Africa-CARICOM Summit: Gaston Browne offers four interwoven proposals

“No trade was between Africa and the Caribbean, Europeans used African people as commodity. They traded. We were traded”

Caribbean: The leaders of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and African leaders met in the first Africa-CARICOM Summit under the theme of ‘Unity Across Continents and Oceans: Opportunities for Deepening Integration’ to bring unity among continents and oceans. 

Chair of CARICOM, Gaston Browne, said that both regions must act together and wield their formidable global bargaining power to demand equity and change in the international arena. He offered four interwoven proposals for the meeting to consider. 

  1. Both regions should create a Forum of African and Caribbean Territories and States (FACTS), managing jointly by the Secretariats of the African Union and CARICOM. 
  2. The meeting to Nominate September 7 as Africa-CARICOM day.
  3. Repeat Africa-CARICOM summit on September 7 to analyse the global situation, to discuss initiatives and programmes and to authorise joint actions. 
  4. Charge the Secretariats of the African Union and CARICOM to present countries within six months of September 7, for approval at meeting next year, the Founding Charter and a Memorandum of Operation of Forum, which would include proposals to overcome existing obstacles to investment and trade. There must be a multi-lateral air services agreement and investment protection. And also a double taxation agreement between CARICOM member states and Africa.

Gaston Browne, also Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, said that Europe underdeveloped Africa and left the Caribbean undeveloped during their tenure. That is the reason the major European countries hold Africa and the Caribbean countries in a trap of underdeveloped as they control the global economic, financial and trading systems. 

“Let us be clear: There was never trade between Africa and the Caribbean. There was trade between Europeans using African people as a commodity. They traded. We were traded,” said Gaston Browne. 

Referring to the COVID-19 vaccines, PM Browne added that 70 percent of the European Union and almost 60 percent of the North American are fully vaccinated. Whereas in Africa only 3 percent of countries can say the same. “We must act together to change it.” 

He added that the Caribbean and Africa must increase investment and trade, including people to people exchange, promoting mutual socio-economic interests. 

PM Gaston Browne reiterated that both regions must resist being pushed to the margins of international decision-making and collaborate on decisions to restructure the global financial architecture, on derisking, global taxation, and reparations among other elements. 

With a population of over 1.4 billion people, both regions have great natural and wealth-creating resources, including gas, oil, minerals, agriculture, tourism, forestry, fisheries and much more. “We are the supplier of vital commodities to the global community and a strong market for the goods and services of Europe and North America,” PM Browne emphasised. 

He also reiterated that both regions have a strength of 69 votes in the United Nations and its subsidiary organisations, including the World Trade Organisation and have a global bargain power.