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Prime Minister of the Bahamas, Philip Davis arrives at the opening ceremony of the 31st Afreximbank Annual Meeting and the Third AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum in Nassau on Thursday, June 13, 2024.
Prime Minister of the Bahamas, Philip Davis arrives at the opening ceremony of the 31st Afreximbank Annual Meeting and the Third AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum in Nassau on Thursday, June 13, 2024.
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By Kenton X. Chance

NASSAU, Bahamas (CMC) — Prime Minister of the Bahamas Philip Davis has outlined a blueprint for collaboration between Africa and the Caribbean saying it “encompasses key initiatives designed to unite our banking systems, enhance financial inclusivity, and catalyse economic growth across Africa and the Caribbean”.

Davis told the opening ceremony of the 31st Afreximbank Annual Meeting and the Third AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum here on Thursday that as global environment continues to evolve Africa and the Caribbean stand united not just in shared history.

The two regions are united in a shared mission to leverage their collective skills, resources, and brotherhood, he told the event that is taking place in the Caribbean for the first time.

“We find ourselves at a critical juncture where our past’s legacy meets our future’s potential,” he said, adding that the regions’ collective response to its challenges is “not merely to resist but to innovate and collaborate, creating a blueprint for a future where Africa and the Caribbean harness their collective economic power to dismantle barriers and build bridges”.

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He said the unity and collaboration are exemplified by recent developments at the United Nations concerning international tax matters.

“The Bahamas, alongside other African nations, played a supportive role in a pivotal resolution, marking a significant victory in the ongoing fight for equitable global tax governance.”

He said the resolution, which was supported by 125 nations, signals a shift towards a more inclusive approach to international tax cooperation.

“Yet, as we celebrate this achievement, we must also prepare for the challenges ahead. The creation of a new UN tax convention and the establishment of a global tax body will face opposition,” Davis told the meeting which is being attended by a number of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders.

“In this context, the Bahamas and the broader African and Caribbean region must remain vigilant and proactive. We must leverage this moment to push for the inclusion of a Multidimensional Vulnerability Index in the global financial system, recognising the unique challenges faced by our nations, particularly in relation to climate change and natural disasters.”

Davis said his strategic plan is anchored in the two regions’ shared desire for prosperity and their commitment to overcoming the challenges of distance and disparate regulatory environments.

“Establishing a joint financial task force can be the cornerstone of our blueprint,” he said, adding, “This collaborative body will harness the expertise of banking and finance leaders, policymakers, and stakeholders from both regions.”

He said that tasked with identifying and dismantling barriers to banking integration, this task force “symbolises our collective will to forge a unified path forward”.

The Bahamian leader said Africa and the Caribbean can harmonise their regulatory frameworks to address critical hurdles in their journey.

“By aligning our anti-money laundering standards, counter-financing of terrorism policies, and digital currency regulations, we create a seamless environment conducive to cross-regional banking operations.”

He said the Bahamas, with its robust regulatory landscape, exemplified by the Digital Assets and Registered Exchanges (DARE) Act, is a pioneer in this endeavour, guiding efforts towards regulatory excellence and stability.

Phillips Davis 2
Prime Minister of the Bahamas, Philip Davis arrives at the opening ceremony of the 31st Afreximbank Annual Meeting and the Third AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum in Nassau on Thursday, June 13, 2024.

Davis said promoting financial inclusion and digital banking leverages the power of technology to erase boundaries and open doors.

“Inspired by the Bahamas’ pioneering launch of the Sand Dollar, the world’s first central bank digital currency, this facet of the blueprint envisions a future where digital banking platforms extend financial services to every corner of our regions, ensuring that no citizen is left behind.”

Davis noted that facilitating trade and investment through streamlined banking procedures and dedicated financial instruments can bolster economic exchanges between Africa and the Caribbean.

“By focusing on sectors of mutual interest like tourism, agriculture, renewable energy, and technology, we can unlock new avenues for growth and collaboration.”

He said a key to the blueprint is developing human capital, “underscoring the belief that our greatest asset is our people”, adding that joint educational initiatives and training programmes will equip banking professionals with cutting-edge skills in fintech, cybersecurity, and regulatory compliance, ensuring our financial sector is robust, secure, and innovative.

Davis said that creating a bilateral payment system or exploring the development of a shared digital currency represents a bold step towards financial sovereignty and integration.

Such an initiative will facilitate smoother trade and investment, reduce our reliance on external currencies, and strengthen our economic bonds, he said. “Together, Africa and the Caribbean can embark on this transformative journey, driven by unity, innovation, and mutual respect. Let this blueprint be our guide as we strive to unlock the full potential of our regions, forging a path towards prosperity that will be remembered for generations to come,” Davis said.

He said the annual meeting represents a pivotal moment for Africa and the Caribbean, especially for small island developing states (SIDS).

“We face a global financial system that often locks us out, creating inequities perpetuated by G8 and G20 countries. These powerful nations frequently establish one set of rules for themselves and another for developing states, undermining our progress and prosperity,” Davis said.

“It is imperative that we call out this behaviour and demand an inclusive, fair model for the global financial system. We need a financial system that protects and empowers us, rather than one that marginalises and exploits us.”

Davis said the current paradigm cannot continue unchallenged.

“Our voices must be heard, and our needs must be addressed in any new global financial framework. This is not just about fairness; it is about our survival and our right to determine our own economic destinies.”