Africa and Caribbean eye US$16 trillion south-south trade potential


The President of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana Mohamed Irfaan Ali has challenged the regional private sector to collaborate with their African counterparts to develop a consortium, to solve some of the perennial challenges facing the region, including transportation.

Speaking at the AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum (ACTIF23) ongoing in Georgetown, Guyana, Ali said “every single state of CARICOM has made it clear that we will give all the incentives necessary to facilitate the building of a regional transport infrastructure system to solve the problem of regional transportation.

“All the governments in the region, we have made it clear, we will support such a consortium on investment through incentives and promotion. The private sector must get up and put that consortium in place, partner with Afreximbank and end this problem.”

The two-day forum is being organised by the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank).

Ali’s remarks came as he noted that the south-south trade potential between Africa and the Caribbean is estimated at US$16 trillion, and there are multiple opportunities on which the countries of the regions can capitalise. The Guyanese president also called on Africa and the Caribbean to build stronger bonds based on friendship, love, and prosperity.

President Ali added that the Caribbean and Africa have an opportunity to expand their partnership in a different way: “The colonisers’ goal was to expand the slave trade; in honour of those men and women who we lost in the most horrendous form, we now have an opportunity to rewrite history, of collaborating and expanding partnerships for the prosperity of the people of our two regions.”

For his part, Hugh Hilton Todd, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Guyana, further spoke of the potential for expansion of south-south trade, across a wide range of products and services. He said by working together, they can increase exports in innovative and technological areas for comparative and competitive advantage.

Also speaking at the same event, Philip J. Pierre, Prime Minister of St. Lucia, added that the two regions have much to gain from sharing best practices. He said through ACTIF, they were developing a vital link which could help to build resilient economies. He went further, stating that to achieve this, direct transportation between the regions is a tangible goal they must strive to achieve.

Carla Natalie Barnett, Secretary-General of the CARICOM Secretariat, also highlighted the numerous opportunities for collaboration and trade. She stated that trade data shows limited exports and imports between the regions. However, a study by the International Trade Centre (ITC) reveals great potential for trade between Africa and the Caribbean, with the services sector being the greatest opportunity for the Caribbean, while Africa has 2.2 times more potential to export goods to the Caribbean.

Meanwhile, in a video message, Dr Pamala Coke-Hamilton, Director of the ITC, pledged the organization’s assistance with advancing the work of the African Caribbean Business Council launched at the last ACTIF 2022. She insisted that more can be achieved through interregional cooperation.

Following the official opening, delegates at ACTIF23 were treated to four insightful sessions on ‘One Year of AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Revival: Lessons from Experience’, ‘Options for overcoming financing constraints to AfriCaribbean trade and investment cooperation,’ ‘Connecting Africa and the Caribbean: logistics, transport links, payment systems, standards, and more,’ and ‘Opportunities in the Oil and Gas sector.’

ACTIF23 is being hosted under the theme ‘Creating a Shared Prosperous Future’ in Georgetown, Guyana, by African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) and the Government of Guyana. The Forum is focused on accelerating commercial collaboration between the Caribbean region and Africa, increasing inter-regional trade and investment, and promoting airlinks, tourism, technology transfer, financial stability, food security, industrialisation and cultural ties.

Afreximbank opened a Caribbean office in Barbados in August 2023 and has provided a USD 1.5 billion line of credit to the region.


Source: Daily Mail GH

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