Cairo, 22 March 2022 – The 3rd Annual Board of Governors (BoG) Meeting of the Arab-Africa Trade Bridges (AATB) Program recently held in Cairo, Egypt, chaired by Dr. Hala ElSaid, Minister of Planning and Economic Development, convened all partners, strategic stakeholders, and public and private sector players in the Program to reinforce the role of regional value chains across Arab and Africa states in support of the AfCFTA. The landmark event included a round table discussion on the role of the AATB Program in the implementation of the AfCFTA across both regions.
Notably, a memorandum of understanding was signed by the Islamic Corporation for the Insurance of Investment and Export Credit (ICIEC) and Afreximbank. This agreement lays out a dedicated program that will focus on risk sharing, credit enhancement for export and import financing, supporting the bank’s digitalization transformation, capacity building and marketing.
During the opening ceremony, H.E. Dr. Hala El Said, Minister of Planning and Economic Development of the Arab Republic of Egypt and Chairperson of the AATB Board of Governors also mentioned: ” The AATB meeting provided an opportunity to consult and exchange ideas, visions, and successful experiences to enhance our efforts to develop trade and investment flows between African and Arab countries. The Arab Republic of Egypt takes pride in the continuous and fruitful cooperation with the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) and other strategic partners through the AATB Program.”
“A vital role of the AATB Program is promoting regional and continental trade and investment cooperation between Egypt, Arab countries, and African countries. The Program promotes critical areas such as capacity building programs to support women in trade, supporting SMEs, and exporters, while addressing the negative effects of the corona virus on Arab and African economies through vital interventions in health and food security.”-said H.E. Mrs. Nevin Gamea, Minister of Trade and Industry of the Arab Republic of Egypt.
In his speech, H.E. Dr. Majid Bin Abdullah AlKassabi, Minister of Commerce, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia stated that “Africa consists of 54 Countries, and it is a continent rich in human and natural resources. The AATB Program is a wonderful opportunity for trade development for both African and Arab regions as well for connecting and facilitating trade exchange between African countries. Therefore, we need to employ all resources to drive trade reinforcement and promote trade resilience, and this is what the AATB Program will have a significant impact on.”
Mr Alamine Ousmane Mey, Minister for Economy, Planning and Territory Development, Cameroon, added, “Covid-19 and recent geopolitical developments have shown that we need to strengthen our ties and trade amongst OIC member countries. In Cameroon, we are committed to pursuing sustainable and inclusive development through our national development strategy and the AfCFTA. We are also looking to build high structural transformation and nurture human capital as well as promote a greater interaction with the world economy.”
In his opening remarks, Professor Benedict Oramah, President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Afreximbank said “With the world in a state of continuing crises, partnerships like the Arab-African Trade Bridges Program will strengthen the African and the Arab world to address the trade and economic consequences of these crises, working to mitigate any long-lasting impact.”
H.E Dr. Sidi Ould Tah, Director General, Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA), Ex-Chairman of the Executive Committee (2017-2021) said “AATB is a program of cooperation between Arab and African Countries. BADEA, as one of the founding partners of AATB supports and funds infrastructure projects in Africa that facilitate trade and promote development. Through these efforts, we will continue to assist and support AATB objectives to enhance trade and investment opportunities within between the two regions.”
Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol, CEO of ITFC stated: “The AATB program has been instrumental in mitigating the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the health and food security sectors. Research conducted by ITFC indicates that the AfCFTA will contribute to the creation of regional value chains and will provide an opportunity for governments to participate in enhancing skills and investing in productive capacities which will accelerate the regions return to more inclusive growth. ITFC together with its partners will continue to play its role towards the development of Arab-Africa trade as well as fostering stronger integration between African countries through trade facilitation.”
The roundtable session was graced by high-level speakers including AATB partners, stakeholders and Ministers of OIC member countries who spoke on the theme; “Regional Value Chains and their Importance in increasing Trade and Investment Flows between Arab and African countries”. Key outcomes of this session highlighted upcoming focus areas in light of renewed direction following the COVID-19 pandemic and major successes achieved thus far, as well as demonstrating a commitment to strengthening cooperation while promoting the importance of inter-regional partnerships and the power of alliances in light of the AfCFTA.
Commenting on the signing of a memorandum of understating, Mr. Oussama Kaissi, CEO, Islamic Corporation for the Insurance of Investment and Export Credit (ICIEC) ICE-IK stated: “We look forward to effect this wide-ranging MoU with Afreximbank to facilitate and promote African trade. We are confident that the MoU will further consolidate our existing good relations with the Bank as we pursue our mutual objective of boosting intra Arab African trade in OIC member countries. In support of boosting intra trade between the two regions, ICIEC will leverage our tried and tested suite of de-risking and credit enhancement solutions.”
“ICD is keen to support the AATB Program by promoting and increasing the investment flows between African and Arab member countries. ICD will lead the Investment Pillar of the AATB Program, which aims to mobilize and allocate resources to impactful investments in Arab and African countries” said Mr. Ayman Sejiny, CEO, Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD).
