CARICOM Ready To Deepen Investment And Trade With Africa

Author: Melissa Rollock/BGIS

Africa accounted for only two per cent of the Caribbean Community’s (CARICOM) total trade in 2018, prior to the disruption from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since then, trade between the two regions has been negatively impacted.

However, Secretary General of CARICOM, Dr. Carla Barnett, believes the AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum, which got underway today at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, is an important first step in expanding and deepening trade relations between the African continent and CARICOM.

The Secretary General pointed out during the opening ceremony that the potential to do business with Africa was “tremendous”, noting that the market represented by the African continental free trade arrangement was set to reach US $6.7 trillion in value by 2035.

She further stated that in order to grow trade and investment flows between the Caribbean Community and Africa, the infrastructure such as air and maritime distribution and transportation channels, needed to be strengthened and streamlined.

“We need to move to establish a multilateral air services agreement between African countries and the Community. Using this forum, and other mechanisms such as our mutual membership in the Organisation of African Caribbean and Pacific States, we can continue to promote and forge business to business contacts through networks of private sector organisations and business development support organisations such as our Caribbean Export, which is our regional trade and investment promotion agency. We at CARICOM look forward to concluding the memorandum of understanding between the Secretariats of CARICOM and the African Union to strengthen collaboration to support this process,” Dr. Barnett stated.

To illustrate the need for greater relations in trade, she explained that in 2018, CARICOM exports to the rest of the world stood at US $18.6 billion with total exports to Africa at only US $815 million. CARICOM exports to Africa represented 4.4 per cent of its exports. In that same year, CARICOM imports from the world totalled US $33 billion, with imports from Africa at US $603 million. Africa accounted for approximately only two per cent of the Caribbean Community’s total trade.

Currently, the top exports to Africa include anhydrous ammonia, alumina, oil drilling tubing materials, sauces and condiments and frozen orange juice concentrate. The main markets are Morocco, Ghana and South Africa. The top 10 imports from Africa include liquified natural gas, vehicles, barium sulphate, bitumen and coriander, with the main sources being Nigeria, South Africa and Morocco.

Citing the benefits which the Community offered to investors, she said the region was a strong performer in the services sectors such as travel, tourism and financial services. Additionally, Dr. Barnett said they were working to transform the agriculture and industrial sectors.

“Our 25 by 2025 agricultural initiative (reducing the region’s food import bill by 25 per cent by 2025) already is gaining momentum. We are promoting investment in agriculture, including two excellent agri-investment expos that have been held so far. And we are backing this up with decisive actions to address trade barriers and promote productivity across the region. Work has started on an industrial policy that will complement the positive steps already underway in agriculture,” she shared.

The Secretary General said CARICOM also offered investors “a gateway to partner markets”, pointing out that its preferential trade agreements with several Latin American and Caribbean neighbours “and others” provided significant market access opportunities. She noted that these markets represented a combined US $11 trillion in imports of goods and services.

Dr. Barnette said that with the African continental free trade area and the CSME presenting solid platforms for trade and economic cooperation, she expected the “first” AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum to be a success.


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