Chairman of Invest Barbados addresses launch of AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum (ACTIF) 2022

Welcome to the inaugural AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum 2022, which we in Barbados are most honoured and proud to host.

It is not hyperbole to suggest that today should rank among THE MOST IMPORTANT DAYS in the post-colonial and post-independence history of our regions. The significance of this ACTIF 2022 Forum and the three days of planned events and engagements under the theme One People – One Destiny, Uniting and Reimagining Our Future, is not lost on us.

The nations of Africa, many of which are participating in this ground-breaking forum, as well as the countries of the Caribbean, share a rich yet difficult history that has been both shaped and also scarred by centuries of slavery, separation and colonialism.

However, this event is part of a new era, a new approach.  For us at Invest Barbados, it is the evidence of a relationship that our government, led by our Prime Minister, the Hon. Mia Amor Mottley, has deliberately and strategically nurtured. Not only because it is economically beneficial, but because it is simply in best interest of all of our peoples.

The team at Invest Barbados, under our energetic CEO Kaye Greenidge, has been working diligently with sister agency Export Barbados, led by CEO Mr. <strong>Mark Hill</strong>, together with Professor <strong>Benedict Oramah</strong>, the President and Chair of the African Export-Import Bank, along with his bank’s experts, to make this event a reality.

The team at Invest Barbados, under our energetic CEO Kaye Greenidge, has been working diligently with sister agency Export Barbados, led by CEO Mark Hill, together with Professor Benedict Oramah, the President and Chair of the African Export-Import Bank, along with his bank’s experts, to make this event a reality.

Professor Oramah, we acknowledge your commitment to this Forum by assigning it the highest priority for your team. Our cross border collaboration to make today a reality is a shining example of the possibilities that exist

Global Change

This inaugural forum provides us with an opportunity to work collectively and cooperatively to address the huge issues that we all face.    We are all living in a period of global economic uncertainty and geopolitical upheaval. The result is that peoples of the South, including Africa and the Caribbean, are often caught in the middle with real life, negative consequences.

In the financial world, there are efforts by larger countries to determine global tax policy for the entire world., and we also are confronted with critical matters related to de-risking and lack of financial inclusion. In agriculture and trade, Africa and the Caribbean face similar challenges in ensuring food security in the wake of the war in Ukraine.

It can seem daunting – the responsibility that we carry to improve the lives of our citizens and promote the development of our economies. We are confident, however, that the goals we set for ourselves can be achieved through working together.

Indeed, our collective capacity is much more powerful than our individual forces. We have seen this in action during the COVID-19 pandemic when Barbados and the Caribbean Community successfully coordinated with the African Medical Supplies Platform to access much needed COVID-19 vaccines.

This was at a time when industrialised nations were hoarding supplies for their own populations, while less endowed nations struggled to access drugs and medical supplies.

Of note, it was Afreximbank, that raised US$3 billion to help finance this extensive vaccine and medical supplies initiative, from which we in this region benefited;  Professor Oramah – we thank you on behalf of many.

Alliances

Today, your presence here in Barbados is an indication of your willingness and desire to begin shifting the balance of power more in our favour through strategic alliances in trade and investment, agri-business, finance, logistics, tourism, the cultural and creatives industries, and business facilitation.

These are the kinds of partnerships that we in Barbados and the Caribbean wish to foster. Invest Barbados and Export Barbados are eager and available conduits in pursuit of these goals.

Among our objectives over the coming days are to enhance our inter-banking relationships; encouraging increased trade and investment between the Caribbean and Africa by creating that enabling space for market identification, the building of partnerships and alliances – and the sharing of trade and market information upon which to advance our mutual causes.

Through ACTIF 2022, we also want to explore and enable a possible AfriCaribbean Free Trade Area; develop creative and cultural industries partnerships; and importantly, to propagate products and initiatives of the African Export-Import Bank that support trade between Africa, Africans, and the diaspora, while also reducing counterpart risk perception among African and Caribbean enterprises of doing business among themselves.

We do not see these goals as a Barbados-only endeavour. These are objectives that we desire for the entire Caribbean. To this end, we have with us the very top tier of governmental officials including leaders of several CARICOM states and the Secretary General of the CARICOM.

Work to be done

So what are some of the practical and realistic options available to achieve these objectives?  By way of example here in Barbados, we have built an investment platform in international business that is buoyed by anextensive bilateral tax and investment treaty network.

Over the past four decades, more than 40 such arrangements have been ratified with jurisdictions around the world. We are happy to inform you that our treaty negotiation teams are at various stages of discussions to establish similar treaties with several African and Latin American nations.

There is absolutely no reason why multinational corporations in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, or indeed any other country represented here today cannot afford themselves of the advantages that North American and European corporates enjoy from investment in Barbados.

For instance, Corporations and entities around the world are seeking to establish captive insurance companies – and Barbados is among the Top 10 domiciles for such special insurance products.

Similarly, the expansion of our diplomatic footprint on the continent is also representative of our desire to change the narrative and seek to correct some misperceptions about how our relationships with countries on the African continent ought to evolve. To this end, we have also partnered with CARICOM through shared diplomatic offices in Nairobi, Kenya headed by Ambassador Alex McDonald.  In addition Barbados now has in place a Charge de Affaires and Commercial Attaché, in Accra, Ghana.

We wish to therefore use this event as an opportunity to fashion a future that showcases our mutual strengths and capacity to do great things collectively.

A new and exciting future is unfolding, and we must be prepared and positioned to follow through.

Earlier this month, Barbados introduced visa waivers for 24 African countries in a move to enhance business and investment opportunities, and to facilitate the ease of travel for tourists. This is a tangible example of our desire to facilitate the exploration of the possibilities that exist – and to help remove literal barriers to entry.

Additionally, many of you attending this Forum were spared the excessively long flight route through Europe, by connecting via direct charters to the island. This is another opportunity for growth in the travel and tourism sector.

In closing we wish to thank our partner institutions in Barbados, the Caribbean and Africa for sharing in the vision, as well as our Platinum, Gold and Silver sponsors and our Exhibitors who have demonstrated confidence in what we are seeking to accomplish here.

We wish all of you a productive and enjoyable period of engagement, discussion, and appreciation of everything Barbados and the Caribbean has to offer.

Follow on Instagram

Stay in touch with the conversation, subscribe to the RSS feed for comments on this post.

Comments

add a comment

Some HTML is OK

or, reply to this post via trackback.

  • 1 IMG 20220525 WA0014
  • Chef Richelle v6
  • TrIDent 1
  • BR2 If you saw this then you came to the best place to get seen