Barbados is keen to establish its first African diplomatic mission in South Africa, but financial constraints have delayed the plan.
Establishing stronger ties with other countries, including Ghana, Nigeria and Liberia was also being considered, Minister of Foreign Affairs Senator Maxine McClean said today.
She was leading off debate on the Value Added Tax (Barbados Network Programme) (Validation) Bill, 2012 in the upper chamber.
“For many of us a critical part of our Diaspora heritage is the continent of Africa and to date there is no Barbadian diplomatic mission on the continent, even though we maintain diplomatic ties with a number of countries (including) Ghana, South Africa, Nigeria etc and this matter I am happy to say is under active review and discussion with several officials of a number of countries, South Africa being one of those,” the minister said.
She singled out South Africa for its “relative importance” in the world when compared to the so called increasingly influential BRIC countries, namely Brazil, Russia, India and China.
“Politically, from my perspective, South Africa remains a pivotal continental actor which exerts enormous influence in bringing African states together,” she noted.
“And in the same way that we talk about Brazil and being one of the BRIC countries as such, South Africa also commands significant global recognition and it has signalled its commitment to articulating the interest and supporting the cause of developing states like those of Barbados and the CARICOM members and countries across the continent of Africa.
“And therefore it is seen as an obvious jurisdiction for our first mission. Unfortunately we had to delay those things; financial constraints are a reality. I know a number of people questioned why we have these entities, but if people take advantage of the opportunities that are facilitated by our presence in various jurisdictions we then are in a position to take advantage,” she added.
She pointed out that the island already had some strong connections with the mentioned African states and others since there were a number of Barbadians living and working there. (SC)