The AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum (ACTIF23) opened in Guyana today, with His Excellency, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, President of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, challenging the regional private sector to collaborate with their African counterparts to develop a consortium, to solve some of the perennial challenges facing the region, including transportation.

President Ali emphasized to the Heads of Government and delegates in attendance that “Every single state of CARICOM has made it clear that we will give all the incentives necessary to facilitate the building of a regional transport infrastructure system to solve the problem of regional transportation… All the governments in the region, we have made it clear, we will support such a consortium on investment through incentives and promotion. The private sector must get up and put that consortium in place, partner with Afreximbank and end this problem.”

His remarks came as he noted that the south-south trade potential between Africa and the Caribbean is estimated at USD 16 trillion, and there are multiple opportunities on which the countries of the regions can capitalise. The Guyanese President also called on Africa and the Caribbean to build stronger bonds based on friendship, love, and prosperity.

President Ali added that the Caribbean and Africa have an opportunity to expand their partnership in a different way: “The colonisers' goal was to expand the slave trade; in honour of those men and women who we lost in the most horrendous form, we now have an opportunity to rewrite history, of collaborating and expanding partnerships for the prosperity of the people of our two regions.”

In his welcome remarks to the delegates, the Honourable Hugh Hilton Todd, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Guyana, further spoke of the potential for expansion of south-south trade, across a wide range of products and services. He said by working together, they can increase exports in innovative and technological areas for comparative and competitive advantage.

Delivering Special Remarks, the Honourable Philip J. Pierre, Prime Minister of St. Lucia, added that the two regions have much to gain from sharing best practices. He said through ACTIF, they were developing a vital link which could help to build resilient economies. He went further, stating that to achieve this, direct transportation between the regions is a tangible goal they must strive to achieve. Her Excellency Dr. Carla Natalie Barnett, Secretary-General of the CARICOM Secretariat, also addressed delegates at the opening and highlighted the numerous opportunities for collaboration and trade. She stated that trade data shows limited exports and imports between the regions. However, a study by the International Trade Centre (ITC) reveals great potential for trade between Africa and the Caribbean, with the services sector being the greatest opportunity for the Caribbean, while Africa has 2.2 times more potential to export goods to the Caribbean.

Meanwhile, in a video message, Dr Pamala Coke-Hamilton, Director of the ITC, pledged the organization’s assistance with advancing the work of the African Caribbean Business Council launched at the last ACTIF 2022. She insisted that more can be achieved through interregional cooperation.

Following the official opening, delegates at ACTIF23 were treated to four insightful sessions on ‘One Year of AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Revival: Lessons from Experience’, ‘Options for overcoming financing constraints to AfriCaribbean trade and investment cooperation,’ ‘Connecting Africa and the Caribbean: logistics, transport links, payment systems, standards, and more,’ and ‘Opportunities in the Oil and Gas sector.’

ACTIF23 is being hosted under the theme ‘Creating a Shared Prosperous Future’ in Georgetown, Guyana, by African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) and the Government of Guyana. The Forum is focused on accelerating commercial collaboration between the Caribbean region and Africa, increasing inter-regional trade and investment, and promoting airlinks, tourism, technology transfer, financial stability, food security, industrialisation and cultural ties.

Afreximbank opened a Caribbean office in Barbados in August 2023 and has provided a USD 1.5 billion line of credit to the region.

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DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.