Commenting on the potential of Arab-Africa value chain, Mr. Wamkele Mene, Secretary General, African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) said:” The African Continent contributes less than 3% to Global Trade and output and less than 2% to global GDP, which is largely because of the deficit in industrial capacity. This regional partnership presents an opportunity for all of us to identify critical value chains for productive sector investment to create jobs on the African continent.
On the sidelines of the 3rd Annual Board Meeting, a visit to Egypt’s Medicine City was organized to showcase Egypt’s capabilities in the medicine supply chain production. Africa’s healthcare industry is of great importance to the AATB Program, and this is reflected under AATB’s, “Harmonization of Pharmaceutical Standards” which aims to boost the manufacture of high-quality homegrown pharmaceutical products and services.
Since its launch in 2017, the Arab Africa Trade Bridges program has become the foremost platform in driving trade between Africa and the Arab regions with important initiatives that strengthen growth and prosperity in beneficiary countries.
About the Arab-Africa Trade Bridges (AATB) Program
AATB is a multi-donor, multi-country, and multi-organizations program, aiming to promote and increase trade and investment ﬂows between African and Arab member countries; provide and support trade ﬁnance and export credit insurance; and enhance existing capacity building tools relating to trade. The program specifically focuses on the key sectors of agriculture and related industries including textiles; health industry including pharmaceuticals; infrastructure and transport; and petrochemicals, construction material and technology.
About the International Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC)
The International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) is a member of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group. It was established with the primary objective of advancing trade among OIC member countries, which would ultimately contribute to the overarching goal of improving socioeconomic conditions of the people across the world. Commencing operations in January 2008, ITFC has provided more than US$61 billion of financing to OIC member countries, making it the leading provider of trade solutions for these member countries’ needs. With a mission to become a catalyst for trade development for OIC member countries and beyond, the Corporation helps entities in member countries gain better access to trade finance and provides them with the necessary trade-related capacity building tools, which would enable them to successfully compete in the global market.
African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) is a Pan-African multilateral financial institution mandated to finance and promote intra-and extra-African trade. Afreximbank deploys innovative structures to deliver financing solutions that support the transformation of the structure of Africa’s trade, accelerating industrialization and intra-regional trade, thereby boosting economic expansion in Africa. The Bank has a rich history of intervening in support of African countries in times of crisis. Through the Pandemic Trade Impact Mitigation Facility (PATIMFA) launched in April 2020, Afreximbank has disbursed more than US$7 billion to help member countries manage the adverse impact of the financial, economic, and health shocks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. A stalwart supporter of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), Afreximbank has launched a Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS) that was adopted by the African Union (AU) as the payment and settlement platform to underpin the implementation of the AfCFTA. Afreximbank is working with the AU and the AfCFTA Secretariat to develop an Adjustment Facility to support countries in effectively participating in the AfCFTA. At the end of 2020, the Bank’s total assets and guarantees stood at US$21.5 billion, and its shareholder funds amounted to US$3.4 billion. Afreximbank disbursed more than US$42 billion between 2016 and 2020. The Bank has ratings assigned by GCR (international scale) (A-), Moody’s (Baa1), Japan Credit Rating Agency (JCR) (A-) and Fitch (BBB-). The Bank is headquartered in Cairo, Egypt.
About the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD)
The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) is a multilateral development financial institution and is member of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group. ICD was established in November 1999 to support the economic development of its member countries through the provision of finance for private sector projects, promoting competition and entrepreneurship, providing advisory services to the governments and private companies, and encouraging cross border investments. ICD is Rated A2’ by Moody’s, ‘A’ by S&P and, A+ by Fitch. ICD establishes and strengthens cooperation and partnership relationships with an aim to establish joint or collective financing. ICD also applies financial technology (Fintech) to make financing more efficient and comprehensive.
About the Islamic Corporation for the Insurance of Investment and Export Credit (ICIEC)
ICIEC is a member of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group. ICIEC was established in 1994 to strengthen the economic relations between member countries of the OIC. Since its inception, the utilization of ICIEC services by member countries reached USD 106.34 billion of trade and investments. ICIEC’s cover has been provided to its 47 member countries across the Muslim world, assisting in their economic prosperity, development and diversification. ICIEC is rated Aa3 insurance financial strength credit by Moody’s with a Stable Outlook. ICIEC’s vision is to be recognized as the preferred enabler of trade and investment for sustainable economic development in Member Countries. Its mission is to facilitate trade and investment between member countries and the world through the provision of Shariah compliant risk mitigation tools and financial solutions.
About Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA)
The Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA) was established pursuant to the resolution of the 6th Arab Summit Conference at Algiers (28th November 1973). The Bank began operations in March 1975. BADEA is a financial institution owned by eighteen Arab countries members of the League of Arab States (LAS) which signed its Establishing Agreement on 18th February 1974. The Bank is an independent International Institution enjoying full international legal status and complete autonomy in administrative and financial matters. It is governed by the provisions of its Establishing Agreement and the principles of international law.