New Barbados WikiLeaks – Billie Miller confidential to US Ambassador: “Chinese owe Barbados for the favourable state construction deals…”

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…

China

“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.

KRAMER

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

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

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
VE, XL
SUBJECT: BARBADOS FOREIGN MINISTER ON HAITI, TRADE, AND UN
REFORM

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

SIPDIS
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
Note.)

¶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

improve.

¶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
international community.

¶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
available.

¶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
PSA-type agreements.

——————————————–
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
negotiations.

———————
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.

——-
Comment
——-

¶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
members.
KRAMER

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8 Comments

Filed under Barbados, CARICOM, China, Haiti, History, Politics

8 responses to “New Barbados WikiLeaks – Billie Miller confidential to US Ambassador: “Chinese owe Barbados for the favourable state construction deals…”

  1. Harry

    Totally boring.
    Kramer was a rather uninteresting American housewife posted down here as a reward for political favors.
    I suppose she felt obliged to report on her meet and greets so that it might look as though she was doing something in addition to splashing the sun-tan oil on.
    Just goes to show how insignificant we really are in the great scheme of things.

  2. I think BFP could do a better job if they relied on their own original story where they promised ages ago to do an expose on Money Laundering? Also they claimed to have found documents thrown away with sensitive details as fodder for future issues? What happened?

  3. John

    “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.”

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Sad to see Dame Billie does not know her history!!

    I don’t think it is true to say sugar has always been subsidized in the 300 plus years of the existence of Barbados, but I could be wrong.

    I have always read that sugar prices fluctuated all over the shop based on demand and supply.

    Maybe she is relying on her recent memory like all politicians do.

  4. J. Payne

    Well kinda.. What she might? be talking about is surrounding the Treaty of Oistins a.k.a. “Barbado(e)s Charter” (1652). It guaranteed the rights of the freeholders, it also stated: “That no taxes, customs, imports or excise shall be laid, nor levy made on any of the inhabitants of this island without their consent in a General Assembly.”
    Later In 1663 though, an agreement was put in place for a 4.5% export duty on all of Barbados’ goods. This was to be used to pay for maintaining the autonomy of Barbados’ governmental funding. By having the power to tax local exports to Britain, Barbados was able to make its own income and thus could do what it needed to do on the island. Essentially Barbados’ sugar would have been subsidised in a way…..

    What I find interesting, in those days Barbados was one the richest of England’s colonies. It WAS also completely eco friendly! I’ve read it had the second highest number of windmills outside of Holland (probably due to Sir William Courteen’s half Dutch roots). But how many windmills does Barbados have running now? As a people, we’ve switched everything to be powered by fossil fuels. (To our own detriment now mind you.)
    I would love to learn the skill of building my own windmill because you never know if something badd could happen in this world and it needed to be revived. (God forbid.)

  5. John

    There is one running windmill which was restored, struck by lightning and then repaired. It took several years to restore.

    There were at one time more than 500 windmills that ground sugar cane until steam gradually replaced wind from the 1850’s.

    I watched when the Morgan Lewis Mill was being restored and I was quite amazed to realise we had the ability with no heavy lifting cranes or equipment to construct and maintain 500 plus such beasts year in year out.

    Block and tackle, ropes and human brain power.

    Colin Hudson put the horsepower of a sugar windmill at about what a garden lawnmower of today would have!!! The power of gasolene!!

    Sugar output in 1698 was 13,477 tons.

    In 1735, 6230 tons, 1770 8635 tons and 1816 14,431 tons.

    Total output in 1836 was 18,621 tons.

    It passed 50,000 tons for the first time in 1887 and 100,000 tons in 1938.

    The highest output was recorded in 1968 when it passed the 200,000 ton mark.

    Up till the early 1900’s, the individual planters sold their produce and got for it what the market permitted. On many occasions the sugar price dipped to the point where the demise of sugar was imminent.

    I would imagine that this is probably where Bajans learned the skill of thrift, because a good price one year was inevitably followed by a low price so it was important to prepare for a bad year during a good year.

    Source of outputs: George Washington’s Visit to BArbados, Compiled by Richard B. Goddard

  6. John

    For the majority of the history of the sugar industry there was never a subsidised steady price like what existed for a time in recent memory.

    Immense fluctuations were normal.

  7. J. Payne

    I stand corrected. Those fluctuations would seem that income wouldn’t be steady.

  8. J. Payne

    I’m thinking that playing one G8 nation against another might not be a bad policy though. To my mind none of them went to lose out when their competitor is gaining. Take Cuba for example. The USA has an “embargo” on Cuba but they have allowed (in more recent years) American goods to be sold there. The U.S. Congress is also agitated that the Cubans have been awarding oil drilling contracts to the Europeans (and the embargo meant American companies are shut out and can’t even bid.) Furthermore, Canada hasn’t recognized the American’s embargo either. So literally everyone else but the Americans were gaining by Cuba’s market of 12-13 million.
    Now they want to open it up simply for that.