A new foreign policy is coming for Barbados, with greater attention being given to Africa.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Senator Maxine McClean announced this morning that she was currently reviewing a draft of that policy.
“The Government of Barbados, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, is actively reviewing our foreign policy as we seek, among other things, to better engage with the continent of Africa and more especially, South Saharan Africa. In fact, I’m currently reviewing the draft of that policy,” she disclosed as she delivered the feature address at the official opening of the 15th Annual International Academy Of African Business Development Conference at the Errol Barrow Centre For Creative Imagination, University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus.
The minister observed that while Barbados has had diplomatic ties with African countries since Independence in 1966 and at various multilateral fora, not enough has been done regarding bilateral engagements so far, particularly as they relate to trade and other commercial activities.
“The theme of this conference –– The Development And Sustainability Of African Business: The Role Of The Diaspora –– speaks to the need to address this obvious shortcoming,” she said.
“It will, I trust, also move beyond what I describe as common to many academic and indeed political deliberations of this nature – that is, there is often much time taken to discuss, to describe and even diagnose [but] not enough time and thinking typically goes into deciding what must be done.”
McClean added that she hoped that at the end of the three-day conference, a clear and time-bound agenda for change would be identified to breathe life into the theme.
“Critical to this of course would be what I would call a framework for cooperation,” she added.
Pointing to the African Caribbean Pacific (ACP) grouping, the minister said the consensus is that its future lays in deepening and diversifying relationships among the member-states, and more specifically, among the countries of Africa and the Caribbean. She said she did not believe that engagement at the governmental level could, by itself, achieve the desired benefits. The senator argued that while there must be the political will to create the appropriate enabling environment, it was essential that people, the established business communities, civil society organizations, academics, and labour movements recognize that many opportunities abound, and also demonstrate the will to pursue them.