Letters & Opinion

Blacklisting is an Established Form of Pressure

IT is customary for the SLP to continuously embark on the slightest bit of negative propaganda and ultimately turn a molehill into a mountain. However, this is politics and it must be viewed for what it really is. We make these introductive comments based on the EU’s decision to blacklist a number of nations for what is perceived as an unfair tax system.

For the last 100 years, countries have acted in their best interest for reasons pertaining to their circumstances and the great United States is no different as 12 months ago Mr. Trump clearly announced, “AMERICA FIRST”.

Revisiting the tax structure of a nation remains the prerogative of any sovereign country, but the difficulty facing the nations handpicked by the EU being placed on notice is as a result of investors being provided with a choice to improve their bottom-line.

A perfect example today is the decision taken by the President of the US, Donald Trump, recognizing that hundreds of US companies, including Apple, AT&T and Starbucks, to name but a few, kept their profits abroad in areas which shaded their vast earnings from harmful taxation policies. Unlike the EU which published a blacklist, Mr. Trump dropped his tax structure from 35% to 21%, thereby encouraging the organizations to repatriate their earnings without the onerous penalties in force. Apple alone repatriated some US$350 billion to the US and will now invest those funds at home, automatically chipping away at the unemployment situation which is already one of the lowest within the international community.

We are by no means suggesting that our prime minister should pick an argument with the EU, but by the same token, the PM cannot blindly sign an agreement without weighing the options/consequences. The fact that Grenada and Barbados have been placed on the grey list is nothing more than an interim stop while discussions continue.

Despite the comments of the SLP political leader, St. Lucia has neither done nor changed anything differently to what past administrations have done. It is a simple case that the EU, having examined their balance sheets, are seeking to ensure that their citizens provide the EU with their first choice of investment and in so doing ensuring that subsidiary nations make it difficult for such options. In our view, the PM needs to have constructive discussions with the EU representatives and arrive at an amicable situation.

St. Lucians should not lose sight of the fact that when the US closely followed the WTO rules, the African, Caribbean and Pacific nations lost their banana quotas which resulted in the collapse of many economies – St. Lucia being no exception. The blacklisting scenario is nothing more than an attempt to bring vulnerable states to the bargaining table based on the strength of the EU economy with a population of 750 million. I wonder how many of us had the opportunity to listen to Mr. Trump’s speech at the Davos Meeting in Switzerland on January 26, 2018. It was most inspiring to the business community in the US, as it paved the way for an invigorating approach to investment and the EU may be well advised to revisit this ideology in face of the competition on the horizon.

By Political Observer

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