By Santana Salmon

The International Trade Centre (ITC) on Thursday launched a new report that highlighted more than US$1 billion in export potential between Africa and the Caribbean.

ITC and the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) also extended their five-year partnership, which will help tackle trade barriers and build business capacity to realize that potential. The renewed memorandum of understanding, signed on day one of the inaugural AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum (AFCTIF) in Barbados, aims to drive trade and economic development for Africa through new Caribbean markets.

ITC’s Expanding African-Caribbean Trade report, released at the September 1-3 forum, highlights those partnerships such as this one with Afreximbank are needed to tackle the economic consequences of global crises.

It shows how the two regions have an export potential exceeding US$1 billion in sectors ranging from agrifood and healthcare to tourism, fertilizers, and automobiles.

According to the report, unlocking that potential requires stronger relationships between African and Caribbean traders, the removal of trade obstacles such as high tariffs and non-tariff barriers, and greater investment in growth areas.

“A trade boost between Africa and the Caribbean is possible. It needs an ecosystem to give credible data on market opportunities, support to exporting firms, and guidance for governments,” said Pamela Coke-Hamilton, Executive Director at ITC.

“The new Africa-Caribbean Business Council is a critical initiative that will help transform transatlantic trade.”

The Expanding African-Caribbean Trade report noted that the goods trade between the two regions is negligible and concentrated in just a few sectors including primary minerals and chemicals.

It added that with the right support in place, Africa could boost its annual exports of merchandise to the Caribbean by US$171 million by 2026, a 54 percent increase over 2020 levels. The Caribbean could expand goods exports to Africa by US$80 million or 29 percent, and its export of services such as travel and transport even more.

President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Afreximbank, Professor Benedict Oramah said ACTIF 2022 will provide business communities from the African and CARICOM regions with a platform to engage, trade, invest, innovate, and transfer technology.

‘We believe breaking the trade barrier between Africa and the Caribbean will yield greater prosperity and market opportunities for our peoples and support the implementation of the AfCFTA [African Continental Free Trade Area] through increased trade and investment,” he said. The ITC-Afreximbank agreement signed on Thursday focuses on trade and market intelligence and the creative economy as well as green solutions for better trade and investment exchanges in the two regions, geared at small businesses.

The partnership builds on the joint attempt to spur the competitiveness of small businesses in Africa and help them benefit from AfCFTA.

The agreement will promote increased investment in African businesses and cross-regional business opportunities, develop the creative and cultural industries, and ensure access to accurate information about export markets.

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