Barbados gave an undertaking on Monday that it will be pressing ahead with its goal of establishing new partnerships and strengthening existing ones, as the island continues to solidify its south-south cooperation with key partners.
Minister in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs, Ryan Straughn said maintaining partnerships was necessary if the global south was to adequately address emerging global challenges.
He was speaking in a video message shown during the opening ceremony at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Thematic Solutions Forum at the Global South-South Development Expo in Bangkok, Thailand.
He told the audience that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic “demonstrated to all the need for stronger South-South Partnerships”, adding that Caricom had worked with the African Union and the Afreximbank to access the African medical supplies platform.
Straughn said this enabled Barbados and other countries in the region to receive COVID-19 vaccines, personal protective equipment (PPE), and other medical supplies that had become more expensive and extremely difficult to source in light of global scarcity and hoarding.
He said the government, in keeping with its commitment to South-South cooperation, established diplomatic missions in Ghana and Kenya and opened high commissions in Accra and Ghana as a “priority”.
Straughn also said earlier this month, Barbados hosted the first AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum, sponsored by the Afreximbank, in partnership with Invest Barbados and Export Barbados.
“By any measure, the forum was a rousing success, attended by over 700 delegates from several African countries and the diaspora and 300 persons from the Caribbean region,” he said. “The opportunity to share knowledge, forge business partnerships, and share meaningful cultural experiences was well received by all. We look forward to hosting even more delegates in the future.
“Barbados has also signed Memoranda of Understanding to facilitate direct airlift between both regions, with Barbados providing a jump off point to the wider Caribbean. We have already received expressions of interest from several carriers to fly these routes. Hopefully, the journey to the next ACTIF will be much shorter and faster.
“Our partners at the Afreximbank have pledged to provide U.S. $1 billion in trade financing to the Caribbean region. These are but a few examples of Barbados’ tangible efforts to make real the lived experience of South-South Cooperation for our people.
“I look forward to continued growth and prosperity in this respect and eagerly await the day there are direct flights from Bangkok to Bridgetown, which will enable us to meet in person instead of virtually.”
Straughn alluded to other areas of collaboration between Barbados and Suriname to address issues of food security in keeping with the goal set before the start of the pandemic to reduce the region’s food import bill by 25 per cent by 2025.