The Chairman of the Conference of Heads of Government and Prime Minister of Belize, the Hon Dean Barrow, addressed the opening ceremony of the 27th Intersessional Meeting of [CARICOM]( Heads of Government in Placencia, Belize yesterday. He said the threats to the Region’s banking sector via the phenomenon of de-risking could have *“cataclysmic ramifications”* for the Caribbean, and a *“relentless”* campaign must be waged against it.

Although speaking to the general economic climate, Prime Minister Barrow used much of his address to focus on the correspondent banking scenario and what it portends for the Community. The matter is a key agenda item of the two-day Summit, and a Meeting of Finance Ministers was held earlier on Monday to craft a Regional response. A Committee of Ministers of Finance on Correspondent Banking, chaired by Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Hon. Gaston Browne, will lead the response to this issue. The Committee is supported by leading Regional institutions including the Committee of Central Bank Governors (CCBG), the [Caribbean Association of Banks]( (CAB) and the [Caribbean Financial Action Task Force]( (CFATF).

The threat relates to the possible loss of access to the international financial markets by mainly the Regional 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.

*Note:* The Conference of Heads of Government is the supreme Organ of the Community and determines and provides policy direction for the Community. The Conference consists of the Heads of Government of the Member States. Any Head of Government may designate a Minister or other person to represent him or her at any Meeting of the Conference.