Dr. Barnett was at the time making remarks at the opening of the first AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum in Bridgetown, Barbados.
In her opening remarks, Caricom Secretary General Carla Barnett described the event as an important first step that “will build bilateral cooperation and promote trade, investment, technology transfer, innovation, tourism, culture and other services”.
“Using this Forum and other mechanisms, such as our mutual membership in the Organisation of African Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS), 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 own Caribbean Export, which is our regional trade and investment promotion agency,” Dr. Barnett said.
The market represented by the African Continental Free Trade Arrangement is set to reach $6.7 trillion in value by 2035. Merchandise trade within the CARICOM Single Market stood at $2.2 billion in 2018, and with decisive steps taken recently to reduce non-tariff barriers, especially in agriculture, we expect further growth in the period ahead.
In 2018, CARICOM’s imports totaled $33 billion, of which Africa accounted for just $603 million (2%).
Top exports to Africa include, anhydrous ammonia, alumina, oil drilling tubing and material, sauces and condiments, frozen orange juice concentrate, with Morocco, Ghana and South Africa being CARICOM’s major importers.
The top ten imports from Africa include –LNG, vehicles, barium sulphate, bitumen and coriander seeds, with the main sources being Nigeria, South Africa and Morocco.
Clearly there is tremendous opportunity for expansion and deepening of trading relations.
But to grow trade and investment flows between our Regions, we need to strengthen and streamline the infrastructure to support Africa-CARICOM trade. This includes air and maritime distribution and transportation channels. We need to move to establish a Multilateral Air Services Agreement between African countries and the Community.
We at CARICOM are determined to advance our Single Market, and extend our trade and investment arrangements to drive trade and economic growth, and look forward to deepening further our partnerships with our friends, neighbors, brothers and sisters in Africa.