What organisers described as a resoundingly successful AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum (ACTIF2023) ended in Guyana on Tuesday evening with the African Export/Import Bank (Afreximbank) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) committed to upgrading and diversifying their economies and productive capacities through boosting trade and investments between both regions.
At the conclusion of the two-day event held under the theme Creating A Shared Prosperous Future, hosted by the Guyana government and initiated by Afreximbank, the two regions also pledged to ease constraints to trade finance, trade services and trade payments.
According to a joint communiqué read to reporters by Guyana’s Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Elizabeth Anne-Harper, Afreximbank and Caribbean governments also agreed to request the African Union, CARICOM, the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States and other relevant stakeholders to formalise African/Caribbean political relations as a means to advance economic cooperation in bilateral trade and investment.
There was also a commitment to explore an Africa-Caribbean free trade area to enhance market access and trade and to undertake to work with partners which include the African Business Council, the CARICOM Private Sector Organisation and the International Trade Centre.
An undertaking was also made to operationalise the Africa Business Council as a platform to enhance private sector collaboration.
They welcomed the deals generated at the forum and commitment by African and Caribbean businesses to invest in various sectors including energy, tourism, construction, aquaculture, agriculture and creative and cultural industries, the communiqué said.
The business and political leadership also devoted themselves to encouraging all remaining CARICOM countries to sign and expeditiously ratify the partnership agreement with Afreximbank and become partner countries as a means to enhance bilateral incoming cooperation and unlock financing to Afreximbank, to boost AfroCaribbean trade and investment.
The forum also took the position to urge collaborating partners, particularly development financing institutions in both regions, to fast-track the development, financing products and deployment of resources to support the growth of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.
The delegate/leaders also committed to support and collaborate towards convening an AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum 2024, and the platform to enhance investment and the mutual prosperity of Africa and the Caribbean.
This year’s ACTIF, the second following the initial forum in Guyana in August last year, saw the participation of close to 1 500 attendees from 33 countries and the participation of some 30 businesses.
The curtain came down on the event on Tuesday with a first-class party and cultural show at which popular Barbadian entertainer Rickey Lil Rick Reid performed.
On Monday, the attendees to the trade and investment forum took in the President’s Cocktail Reception and cultural showcase held at his official State House residence.