Group of officials look at report, with flags and banners in background
Barbados prime minister stands speaking with other officials

Forging African-Caribbean trade

15 November 2023
ITC News

Trade between Africa and the Caribbean could be worth an additional $1 billion, with the right support. Much of that potential lies in agri-business, which was the focus at the AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum in Guyana.

Known as ACTIF, the first forum last year released a report on Expanding African-Caribbean Trade

Since then, Afreximbank has opened a Caribbean Office in Barbados, and is launching a pilot project to ease payments within the Caribbean, said Afreximbank Chairman Benedict Oramah. 

‘By the conclusion of 2024, Afreximbank will embark on establishing the Africa Trade Centre in Barbados, as the permanent location for its Caribbean office. This centre will encompass a hotel, trade information, conferencing, and exhibition facilities,’ he said in his opening remarks. 

To grow trade between the two regions will require more resources, including ‘access to financial resources at competitive rates and terms, specialized technical assistance, and market intelligence,’ said Escipion Oliveira, Director of the Division of Enterprise Competitiveness and Institutions at ITC. 

'ITC takes pride in collaborating with Afreximbank to bolster Africa-Caribbean trade through investment within the ACTIF framework.' 

In a pre-recorded message, ITC Executive Director Pamela Coke-Hamilton underlined the need for transport and logistics investments to realize the trade potential between the two regions. 

‘Since last year's ACTIF, we've already seen big increases in commercial cooperation,’ she said. 

Three heads of state attended the event: President Mohamed Irfaan Ali of Guyana, Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley of Barbados, and Prime Minister Philip Joseph Pierre of Saint Lucia. 

Three ITC programmes showcased their work to advance better trade for agri-businesses, particularly in cassava. Businesses and investment promotion agencies from Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone were on hand to share their experiences as West Africa’s biggest producers of cassava. The West Africa Competitiveness Programme, Alliances for Action, and the One Trade Africa (OTA) initiative all work to grow trade in the region while using ethical, climate-smart practices. 

During the 30-31 October event in Georgetown, Guyana, the ITC pavilion gathered 14 small businesses and five business support organizations to share their experiences and stories.  

During the event, ITC participated in the panel discussion ‘Improving Food Security, Agricultural Productivity and Expanding Agribusiness Opportunities. The panel presented how ITC works to enhance the competitiveness of Caribbean and African businesses through initiatives funded by the European Union, the United Kingdom, and others. 

ITC and Afreximbank also hosted a session with investment promotion agencies and leading African and Caribbean businesses to foster collaborations in agribusiness. 

ACTIF is just one aspect of the partnership between ITC and Afreximbank. They also run a training programme on how to export with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). More than 7,000 small businesses have taken the free online course. 

The organizations have collaborated on South Sudan's National Export and Investment Strategy. They’re also preparing to launch the first-ever Pan-African fashion designers cooperative. 

In November, they are bringing 30 small businesses to the Intra-African Trade Fair in Cairo. There, ITC and Afreximbank will run a masterclass on how to export and invest under the AfCFTA, underscoring their commitment to fostering economic growth and development across Africa.  

About the projects

Through Alliances for Action, an initiative by the International Trade Centre (ITC), we establish a network fostering sustainable agricultural value chains. Our goal is to cultivate ethical, climate-smart practices and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, empowering farmers and MSMEs for global competitiveness. We prioritize responsible trade, production, and consumption systems, aiming to enhance market linkages and competitiveness for sustainable growth. Ultimately, our efforts target increased engagement of youth and women across all levels of the sector.

The West Africa Competitiveness Programme (WACOMP) is financed by the European Union under the 11th European Development Fund. The programme aims to strengthen the competitiveness of West African countries and enhance their integration into the regional and international trading system. Under WACOMP, ITC works in cooperation with UNIDO and under the overall guidance of the ECOWAS Commission. The overall objective of the programme is 'to strengthen the competitiveness of West Africa through an enhanced level of production, transformation and export capacities of the private sector in line with regional and national industrial and MSME strategies'. The project is implemented by the International Trade Centre.

The One Trade Africa (OTA) initiative, supports the accelerated implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). OTA, led by the International Trade Centre (ITC), is committed to empowering MSMEs, women, and youth to harness opportunities in this unified market. It offers comprehensive technical assistance, enhancing enterprise capabilities to explore export opportunities within Africa and globally.