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                           Minister of Commerce, Consumer Affairs and Business Development, Senator Lynette Eastmond. 

This country’s Minister of Commerce, Consumer Affairs and Business Development, Senator Lynette Eastmond, is of the view that the “synergies to be derived from Barbados’ reconnection with Africa, have great potential for culture, the economy, trade and investment”.

She was today speaking at a business seminar, at United Nations (UN) House, in association with the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC), which focused on “Designing a Sustainable Development Model with Africa : the South, South Agenda.

 Senator Eastmond noted that as part of our foreign policy, “Barbados has set for itself a goal of reconnecting with the African continent”.  She pointed out several ways in which the current administration had sought to do so. “We have established formal diplomatic relations with Nigeria, Zambia, Tanzania, Niger, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, Ghana and Botswana.

 “Barbados has signed bilateral agreements with some of these countries which we consider necessary for cementing a firm and meaningful relationship. Some of the agreements are technical scientific and cultural cooperation agreements,” she said.

The Commerce Minister noted that it had always been government’s intention to foster greater ties with the African continent and the setting up of a Commission for Pan African Affairs (CPAA), in 1998 was testimony to this. According to her its mandate remained the same, “to build understanding, bridges and relationships”.

Senator Eastmond urged the private sector to “explore the possibility of engagement in meaningful commercial activity with Africa with the support and facilitation of government”.

Mr. Anton Norris, formerly of the BIDC, noted that despite sharing a unique cultural history with the African continent, “Barbados was yet to build a lasting bridge for trading with our neighbours across the Atlantic”.  He was of the opinion that today’s seminar would be “stimulating and mentally challenging and would generate ideas which would lead to the development of a strategy for fostering even greater ties with the African continent”.

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