African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) on Friday, August 4, 2023, officially opened the Caribbean office in Barbados to enhance trade and investment between Africa and the Caribbean.
The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is a grouping of 20 countries, 15 member states and five associate members. It is home to approximately 16 million citizens, 60 percent of whom are under the age of 30, and from the main ethnic groups of Indigenous Peoples, Africans, Indians, Europeans, Chinese, Portuguese and Japanese.
The Bank reaffirmed the US$1.5 billion credit limit made available to support eligible CARICOM States while planning to increase it to $3 billion.
A statement from the Bank said the Afreximbank Caribbean office will support the implementation of the partnership agreement between Afreximbank and CARICOM member states aimed at expanding Africa-Caribbean trade and investment relations.
The move cements Afreximbank’s efforts to promote and develop trade between Africa and the Caribbean, in line with its Diaspora strategy and the African Union’s designation of the African Diaspora as Africa’s sixth region.
Benedict Oramah, president and chairman of the board of directors, said that the establishment of the Afreximbank Caribbean office remains critical to facilitating operations of the Bank in the Caribbean Community.
It will bring Afreximbank’s products and initiatives closer to the business community and ensure that the Bank rapidly ramps-up operations to promote stronger relations with the governments in the region towards the pursuit of mutually identified priorities.
“With the launch of the Caribbean Office, we can look forward to a smooth implementation of trade and access to finance initiatives, broader business origination across the CARICOM member states and more impactful results from our partnership. We also look forward to Afreximbank subsidiaries finding homes in the CARICOM, especially the Fund for Export Development in Africa (FEDA), PAPSS and AfrexInsure. Over time, CARICOM and African financial systems will become better integrated for the benefit of our people” he said.
In her remarks, Mia Amor Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados, stated that Africa has been a loyal friend to the Caribbean, referencing the assistance offered through the African Medical Supplies Platform during the COVID-19 pandemic.
She said that Africa opened its doors to the Caribbean community and facilitated access to equipment, therapeutics, and ultimately vaccines, with the payment mechanism facilitated through Afreximbank.
Mottley went on to laud the establishment of the Afreximbank Caribbean office, noting that this new office is the culmination of promises made by the Bank during the first AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum held in Barbados in 2022.
“This is not just a proud moment historically, but it is also a move that makes sense that will benefit our regional private sector and our regional state-owned corporations who need access to a more empathetic, reasonable bank and one willing to take risks that would allow our people to move and grow to the next level,” she stated.
In December 2022, the Board of Directors of Afreximbank approved US$1.5 billion funding to enable member states of the Caribbean Community that had ratified the partnership agreement with Afreximbank to tap into the Bank’s various financial instruments. As of July 2023, 11 out of the 15 CARICOM member states had signed the partnership with Afreximbank.
According to the Bank, the financing will be targeted at supporting critical economic sectors aimed at boosting the development of trade-enabling infrastructure, as well as enhancing trade and investments between Africa and the CARICOM member states, while providing support to small and medium enterprises. The bank has also committed to increase the credit limit to US$3 billion.