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    Monday, July 8, 2024

    AATB Concludes 4th Board of Governors Meeting to Strengthen Arab-African Trade and Collaboration

    Milestone Agreements Forge New Pathways in African-Arab Trade Relations.

    The Arab Africa Trade Bridges (AATB) Program is pleased to announce the successful conclusion of its 4th Board of Governors (BoG) Meetings. These meetings were held in conjunction with the Tunisia Africa Business Meeting (TABM) from July 2, 2024, in Tunis, Tunisia. This event represents a significant milestone in promoting trade, economic cooperation, and regional integration between Africa and the Arab world.

    The 11th Executive Committee Meeting which was held on 1st July featured high-level sessions focused on areas such as agricultural sustainability, food security and the economic empowerment of Arab and African nations. The meeting drew participation from key stakeholders and representatives of member institutions, including the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC), Islamic Corporation for Investment and Export Credit (ICIEC), Islamic for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) and Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA).  

    Mrs. Feryel Ouerghi Sebai, Minister of Economy and Planning, Tunisia, stressed the importance of the "Arab Africa Trade Bridges" program as a renewed mechanism to consolidate economic relations between Arab and African countries, highlighting the Tunisian government's enthusiasm to contribute effectively and actively to any joint work aimed at further linking interests for the benefit of all member countries. The Minister indicated that Arab and African countries are rich in resources and capabilities that qualify them to establish economic, trade, and investment partnerships in many sectors, pointing out that the AATB Program is an effective mechanism in supporting economic cooperation between member states.

    During his welcome remarks, Prof. Benedict Oramah, President and Chairman of the Board of Afreximbank and Chairman of the AATB Executive Committee said, In recent years, a new form of cooperation for mutual benefit has ushered in a new era in Arab-Africa economic relations. The AATB program has further expanded these relations and provided a platform for growing trade and investment relations between the two regions. With its focus on Trade, Investment, Insurance, and Infrastructure, the Program provides a platform for enhancing this expansion and deepening of relations.  This is particularly important in the context of the AfCFTA which has created an integrated market of 1.3 billion people with a combined GDP of over US$3.4 trillion”.

    Addressing the gathering, Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol, CEO, ITFC and Acting CEO ICD, and Secretary General of AATB Program said, “The cultural and economic ties between African and Arab regions have been impacted in recent decades for various reasons. However, we have seen many initiatives aiming to strengthen and revive the special interest that has characterized the relations between both regions for centuries. I am calling on all countries to take advantage of the benefits and activities offered by the AATB Program. To enable the AATB Program to play its role effectively, we must provide the Program and its general secretariat with the necessary resources and support, including transforming the program into a regional institution.”

    In line with the AATB Program’s commitment to fostering sustainable economic growth and resilience in both regions, the event provided the platform for stakeholders to strengthen partnerships through the signing of several agreements including:

    Letter of Intent for Egypt's Membership Renewal in the AATB Program: Which aims to boost Egypt's exports, support various economic sectors, and implement a comprehensive work plan.

    Agreement to Support the Development of the Common African Agro-Parks (CAAPs) Programme: Between ITFC, Afreximbank, and the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), aimed at providing institutional support for the CAAPs Programme from 2024 to 2026. This initiative is designed to enhance agricultural productivity and sustainability in Africa, focusing on creating agro-industrial parks that serve as hubs for innovation, technology transfer, and economic development.

    In addition, a Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) between the Tunisian Agency for Technical Cooperation (ATCT) and ITFC: aimed at developing and supporting technical capacities and skills development in ITFC member countries. The cooperation covers areas such as implementing projects to support technical capacities, selecting Tunisian experts for technical assistance missions, and organizing training courses, workshops, and seminars in Tunisia.

    A highlight of the event was a panel discussion on “Bridging the Gap to Support Food Security”. In 2023 Arab-Africa Trade Bridges Program established a US$1.5 billion Food Security Programme to address pressing food security challenges in the Arab and African region with the aim of enhancing agricultural productivity, ensuring sustainable food systems, and improving the livelihoods of communities across Arab and African countries.

    The AATB Program focuses on trade, investment, insurance, and infrastructure to enhance economic cooperation. Planned initiatives include expanding programs, addressing challenges like climate change and food security, and promoting collaboration among member countries. The program will also enhance capacity-building efforts, improve access to financing for SMEs, and encourage innovation and technology transfer through strategic partnerships and global initiatives.

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