Prime Minister Philip J. Pierre has highlighted the need for Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries to establish joint diplomatic missions in Africa and deepen relations with the continent.
Pierre spoke as the Egypt-based Africa Import-export Bank (Afreximbank) opened its Caribbean office in Barbados last week.
He looked forward to cooperation involving the bank, the CARICOM Economic Fund, and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).
“This partnership agreement of the bank, which virtually comes to life today with the launching of the office in Barbados, is the signal for us in CARICOM to deepen our relations with Africa,” Pierre told the launch ceremony.
And he said the Saint Lucia government was committed to doing so and establishing a diplomatic presence in some African countries.
Pierre observed that with the bank operating for all CARICOM countries, it was perhaps time for countries in the regional integration movement to establish joint diplomatic missions in Africa “rather than the individual diplomatic offices that some of us have in a few African states”.
The comments drew applause from the audience.
Pierre, responsible for Finance, Economic Development, and the Youth Economy, stated that the economic sectors identified for the bank’s activities are critical to CARICOM’s development.
He thus explained that Africa would have a vital role in the region’s economic future.
In addition, the Saint Lucia Prime Minister noted the significance of the partnership as a good example of South-South cooperation.
And against the backdrop of Emancipation Day observances on August 1, Pierre said the Afreximbank office launch constituted a reversal of the unjust and inhumane links forcibly set up between the Caribbean and Africa by Europeans 400 years ago.
” It establishes the foundation for free, meaningful, and dignified relations between CARICOM and African countries,” Pierre declared.