One of the world’s leading government consultancies, CS Global Partners is the official representative of the governments of Saint Lucia, the Commonwealth of Dominica, and Saint Kitts and Nevis, all of which participated in the first-ever Afri- Caribbean Trade and Investment Forum (ACTIF2022), held in Bridgetown, Barbados, from September 1-3, 2022.
The forum provided a new opportunity for the Caribbean and Africa to boost their relations. The theme of the forum was “One people, one destiny, unite and reinvent our future”, which defined different initiatives to deepen and establish new trade and investment relations between Africa and the Caribbean.
The three-day forum was organized by the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), the Government of Barbados in partnership with the African Union Commission (AUC), the Continental Free Trade Area Secretariat (AfCFTA), the Africa Business Council, the Caribbean Community Secretariat, and the Caribbean Export Development Agency.
Mia Amor Mottley, the Prime Minister of Barbados, said she was delighted to have been chosen as the host country for ACTIF 2022. She stressed that Africa and the Caribbean share similar roots and need to work and act together in different sectors. The participants are determined to build a trade bridge between the two regions for their prosperous future.
ACTIF 2022 was the first forum of its kind between the two regions and aimed to provide an opportunity for the Caribbean and African business communities, as well as governments, to establish new commercial and strategic relationships with the aim of expanding trade and investment between the two Regions. The high-level support between the two regions aims to boost bilateral cooperation and engagement in trade, investment, technology transfer, innovation, tourism, culture and other sectors. The forum also opened the doors to effective business matchmaking between the two regions.
The three-day conference featured various panel discussions on several topics, which were based on business-to-business engagements. Delegates discussed topics such as: the development of special economic zones (SEZs) and industrial parks; stimulate industrialization and manufacturing; improve infrastructure, finance and trade logistics, including regional integration, promote trade and tourism, create the environment to accelerate private sector investment, improve agricultural productivity and increase agribusiness opportunities and food security.
Along with this, the forum also witnessed the signing ceremony of two partnership agreements, 10 MoUs and three financing facilities. The star document of the forum, which signified the success of the summit, was the partnership agreement between seven members of the Caribbean Community and Afreximbank to promote and finance South-South trade and investment between Africa and the Caribbean. Its ultimate objective is to promote and provide insurance and guarantee services covering commercial and non-commercial risks related to African and Caribbean exports.
Caribbean countries such as Barbados, Republic of Suriname, Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis, Commonwealth of Dominica, Saint Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines have signed the agreement with the African Export-Import Bank.
The agreement will help boost knowledge sharing between Africa and the Caribbean region through technical cooperation, research and several joint events. It also has the potential to accelerate the membership of CARICOM countries in Afreximbank as it will enable the bank to operate in the region and realize the new vision.
In addition to this, in order to mobilize trade and investment between the two regions, Afreximbank has also signed a $250 million trade and investment agreement with the Central Bank of Barbados.
In addition, Afreximbank has underscored its objective of establishing import-export by signing a memorandum of understanding with the Association of Caribbean Banks. The signing ceremony was attended by hundreds of delegates including African and Caribbean business leaders and government officials discussing how to improve trade and investment between the two regions. It was signed by CAB Managing Director Wendy Delmar and Afreximbank Executive Vice President Denys Denya.
To support these efforts, the African-Caribbean Business Council, the CARICOM Private Sector Organization and Afreximbank have also signed another MoU. The rest of the notes included Ghana Export Promotion Authority and Barbados Investment and Development Corporation signed by Hill of BIDC and Dr Afua Asare of GEPA, and BIDC, Dr Joseph Obeng of GUTA and Anthony Branker from BCCI, Ghana Trade Association and Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry. signed by Hill.
Various senior government officials, business leaders, business association representatives, potential investors and buyers, project developers, development agencies, multilateral financial institutions, think tanks and research institutes from Africa and the Caribbean were present at ACTIF 2022 with over 1,500 delegates representing 93 countries (including 48 African countries, 12 Caribbean countries and 33 other countries).
The specific objectives of ACTIF2022 were:
- Promotion of interbank relations, which includes financial flows and promotion of payment.
- Development of cultural and creative engagements between two regions that can be commercially viable.
- Creation of a business case for a possible Afro-Caribbean Free Trade Area.
- Create an appropriate platform that helps disseminate trade and investment information and other products and initiatives of the bank, which will support trade between Africa and Africans in the Diaspora.
- Helps reduce the perception of counterparty risk among African and Caribbean businesses that deal with each other.
- Promoting trade and investment between Africa and the Caribbean as a forum served as a platform for identifying markets, building business partnerships, exchanging trade and market information and co-investments.
- The forum also facilitates Afro-Caribbean investment by promoting and strengthening cross-regional trade and investment ties.