congressional Engagement

Testimony

Sep 14, 2022

The Atlantic Council’s Wazim Mowla Provides Testimony at US House Financial Services Committee Hearing on Caribbean Financial Inclusion

By Wazim Mowla

Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center Assistant Director Wazim Mowla testifies to the House Committee on Financial Services regarding financial inclusion in the Caribbean

Caribbean Digital Currencies

The Caribbean Initiative’s Financial Inclusion Task Force sets the agenda in Barbados

On April 13, 2022, Senior Director of the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center Jason Marczak and Assistant Director of the Caribbean Initiative Wazim Mowla traveled to Barbados to present the four main recommendations from the Financial Inclusion Task Force report “Financial de-risking in the Caribbean: US implications and what needs to be done” at a financial access roundtable. The roundtable was co-chaired by Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley and Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee Congresswoman Maxine Waters. The CARICOM Heads of Government in attendance agreed to establish an annual US-Caribbean Banking Forum – the third recommendation of the Task Force’s report. At the subsequent press conference, Prime Minister Mottley referenced the contributions made by the Atlantic Council, stating “We had representatives of the Atlantic Council, as they had done a policy paper on this issue in March of this year that helped inform many of our discussions.” In attendance were nine CARICOM Heads of Government, six members of Congress, and representatives from the region’s private sector and multilateral institutions.

The Caribbean Initiative applauds the US vaccine donation to CARICOM

The Caribbean Initiative is pleased to have played a supporting role after the Biden-Harris Administration announced in August 2021 that it will donate 5.5 million COVID-19 vaccines to CARICOM member states. At a February 2021 #ACFrontPage event, Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley in his capacity as CARICOM Chair issued a call to action on the importance of equitable vaccine distribution to the Caribbean. Alongside a diverse set of stakeholders. the Initiative launched a series of public and private consultations to emphasize the importance of vaccines for Caribbean economic recovery and the well-being of its populations. These discussions informed a policy brief, “The Strategic Importance of Sending US Vaccines to the Caribbean (June 2021),” which emphasized how substantial US vaccine donation to the Caribbean could help economies to re-open safely, as well as further US geopolitical interests, reactivate US-bound tourism, and strengthen partnerships with neighbors. The brief recommended that the United States donate to the English-speaking Caribbean and Suriname, 4 million vaccines through CARPHA, ultra-cold temperature vaccine freezers, and additional COVID-19 supplies – all recommendations that came to fruition with the Biden-Harris Administration’s announcement. The Caribbean Initiative sees this donation as a great example of the benefits of the US-Caribbean partnership.

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