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Albert Muchanga, African Union Commissioner for Economic Development, Trade, Tourism, Industry and Minerals has hinted that Africa and the Caribbean will strike a strong partnership in trade and investment.
“Africa and the Caribbean have a long history of collaboration, the latest of which is through the Africa Medical Supplies Platform.
“With this Forum, we are now focusing on moving to the next and higher level of deepening trade and investment exchanges between the two regions.”
Ambassador Muchanga who was making a statement at the Opening Ceremony of the Africaribbean Trade and Investment Forum held at Bridgetown, Barbados said the African Union would after the event, avail a comprehensive report to the African Union Member States with a strong recommendation for them to become a strategic partner of future editions.
“As a start, let me say that we have a young, large and growing population offering a huge consumer base of currently 1.4 billion people. By 2050, Africa will account for 25% of the world’s population.
“The Forum is a noble undertaking. The shifting geo-economics demands that countries and regions broaden and deepen linkages with a broader set of other countries in order to create stronger platforms for inclusive economic growth and sustainable development as well as resilience.”
He said the partnership was becoming more paramount as economies around the world faced multiple threats of recessions, unsustainable debt burdens, reduced flows of finance for sustainable development, climate change, and, among several others, global supply chain disruptions.
He said Africa had entrepreneurs, including the youth involved in start-ups, willing to take risks and invest in the productive transformation of the two regions.
Ambassador Muchanga said a memorandum of understanding on the establishment of an Africa-Caribbean Business Council would be signed and pledged to witness the signing ceremony.
“Furthermore, we have universities awaiting to be transformed into research universities so that they can contribute to research and development, vital to boosting innovation, diversification and productivity in our production processes.
“In addition, climate change demands localization of production. In this respect, our two regions have the opportunity to develop inter-regional value chains. Already, there is focus on the cassava value chain. This commodity has growing importance in the emerging environment of the green transition.”
He said the Forum also offered an opportunity to enhance relations between the African Union Commission and the CARICOM Secretariat and looked forward to a day when CARICOM and the African Union Commission would have offices in the capital cities of their respective headquarters.
“Against this background, I have come to this Forum with a delegation of the African Union Development Agency-NEPAD, President of the African Business Council as well as professionals on trade, investment, diaspora affairs as well as youth affairs. All of us will actively participate in the working sessions of this Forum.”
He expressed appreciation to the People and Government of Barbados for the warm welcome and hospitality accorded them and congratulated the organizers of the Forum which attracted participation from a broad range of stakeholders, including the youth.
“I bring warm greetings from His Excellency Dr. Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission who has sent me to represent him at the opening ceremony of the inaugural edition of the Africaribbean Trade and Investment Forum.
“The African Union was invited to be a partner in this Forum. It was not possible for us to fully participate as partners because time was too short, at the time we were approached, for us to bring the event to the attention of Member States as they are always involved in matters of partnerships between Africa and the rest of the world.”