Africa and Caribbean Nations set to deepen trade ties at Bahamas summit

Afreximbank President Prof Benedict Oramah (standing c) accompanied by Bahamas Prime Minister Philip Davis (standing right) witnessed the signing of the agreement for The Bahamas to host the 31st Afreximbank Annual Meetings and the third edition of ACTIF. [Courtesy]

African and Caribbean countries are poised to forge stronger trade ties at a landmark meeting in The Bahamas.

The Caribbean nation of The Bahamas and the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) have signed an agreement to host the 31st Afreximbank Annual Meetings (AAM) and the third edition of the AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum (ACTIF) in Nassau, Bahamas in mid-June this year.

“Afreximbank’s historic decision to hold the 31st Afreximbank Annual Meetings in The Bahamas will be the first time it has been held in the Caribbean,” said Afreximbank President Professor Benedict Oramah following the deal.

The IMF predicts seven African nations and one from CARICOM (Caribbean Community) will be among the world's ten fastest-growing economies. Strengthening connections between these regions presents a clear opportunity to accelerate shared growth and prosperity, said Prof Oramah.

“There is a hugely positive outlook for many African and CARICOM countries – as demonstrated by the IMF’s forecast that seven African countries and one CARICOM country will be in the top ten fastest growing economies globally – so cementing closer links between the two regions is of clear mutual benefit to accelerate growth and prosperity.”

Prof Oramah said pushing for deeper trade ties is crucial at a time of trade protectionism which might affect African countries.

“We are in an era where some major global economies are reacting to geopolitical tensions by restricting international trade to prioritise their domestic industries,” he said.

“This partial move away from the rules-based trading system, where international trade is conducted according to agreed-upon transparent, non-discriminatory, and impartial rules, threatens the longstanding reliance of African economies on global support for shared growth and prosperity.”

According to Prof Oramah, the theme for the 31st Afreximbank annual meetings and the 3rd ACTIF is ‘Owing Our Destiny: Economic Prosperity on the Platform of Global Africa.’

“This theme reflects our focus on broadening the discourse to determine solutions to the challenges that affect African Caribbean economies, the policy issues required to promote growth, development and prosperity across Africa and the Caribbean, and to accelerate intra-African trade and investment flows, including with the diaspora,” he said.

During the signing ceremony, the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, Philip Davis, said would enable countries from the two regions to explore and exploit the immense trade opportunities between the two regions.

“Hosting both the AAM and ACTIF demonstrates the determination and commitment of The Bahamas to leverage on the shared history, identities, and cultures of AfriCaribbean nations to forge significantly greater trade, investment, and direct transport linkages,” he said.

“Doing so will stimulate economic growth and development, which will feed through to immensely beneficial societal impact. It is also vital that we enhance our global influence by speaking with a unified voice on matters such as securing global action to meaningfully address climate change.”

The meeting will discuss the emerging neo-protectionism from advanced economies and the need for Africans to pursue self-determination in the context of a global Africa that includes the Caribbean and the diaspora generally.

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