More than US$10million in combined trade is expected to take place between Ghana and Barbados by 2025, Chief Executive Officer of Export Barbados – an investment and development agency of the Caribbean nation – Mark Hill, has indicated.
The ambitious target comes on the back of increased political, cultural and trade interactions between both countries, which include a reaffirmation of longstanding trade arrangements and the institution of new ones
Speaking exclusively to the B&FT in a wide-ranging interview, Mr. Hill stated that the goal is to provide a net positive balance in the trade relations of Ghana and Barbados, and the wider economic prosperity of both nations as they exchange goods, services and technical expertise.
“We are stepping-up efforts aimed at leveraging our historic and deeply-rooted ties to increase trade and investment in our respective countries. It is early days yet, but between now and 2025 my goal is for us to do better than we are doing now… for us to have a trade balance of say US$5million from us and similar amount from you and we net off… If we have a marginal surplus on one side as a result of who is being more aggressive, we both celebrate that,” he remarked.
If fully realised, the figure will represent a monumental leap in current trade levels, which have slowed down particularly in the wake of the pandemic.
The CEO of Export Barbados – formerly Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC) – further disclosed that a consignment of Barbadian goods is on its way to Ghana, with a complementary shipment expected to leave for the Eastern Caribbean Island shortly.
Mr. Hill indicated that the Barbadian trade strategy in Ghana will lean heavily toward value addition to commodities.
“We would like to take some commodities to add value to them and export them into certain regions; but we want more to come back into this space and do the value-creation right here in Ghana,” he noted.
He further stated that special focus will be given to women and youth-led enterprises.
Areas of particular interest include the bioeconomy, especially renewable energy, as well as information and communication technology (ICT), plant extracts, arts and culture, and tourism.
Despite only establishing formal diplomatic relations less than three decades ago, Ghana and Barbados have recently taken significant steps toward improving commerce between themselves as well as their respective trade blocs.
Over the past decade, partnership agreements have been signed across the entire economic spectrum between both countries. Some of these are the waiving of visa requirements for passport holders of both nations for up to 180 days, and the Cultural, Technical and Scientific Cooperation Agreement between both states.
Others are agreements on the provision of medical personnel and maritime information exchange, and the signing of an Air Services confidential memorandum of understanding (MOU) aimed at “promoting bilateral aviation relations and expanding economic opportunities for their designated airlines”.
At a recent interaction with the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) dubbed ‘Ghana-Barbados Roundtable’, the Barbadian prime minister – who was the special guest of honour at Ghana’s 65th Independence Day celebration – pledged her country’s commitment to the cause.
This was followed by the signing of an MoU between Export Barbados and the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA), of which Mr. Hill said: “We understand the role of the private sector in these ventures and we will continue to see more collaboration on both sides”.
Expanding on the theme of collaboration, the Export Barbados CEO expressed optimism that blossoming relations between his country, which is considered the gateway to the Caribbean, and Ghana – host of the AfCFTA secretariat – will have a positive effect within their respective regions.
Touching on lessons Africa’s nascent trade bloc can learn from its Caribbean counterpart – the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Mr. Hill said: “For us, we have seen the benefits of collaboration in the area of transfer for technical know-how and expertise, and it has been largely successful because we have had relative stability within and among member-states.
“Much more than that has been the emphasis on properly-designed and implemented policies,” which he said are non-negotiable for success in trade and investment.
Mr. Hill said the government of Barbados is currently reviewing the existing regulatory framework to see areas where adjustments can be made to further drive ease of doing business in the country.