Bahamas PM Defends Offshore Economies in Speech to UN General Assembly


Above: Bahamas PM Perry Christie (UN Photo/Ryan Brown)

By the Caribbean Journal staff

The United Nations needs to develop mechanisms to govern offshore financial services in order to protect small offshore economies, Bahamas Prime Minister Perry Christie told the UN General Assembly this weekend.

Christie said high-powered countries were trying to force their will on countries like the Bahamas, which are reliant on offshore finance for economic growth.

“We see this same dynamic at work in the ongoing economic aggression of many of the more developed countries against small offshore financial service-based economies, especially in the Caribbean region of which The Bahamas is a part,” he said. “Some have used their power either unilaterally or in small groups of high-powered nations to impose their will, arguing that there is something fundamentally immoral, something intrinsically sinister, about the accumulation of wealth in offshore jurisdictions.”

Christie said he rejected “in the strongest possible terms the efforts of some to maim and cripple, if not destroy, the offshore economies within our region.”

He said that offshore financial services could be “responsibly operated and regulated,” and that most of the offshore wealth actually benefits the developing world.

“Unilateralism and diplomacy-by-coercion are not the way the world should be dealing with this issue,” he said.

Instead, he said, “we need to challenge the UN to take the lead in developing and refining multilateral global mechanisms for the governance of the offshore financial services sector; mechanisms that wilt meet the legitimate demands of the developed world for the protection of their fiscal systems and their need for greater security, while at the same time allowing offshore financial service economies to continue to grow in an orderly and properly regulated way.”

Destroying offshore financial service economies will “destabilize the countries that depend upon them for their livelihood,” he said.

“To destroy this sector in the Caribbean would effectively cause tens of thousands of newly empowered middle class citizens to slip back into poverty or to migrate to the developed world,” he said.