FEDERATION’S AMBASSADORS IN WASHINGTON AND PARIS URGE G20 COUNTRIES TO RETHINK FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE STRATEGY TOWARDS MID-INCOME SMALL ISLAND DEVELOPING STATES

Washington, May 10, 2020–The Federation’s multilateral ambassador’s in Washington and Paris joined forces this week to urge the G20 countries to rethink their financial assistance strategy towards mid-income small island developing states in a letter published in the influential Financial Times.

Responding to an article in the international edition of the Financial Times highlighting the economic dependency of small islands to tourism, and the assistance needed to offset the costs of the Covid-19 pandemic resulting from lost tourism receipts,  Dr David Doyle, Ambassador of St Kitts & Nevis to UNESCO in Paris, and Dr Everson Hull, Ambassador of St Kitts & Nevis to Organization of American States in Washington, penned a joint letter to its editor underlying the tourism-dependent nature of small islands like St. Kitts and Nevis.

The Federations’ Ambassadors noted that “Caribbean small island developing states (SIDS), Saint Kitts and Nevis included, constitute one of the most tourism-dependent regions worldwide, with the tourism sector recognised by the UN World Tourism Organization as a key economic driver and foreign-exchange earner”.

Given the close-downs brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, many SIDS were deprived of critical revenue streams arising from tourism, with UNCTAD quoted by the Financial Times citing the Caribbean states like Jamaica, Barbados, St. Lucia and Antigua all needing financial assistance to recover (see FT article above).

Unlike other regional groups, noted Ambassadors Hull and Doyle, “SIDS face an accentuated level of risk arising from Covid-19, given not only close-downs affecting important income streams from tourism, but also the less-reported, but equally devastating effects of natural disasters driven by climate change. This translates into heightened vulnerability”

The multilateral ambassadors of St. Kitts and Nevis stated,: “We applaud G20 countries’ recent decision to freeze official loan payments from low-income countries until the end of 2020 in the face of Covid-19…but we urge the G20 to target assistance more flexibly in exploring mid-income country-by-country specific solutions, considering existing debt burdens and the broader vulnerability factors, in funding the small islands’ development plans, and thereby contribute to their Sustainable Development Goals”.

The bottom-line said the Ambassadors was that “Mid-income SIDS are just as vulnerable as low-income countries to the Covid-19 pandemic in sustaining their economic, social, education programmes, as well as tourism, already deprived of Official Development Assistance funding because of their mid-income status”.