Earlier this year the Eastern Caribbean Securities Exchange became the world’s newest stock market. The totally screen-based system, with an electronic trading floor, opened in St. Kitts during January with announced plans to trade a range of financial products, including corporate stocks and bonds, and government securities. The exchange operates a central securities depository, and securities will be traded electronically by dealers who maintain accounts for individual and institutional investors — settling transactions through a paperless system.

Countries served by the new exchange include Anguilla, Antigua, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts-Nevis, St. Lucia and St. Vincent, and have a combined population of some 550,000 people, and share a single currency managed by a regional central bank.

Sarah Ackerson, Senior Special Counsel of the US Securities and Exchange Commission commented. *”This is an excellent arrangement that allows the islands to benefit from working together. The regulatory framework is excellent.”*

General Manager of the Exchange is Baljit Vohra, said there are 28 publicly held companies in the islands, with book value capitalisation of one billion EC dollars. The Government Securities market in the region is estimated at EC$1 billion, and expected to grow. Mr. Vohra further commented that there are several large privately held (mainly family-owned) businesses in the region that could be listed.