As published on barbadostoday.bb, Thursday 22 July, 2021.
Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley and French Ambassador Jacques-Henry Heuls have explored several opportunities for the deepening of the existing bilateral ties that would redound to the benefit of both countries.
The two officials held cordial talks on a number of areas including a direct flight between Paris and Bridgetown, a meeting with France’s President Emmanuel Macron and other senior officials, proposed renewable energy projects and defence and security issues, during the call at Ilaro Court yesterday.
The Prime Minister told the Ambassador that a high-level political engagement with Macron was crucial as there were a number of issues to be discussed. “There are many issues that we need to speak on.
Whether it is defence and security…whether it is climate change, COVID-19, or the OECD or other financial blacklisting, or the new global corporation tax which we understand that countries will soon introduce. What is at stake is 13 per cent of our tax revenue and in circumstances where we are not like the other tax jurisdictions, that is why for us we want the conversation with him [Mr. Macron] to discuss matters of economic substance.”
Mottley also mentioned the need for a direct market between France and Barbados to not only woo tourists to our shores, but to attract investors to boost the island’s tourism product and “cater more specifically to French visitors”.
“I think that we have not really started to scratch the surface in terms of where the relationship between the two countries can go and with the change in the composition of the European Union, it becomes all the more critical that we work together to deepen our relationship with the European Union. France is one of those key partners with whom we see the appropriate opportunity to pursue [relations].
“With almost 55 years of diplomatic relations, if we are going to ever overcome the language barrier it has to be now as it is in our interest to see France as a gateway for us into the EU, and you can see us as a keen partner in the Americas,” the Prime Minister underlined.
In turn, Ambassador Heuls discussed projects that could assist the island in its renewable energy goal of being 100 per cent fossil fuel free by 2030.
He also disclosed that direct airlift from Barbados to Amsterdam should commence from October and said that he would welcome the opportunity to discuss having direct airlines between Barbados and France.
The two officials also discussed the climate crisis and its effect on GDP, the illicit drug trade and arms trafficking, and the need for citizens to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Barbados and France established diplomatic ties on May 3, 1968.