The International Trade Centre (ITC) launched a new report on Thursday that highlighted more than U.S. $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 realise that potential.
The renewed Memorandum of Understanding, signed on the first day of the inaugural AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum (ACTIF) on Thursday 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 three-day forum, which ends on Saturday, highlighted partnerships such as this with Afreximbank are needed to tackle the economic consequences of global crises.
It showed how the two regions have an export potential exceeding U.S. $1 billion in sectors ranging from agri-food and healthcare to tourism, fertilisers, and automobiles.
According to the report, unlocking that potential needed 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,” ITC executive director Pamela Coke-Hamilton said. “It needs an ecosystem to give credible data on market opportunities, support to exporting firms, and guidance for governments.
“The new Africa-Caribbean Business Council is a critical initiative that will help transform Trans-Atlantic trade.”
The expanding African-Caribbean trade report noted that the goods traded between the two regions was negligible and concentrated in only 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 U.S. $171 million within four years, a 54 per cent increase over 2020 levels.
The Caribbean could expand goods exports to Africa by U.S. $80 million or 29 per cent, and its export of services such as travel and transport even more.
Professor Benedict Oramah, the president and chairman of the board of directors of Afreximbank, 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 focussed 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.
The ITC is the joint agency of the World Trade Organisationn(WTO) and the United Nations (UN) that assists micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises in developing countries to become more competitive in global markets – thus contributing to the UN’s sustainable development goals.