Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley believes there are tremendous investment opportunities in Barbados and Africa, but sees the need for a working group to be set up to ensure a channel for information flow.
Ms. Mottley expressed this view on Wednesday evening after she and the President of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), Professor Benedict Oramah, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), at Ilaro Court.
The Prime Minister said: “When we met, you spoke about the things that have been able to promote trade in Africa, in particular the trade information portal. And we believe that through the establishment of a joint working group between our private sector and your bank and elements of the African private sector, that we can also begin to ensure that that information flow that is so necessary to trade in goods or services can begin to happen.
“We know that there are tremendous opportunities, but unless people can see them firsthand, they are not going to have the confidence to invest in them as we would like.”
Ms. Mottley stressed the importance of a direct link between Africa and the Caribbean, and said it was up to us as independent nations to build those bridges, so air and sea transport would be readily available.
“We accept that with the air transport market we will have to probably start with charters. And we accept that there is an increasingly large middle-class across Africa who have a desire to want to travel and for whom the Caribbean can be that place, which is home away from home. And we hope we can work with you and other countries in Africa to be able to do so,” she stated.
Ms. Mottley said when she was Chairman of CARICOM, she worked with the Afreximbank and those who established the African medical supplies platform, so CARICOM could benefit from bulk procurement by Africa of PPEs and vaccines. She pointed out that those opportunities for other bulk procurement were there.
“We spoke about the fact that many of our countries have aged infrastructure for water and therefore we are securing prices on the basis of a limited and small market rather than seeing where else we can go with the bulk procurement,” she explained.
The Prime Minister said the Afreximbank was a success in facilitating trade within Africa in local currency, and Government wanted to learn more about that process. She added that she looked forward to cooperation among CARICOM, Africa and the bank.
“The opportunities for the African free trade area and the CSME to cooperate are many and we hope that in the next year we can start to be very specific about what opportunities we can benefit from,” she added.
Professor Oramah said the MOU sets out the vision of how to promote the trade and investment flows between Africa and the Caribbean. “I think that today we began the process of concretising the aspirations our leadership has for the relationship between these two regions,” he suggested.
The President thanked the Prime Minister for the “fantastic work” she had done over the years to strengthen relations with Africa.
“I would like to assure the people of Barbados and CARICOM…that we will do what we have to do to make sure that the Caribbean returns to Africa and Africa embraces the Caribbean…. We look forward to being here again as we advance on this effort,” he stressed.