12 Partnership Agreements, MoUs Raise Hope for Africa, Caribbean Trade Integration

The signing of partnership agreements and Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) by representatives of corporate entities that attended the maiden AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum in Bridgetown, Barbados has raised hope for the integration of the Caribbean into African trade.

Specifically, two partnership agreements, 10 MoUs and three finance facilities were consummated at the trade meeting tagged ACTIF 2022 which came to a close on Friday night.

The star document, which signified the success of the intercontinental summit, was the partnership agreement between Afreximbank and seven members of the Caribbean Community to promote and finance South-South trade and investment between Africa and the Caribbean.

It also aimed at the promotion and provision of insurance and guarantee services covering commercial and non-commercial risks associated with African and Caribbean exports.

“We welcome the signing of the Partnership Agreement between Afreximbank and seven Caribbean Governments of Barbados, Antigua & Barbuda, Commonwealth of Dominica, Saint Lucia, Suriname, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and encourage other Caribbean states to sign and ratify the Partnership Agreement expeditiously and become partner countries,” the participants said in a communique released at the end of the forum.

“Two more members of CARICOM are expected to sign the agreement in a matter of days,” an elated President and Chairman of the Board of Afreximbank, Prof. Benedict Oramah, told journalists at the closing press conference.

His optimism was backed by the Prime Minister of Barbados, Hon. Amor Mottley QC, who said AfriCaribbean trade integration was an idea whose time had come.

Afreximbank also signed a $250 million Trade and Investment Agreement with the Central Bank of Barbados (CBB) to mobilise trade and investment between Africa and the Caribbean in collaboration with the CBB and local banks in Barbados.

According to the agreement signed by CBB Governor, Mr. Cleviston Haynes; CBB Business and Finance Strategist, Mr. Ian Colleymore; and the Executive Vice President, Inter-African Trade Bank of Afreximbank, Dr. Kanayo Awani, Afreximbank will work with the CBB to promote its instruments of intervention with public and private enterprises to provide financing (funded and unfunded) to Caribbean entities to grow the volumes of trade and investment.

It will also promote knowledge sharing between Africa and the CARICOM through technical cooperation, research and joint events.

Oramah had at the start of the forum on Thursday expressed the bank’s plan to facilitate the establishment of a Caribbean Exim Bank as part of the strategy to finance the push for increased trade between the two continents, promising a $700 million investment in the region regarded as the sixth of Africa’s by the African Union.

On Friday, the bank’s plan to establish the export-import bank got a boost with the signing of an MoU with the Caribbean Association of Banks to facilitate the attainment of the objective.

The signing took place in the presence of hundreds of delegates comprising African and Caribbean business leaders and government officials who had been discussing how to improve trade and investment between the two continents.

The Mou was signed by the Chief Executive Officer, CAB, Mr. Wendy Delmar, and the Executive Vice President of Afreximbank, Mr. Denys Denya.

Afreximbank also signed a separate MoU with the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation to assist the corporation in its investment drive for the host country. The Chief Executive Officer, Export Barbados, Mr. Mark Hill, and Denya were the signatories.

Intent on sustaining these efforts, another MoU was signed to establish the Africa-Caribbean Business Council involving the Africa Business Council, CARICOM Private Sector Organisation and Afreximbank.

Other memos that were signed included Ghana Export Promotion Authority and Barbados Investment and Development Corporation signed by BIDC’s Hill and GEPA’s Dr. Afua Asare; and BIDC, Ghana Union of Trade Association and Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry signed by Hill; GUTA’s Dr. Joseph Obeng and BCCI’s Mr. Anthony Branker.

Three Nigerian companies, MRS Oil & Gas, Woodhall Capital Limited and Ganic Food Limited also secured financing facilities from Afreximbank to expand their businesses.

Over 1,200 participants from 41 African countries, 16 Caribbean countries and 25 non-African and non-Caribbean countries attended the Forum, in which 25 Heads of Governments either personally participated or sent high-level representatives.

The participants, in their communique at the end of the event, committed to supporting actions that would contribute to building and strengthening private sector economic, investment, and trade relationships between Africa and the Caribbean.

“We resolve to strengthen collaboration and engagements between Africa and the Caribbean, including through the institutionalization of the AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum as a platform for annual bilateral engagement,” they said.

The Government of Barbados and Afreximbank, in collaboration with the African Union Commission, the AfCFTA Secretariat, the Africa Business Council, the CARICOM Secretariat and the Caribbean Export Development Agency organised the trade meeting that was co-managed by Invest Barbados and Export Barbados.

ACTIF2022 was one of the outcomes of an official Afreximbank visit to Barbados in September 2021, which followed the month’s inaugural Africa/CARICOM Summit.

The Government of Barbados and Afreximbank had during the visit, identified the 2022 AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum as a key strategic activity towards institutionalising the engagement between both regions’ private sectors to advance trade and investment relations.   

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