Billie Miller implies that Barbados Government Bid Process is rigged to favour Chinese Companies!
China “will continue” to win new construction contracts in Barbados!
You know why the Barbados news media doesn’t cover WikiLeaks
Barbados Free Press asks: “Can we expect a statement from COW or Bizzy Williams on the China construction contracts revelations?”
Every morning we rise ‘n shine, flip on the old PC and head for WikiLeaks first thing to see if there’s anything new about Barbados. We can’t imagine any Bajan journalist not doing that because we know that WikiLeaks has some 261 US Embassy cables sent from Bridgetown and up until April 18, 2011 only 3 had been released.
Maybe we missed some recent coverage in the Bajan oldstream news media, and if so we apologise. If it wasn’t covered, maybe the Bajan oldstream news media should apologise to Barbadians.
The latest release of 16 embassy cables is online now at WikiLeaks Bridgetown Embassy List. There’s only one “Confidential” cable in the bunch, but that’s not to say that the others aren’t important – we just haven’t looked at them yet.
Here’s some excerpts from the April 12, 2006 “CONFIDENTIAL” cable from Ambassador Mary Kramer, talking about some official and off-the-record conversations she had with Barbados Foreign Minister Dame Billie Miller…
“Miller told the Ambassador privately that the Chinese “owe” Barbados for all the favorable deals their state construction company has won – and will continue to win – in Barbados.”
Sugar Subsidies out, Service Industry in
“Ambassador Kramer asked FM Miller to share CARICOM’s vision of a desired future for regional and global trade. The Foreign Minister responded that for over 300 years Barbados has never openly traded sugar. Her country has always had preferential treatment; sugar has almost always been subsidized. Miller said Barbados has determined that
sugar is not the way forward; instead, the service industry represents the most promising future.”
Cameras at Airport and Port
The PS for Trade, Samuel Chandler, entered the discussion, noting how security regulation and requirements have added cost to both exporters and governments. Miller remarked on all the camera equipment at the port and airport, saying, “These are not one-off expenses, they are recurring expenses, but without them one risks the loss of international access for the port and the airport.”
Barbados stifles open discussion with USA
Such a frank and wide-ranging discussion between the Barbados Government and senior diplomats is extremely rare. The Barbadians normally hold embassies at arm’s length, insisting on a rigorous adherence to protocol that stifles open discussion. Barbados and FM Miller in particular are CARICOM leaders in many areas of foreign affairs, and her views on Haiti and trade likely hold true for most CARICOM members.
Full text of Confidential April 12, 2006 message from US Embassy, Bridgetown
C O N F I D E N T I A L BRIDGETOWN 000637
STATE PASS USTR-VLOPEZ;SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/11/2016
TAGS: PREL PINR ETRD EINV EAIR UNSC BR CH CS HA
SUBJECT: BARBADOS FOREIGN MINISTER ON HAITI, TRADE, AND UN
REF: BRIDGETOWN 628
Classified By: Ambassador Mary Kramer for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)
¶1. (C) Summary: Foreign Minister Dame Billie Miller and
members of her staff held a candid question and answer
session with Barbados-based Ambassadors, revealing Caribbean
views on Haiti, trade, and UN reform. On Haiti, Miller
encouraged the U.S. and Brazil to remain engaged, while
committing to a greater CARICOM role in rebuilding Haitian
civil society. She also promised greater Haitian involvement
in CARICOM after President-Elect Rene Preval’s inauguration.
On trade, Miller said she would push hard for a waiver from
the WTO so the U.S. Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) can
continue (reftel). Other MFA staff then elucidated Barbadian
positions on trade in services, security requirements as a
trade barrier, and CARICOM trade agreements with Costa Rica,
Cuba, and Venezuela. On UN reform, CARICOM remains divided.
Some member states support only India and Brazil for Security
Council membership while others support the full G-4 slate,
including Germany and Japan. End Summary.
¶2. (U) Following an April 7 breakfast meeting at the Hilton
for Barbados-based Ambassadors (reftel), Foreign Minister
Dame Billie Miller moved the group to a meeting room and
opened the floor to questions. In an open and forthright
discussion, she expressed her views on Haiti, trade issues,
and UN reform. Also present from the Barbados MFA were
Minister of State Kerrie Symmonds, MFA Permanent Secretary
(PS) Ambassador Teresa Marshall, MFA Deputy PS Charles
Burnett, MFA PS for Trade Samuel Chandler, and an MFA
notetaker. In addition to Ambassador Kramer, Ambassadors or
High Commissioners representing Brazil, China, Costa Rica,
Cuba, the UK, and Venezuela attended. Canada was represented
by DCM Fred Jacques.
