Gov’t reaffirms commitment to enhance inter-regional links for trade, investment
The second annual AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum opened at the Marriott Hotel, Georgetown on Monday, with a sizeable contingent of African and Caribbean business leaders, heads of government, and investors in attendance.
In keeping with this year’s theme ‘Creating a shared Prosperous Future’, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hugh Todd, who delivered the welcoming remarks, reaffirmed the government’s commitment to expanding inter-regional links and implementing mechanisms to facilitate trade and investment.
He highlighted that the forum comes at a critical juncture in the history of international trade and economic relations, as countries continue to grapple with the economic drawbacks stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Along this vein, Minister Todd stressed the importance of private sector partnerships in forging a sustainable and resilient way forward regionally.
“There is more than US $1 billion in two-way trade potential between the Caribbean and Africa across a wide range of products and services. By addressing trade barriers to market access and directing investments into sectors with export potential, Caribbean countries can increase merchandise trade to Africa by over 50 per cent, and can further boost its services’ exports,” the minister asserted.
In exploiting export potential, Minister Todd said the two regions will be able to diversify their trade relations and be better equipped to navigate the international economy amidst a global crisis.
“To focus on trade, it is imperative that we address both tariff and non-tariff barriers to market access, and particularly do more to encourage trade from small businesses. Strengthening our trade and investment relations would only be one step in that direction, and this forum can help determine where our countries want to go in partnership with the Afreximbank,” he posited.
Meanwhile, Prof. Benedict Oramah, President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Afreximbank, outlined the historical significance of this platform and emphasised that it presents an integral opportunity for the building and fortification of an economic linkage that supports mutual socioeconomic, infrastructural, and tourism development.
“We would like to leave here with concrete plans to open banking and payment rails, seal joint ventures for industrial projects, deepen commercial collaboration in the creative and cultural space, including how to collectively protect our intellectual properties, and create institutional arrangements that will enable capacity building and greater daily engagements amongst ourselves,” he expressed.
The forum brings together heads of government, investors, and business leaders for dynamic discussions geared at promoting increased inter-regional trade and investment. It seeks to strengthen the ties between Africa and the Caribbean regions, fostering collaboration in areas such as technology, food security, tourism, and energy security.
The next two days will herald presentations and panel discussions exploring key areas of inter-regional development, such as developing special economic zones and industrial parks, promoting trade, tourism, and regional integration, improving agricultural activity and agribusiness, and opportunities for collaboration between Africa and the Caribbean in the oil and gas sector.
The opening segment of the forum also saw remarks from Secretary General of the CARICOM Secretariat, Carla Burnett, H.E. Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who was represented by Hon. Doris Uzoka-Anite, Nigerian Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, H.E. Azali Assoumani, President of the Union of the Comoros and Chairperson of the African Union, represented by H.E. Ahmed Ali Bazi, Minister of Economy, Industry, and Investments, Union of The Comoros, and Hon. Philip J. Pierre, Prime Minister of Saint Lucia.
ACTIF2023 is convened by the Government of Guyana, and the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank).