ST, JOHNS Antigua, September 7, 2021 - CARICOM Chairman, Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne, has proposed areas of cooperation between CARICOM and Africa, including the establishment of a permanent Africa/CARICOM day in September each year, when discussions in relation to the trading and cultural relationship between Africa and the Caribbean can take place.
He was addressing the first ever African-Caribbean Community (CARICOM) summit on Tuesday via teleconference, the CARICOM Chair outlined proposals for closer collaboration between the two regions.
Browne told the summit that it was important to establish structures of cooperation to promote their mutual socio-economic interests; increasing investment and trade, and people to people exchanges between Africa and the Caribbean.
The CARICOM chairman proposed four areas for Africa-Caricom cooperation including nominating September 7 every year as “African Caribbean Day”.
He said there is also the need to create a Forum of African and Caribbean Territories and States (FACTS), managed jointly by the Secretariats of the African Union and CARICOM.
He said “every year hereafter, we should repeat this Africa-CARICOM summit on this day September 7th to analyse the global situation and our place within it; to discuss initiatives and programmes; and to authorize joint actions.
In addition Browne proposed that “we should charge the Secretariats of the African Union and CARICOM to present to us within six months of today, for approval at our meeting next year, the Founding Charter and a Memorandum of Operation of our Forum, including proposals to overcome existing obstacles to trade and investment.”
The CARICOM Chair further intimated that consideration should be given to a multilateral air services agreement, and an investment protection, as well as, a double taxation agreement between African and CARICOM states.
“Should we agree to establish these pillars of collaboration, I urge both Secretariats not to over-bureaucratize these initiatives. We must keep our arrangements lean and efficacious,” Browne said, urging the leaders of the countries of the two regions to “create the pathways of accord between Africa and the Caribbean – an accord worthy of our historic and contemporary struggles to overcome the legacy of racism, colonialism, exploitation and global inequities.
“We are the branches of a single tree created from the same roots and as ‘Caribbeaners’, we look forward to that Welcomed return as repatriated Africans. Let us, as that one tree, reach to the skies together – strong, resilient, and unshakeable,” the CARICOM chairman said.
In her address, Prime Minister Amor Mottley in a stirring contribution, also put forward a number of proposals to complement that of the CARICOM Chairman. They include:
(1) The establishment of a regular weekly direct airline flight between an African country and one CARICOM member state -- even if it means that the AU and CARICOM may have to provide some modest financial or other support in the commencement phase of such a venture;
(2) The establishment of a joint AU / CARICOM electronic mass media platform or mechanism that facilitates the flow of news, information and artistic programming between Africa and the Caribbean, for the benefit of our two peoples;
(3) Establish an African / CARICOM public / private partnership dedicated to mobilizing resources and deploying them in critical cutting edge projects centred around renewable energy, digital technology etc
(4) A collective commitment to participate fully in the upcoming 22nd of September High Level meeting of the UN General Assembly in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the 2001 UN World Conference Against Racism, and to jointly use that High Level event to advance the claim for Reparations within the processes of the United Nations.