CARICOM Views on Haiti
¶3. (C) The Brazilian Ambassador began the discussion, asking
for CARICOM’s position on Haiti. FM Miller responded that
Secretary Rice had assured CARICOM Foreign Ministers during
their March 21-22 meeting in the Bahamas that the USG is
prepared to “stay the course” in Haiti. Miller said the USG
position was good news and important to know, adding that now
more than ever in Haiti all are needed. The FM believes
CARICOM will welcome Haitian President-Elect Rene Preval to
their Heads of Government (HOG) meeting in St. Kitts in July,
assuming Haitian parliamentary elections go forward as
planned so that an inauguration can take place. (Note:
Miller did not say whether or not Preval could attend the
July HOG meeting if he has not been sworn in by then. End
¶4. (C) Miller said CARICOM Foreign Ministers plan to take up
the Haiti question at their April 24-25 meeting in Grenada.
Discussion there will identify areas of assistance, e.g.,
building civil institutions. Miller remarked that CARICOM
has great potential for assisting Haiti and wants very much
to be engaged in that country. At the Grenada meeting,
Miller plans to push for all CARICOM countries that can
assist Haiti to do so now. She pointed out that CARICOM
countries such as Barbados that have a strong history of
stability, democracy, and rule of law should provide Haiti
with technical assistance in improving civil institutitions.
Miller characterized current Haitian civil institutions as
weak and corrupt, noting that any democracy in Haiti will
remain weak and corrupt as well if the institutions do not
¶5. (C) The Foreign Minister said Haiti has remained at the
table for CARICOM trade negotiations throughout the
post-Aristide period. She reminded the group that Haiti has
a population of 8 million people and the rest of CARICOM
together has less than 6 million, so all members stand to
benefit from trade with this large block of the regional
market in the future. Miller said Barbados is eager to
welcome Haiti to all the tables of CARICOM. She said Haiti
will be categorized as the poorest of the poor in the world
of trade and assistance, so the country will need funds
available for a number of initiatives; CARICOM cannot afford
to help Haiti without financial assistance from the
¶6. (C) Miller noted that the Foreign Minister from Brazil
will be at the CARICOM Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Grenada
to hear how CARICOM will become re-engaged in Haiti. Miller
welcomed Brazil’s participation and reminded the Brazilian
Ambassador that Haiti needs long-term military assistance.
Miller warned that Brazil must not “fold the tents after the
election” and withdraw troops from Haiti.
WTO Waiver on CBI
¶7. (C) The Cuban Ambassador expressed interest in CARICOM’s
various trade partnerships and negotiating arenas, in
particular, Partial Scope Agreements (PSA) and the Caribbean
Basin Initiative (CBI) with the U.S. Miller responded that
the CBI has been around for many years, and was probably
meant to be more helpful to Central America, perhaps also to
Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, than to the Caribbean. She
reminded the group that the Caribbean’s trade relationship
with the U.S. is more valuable than the region’s trade with
either India or China. For that reason, CARICOM must have a
renewal of CBI, but such a renewal requires a waiver from the
WTO. Miller remarked that CARICOM understands the opposition
to the waiver from China, India, and Pakistan, but believes
an exception for small developing countries must be
¶8. (C) Miller observed that the developed countries have had
a good 60 years to prepare themselves for free trade and now
make the rules. CARICOM countries are simply fighting to
save their trading space – hence their fight for the CBI
waiver with the WTO. Miller offered to discuss any measure
that might appease those opposed to a CBI waiver. (Note:
Miller told the Ambassador privately that the Chinese “owe”
Barbados for all the favorable deals their state construction
company has won – and will continue to win – in Barbados.
End Note.) Miller noted that the CARICOM Heads had agreed to
move forward with PSAs (including with the U.S.) to benefit
Trinidad and Tobago’s energy exports. Miller said the U.S.
currently does not have PSAs in the region but is fond of
Desired Future for Regional and Global Trade
¶9. (C) Ambassador Kramer asked FM Miller to share CARICOM’s
vision of a desired future for regional and global trade.
The Foreign Minister responded that for over 300 years
Barbados has never openly traded sugar. Her country has
always had preferential treatment; sugar has almost always
been subsidized. Miller said Barbados has determined that
sugar is not the way forward; instead, the service industry
represents the most promising future. Though some CARICOM
countries have continued to rely on agriculture, she gave the
examples of sugar producers in Guyana, Belize, and Suriname,
now being undercut by Brazilian competition.
¶10. (C) Miller contrasted the limited negative impact to
Barbados from losing sugar preferences with the serious
economic hardship visited upon Dominica as a result of the
loss of preferential treatment for its banana exports. The
least developed of the Eastern Caribbean states is
constrained in switching to tourism because Dominica’s
geography makes the construction of a large-scale airport
difficult. Miller also highlighted the vulnerability of the
region to hurricane damage, pointing to the overnight
destruction of the total GDP of Grenada from Hurricane Ivan
in September 2004. The region depends on outside assistance
to recover from such economic setbacks.
