Potential opportunities for trade and doing business between Barbados and Kenya were highlighted when business leaders met with Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta during a Business Forum.
Among the areas identified for potential investment were the finance and medical health sectors; affordable housing; the coconut water industry; technological innovation; renewable energy; the blue economy; water sports; labour and small business.
These areas were outlined by the Prime Minister, the Kenyan President and business leaders during the forum entitled: Strengthening Trade and Investment Cooperation within the ACP Framework at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, on Thursday.
During her opening address, Prime Minister Mottley said that she hoped that as they created a framework in terms of agreements and regulations that the interest of Barbados’ private sector would be sparked to invest with Kenya and the wider East Africa.
“All of us know that Barbados is seeking to come out of an economic recession, but we must never find ourselves again in a position where we are dependent purely on the economic activity that takes place on this 166 square miles. This country is liquid,” she pointed out, noting that the country presently had $9 billion in savings.
Ms. Mottley said one area that could be considered for partnership was mass manufacturing, where countries like Kenya could create that production base that would make a difference with the right trade and investment agreements.
She added that Barbados could also maximize opportunities in areas such as the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals and replacements for single use plastics.
During his remarks, President Kenyatta described the visit as “the opening and beginning of a new partnership” between the two countries.
“Ultimately, we have discussed and agreed since yesterday (Wednesday)…. that we want this relationship to be more strongly founded on our economic partnerships. This is because we can be here and speak of culture, arts, sports, education and health. But, it has to be grounded in something much more; something that also brings our people together; something that grows our respective economies; something that brings prosperity to our people,” he said.
He described the forum as a great occasion to understand that a partnership between the two countries was an important opportunity to initiate trade and investment ideas and declare tangible outcomes.
“We want to ensure that our business communities benefit from this bilateral relationship, and use tangible trade and investment ideas to move our nations up the foreign investment value chain and attract investment…,” he said, noting Kenya was signatory to a number of treaties within its region, just as Barbados had similar arrangements throughout CARICOM.
However, the Kenyan President pointed out that to make this all possible, the right mechanisms needed to be in place to facilitate the process.
“One of the keys is to ensure that issues of double taxation, protection of investment, and other such trade and treaty arrangements that protect business is something that we want to foster,” Mr. Kenyatta said.