Jamaica’s Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Dr Andrew Wheatley, informed the House of Representatives this afternoon that Jamaica is being affected by sanctions issued under an executive order imposed on Venezuela in August by US President Donald Trump.
According to Dr Wheatley, as a result of the executive order (EO 13808), payments to and from Petrojam, Jamaica’s only petroleum refinery, which is jointly owned by the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica(PCJ) and Venezuela’s PDV Caribe, a subsidiary of Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), have been subjected to increased due diligence by primary financiers/suppliers of lines of credit, as well as intermediary banks, pending clarification on whether the EO is applicable to Petrojam.
He told the House that, in addition to disruptions and delays in the transactions for Petrojam, sovereign debt payments due by the Jamaica government under the 2001 Caracas agreement, and various other loan agreements which were due and payable to the Venezuelan government were withheld by the US Federal Reserve Bank, and others, in order to facilitate their own due diligence process.
“Although those funds were ultimately released, explanations and proof of business transactions have now become the standard requirement for all transactions by the banks, occasioning significant process delays, he said.
He said that in the meantime Jamaica’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Kamina Johnson Smith, has met with the US Assistant Secretary of State in mid-September to seek the department’s intervention.
Jamaica has made the case that, as with the Caracas Agreement of 2001, long-term arrangements which precede the EO should be outside the scope of the new order.
Jamaica has also made it clear that Petrojam is neither wholly owned nor controlled by the Venezuelan government, and is a public company registered in Jamaica and controlled by the government of Jamaica.
However, he said that despite the fact that the US Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) agreement with the position, Petrojam and Jamaica continue to be affected by the increased due diligence imposed by local and international banks to protect themselves from breaching the executive order.