The Future of Barbados – Trade in Services
¶11. (C) Miller then deferred to Minister of State in the MFA
(specializing in trade issues) Kerrie Symmonds to speak on
trade in services. Symmonds put forth trade in services as
the way of the future for Barbados. He illustrated how the
CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), with its
liberalized trade in services, will serve as a sort of
proving ground for competition in world markets. Symmonds
said service providers (such as accountants) must receive
accreditation to compete in the U.S. market; this
certification includes accreditation at the federal, state,
and local level. He also said the CSME “Competition
Commission” will measure how well service providers meet
international standards. He quipped that the new CSME
structure makes CARICOM members the domestic market: there
are no longer separate economies.
Security Requirements a Trade Barrier
¶12. (C) The PS for Trade, Samuel Chandler, entered the
discussion, noting how security regulation and requirements
have added cost to both exporters and governments. Miller
remarked on all the camera equipment at the port and airport,
saying, “These are not one-off expenses, they are recurring
expenses, but without them one risks the loss of
international access for the port and the airport.” Chandler
continued to discuss how security requirements have become
trade barriers, both for tourists and the private sector. He
observed that smaller economies must be more stringent with
security because of the potential of total wipeout, using the
example of how Avian Influenza could devastate the chicken
industry. For this reason, Chandler said governments like
Barbados’ are careful and take a long time to implement new
security measures. The PS also reminded the group that no
bilateral agreement of a CARICOM member state is possible
without notification of all other members.
Status of Costa Rican and Cuban Trade Agreements
¶13. (C) The Costa Rican Ambassador asked the Foreign Minister
about the status of CARICOM’s trade agreements with Costa
Rica and Cuba, recently passed in the Barbados Parliament.
PS for Trade Chandler indicated that the two measures
affecting Cuba and Costa Rica simply gave legal status in
Barbados to certain CARICOM agreements. (Note: Trade
agreements negotiated at the CARICOM level must still gain
parliamentary approval in each member state to become active.
End Note.) These agreements only await the Governor
General’s signature to be operational – meaning certain Costa
Rican and Cuban goods enter Barbados duty-free. Chandler
noted that the parties must still work out regulatory
procedures such as certain phyto-sanitary standards, and that
these regulations, while outside the realm of trade policy
agreements, must be observed.
CARICOM – Venezuela Trade
¶14. (C) The Venezuelan Ambassador asked for an update on her
country’s request to CARICOM for a full scope agreement.
Chandler said CARICOM already exports to Venezuela duty- and
tax-free. He said CARICOM recognizes that the Venezuela
agreement is asymmetric (providing benefits to CARICOM but
none to Venezuela), but noted there is not yet a formal
request from the Venezuelan side for the full scope
agreement. Chandler noted that Venezuela has serious
phyto-sanitary issues as well that could complicate
United Nations Reform
¶15. (C) The Venezuelan Ambassador then asked for Barbados and
CARICOM views on UN reform. FM Miller said Barbados and
CARICOM support UN reform and believe it is needed but only
if it means larger voices for small and developing countries.
She then deferred to MFA Deputy PS Charles Burnett, recently
returned from New York, where Security Council reform
dominated the UN agenda. Burnett explained that CARICOM
would support expansion, both permanent and nonpermanent, but
that the UNSC expansion must include both the developed and
the developing world.
¶16. (C) The Deputy PS reported that the G-4 resolution
confronted the issue of four countries seeking UNSC expansion
at the permanent level, but said this proposal divided
CARICOM. Burnett explained that some CARICOM countries are
for Brazilian and Indian membership on the council as
developing countries and others support the entire slate, to
include Japan and Germany. Then the issue of the veto arose:
CARICOM saw the veto issue as leading to two levels of
membership – one with veto and one without. He stated that
the U.S. held views very strongly and they were clearly and
forcefully articulated. Burnett recounted that, at one
point, it appeared the G-4 resolution would move forward with
support from France and the UK, but the “Asia dynamic”
between China and Japan resulted in its collapse.
¶17. (C) The Deputy PS also described the course-changing
influence on CARICOM representatives of the African Union
(AU) resolution (no permanent member recommendation, no
veto), after which the Africans disagreed among themselves.
Burnett allowed as how in the later stages of the UN reform
discussions, CARICOM envoys just monitored the debate as its
members could not agree on a single position.
¶18. (C) Such a frank and wide-ranging discussion between the
Barbados Government and senior diplomats is extremely rare.
The Barbadians normally hold embassies at arm’s length,
insisting on a rigorous adherence to protocol that stifles
open discussion. Barbados and FM Miller in particular are
CARICOM leaders in many areas of foreign affairs, and her
views on Haiti and trade likely hold true for most CARICOM