The organisers of the Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF2021) met with the business community in Cairo, Egypt, on October 5, to raise awareness and encourage attendance to the second Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF2021).Organised by the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) in collaboration with the African Union (AU) and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat, IATF2021 will take place in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, from 15 to 21 November 2021.
In his opening remarks, Prof. Benedict Oramah, President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Afreximbank, said that the Intra-African Trade Fair, for which the journey began in Cairo in 2018, should be the springboard on which Egyptian businesses expand their investments and trade with their counterparts from other parts of Africa.
“We have already shown the realisable benefits, let us build on the momentum created by the AfCFTA and the previous IATF-linked achievements by being fully represented at the forthcoming Trade Fair in Durban, South Africa. We also urge the Egyptian youth to take advantage of the continental platform to showcase their talents and innovation as part of the culture and creative, as well as the youth start-up segments of the Fair,” the statement by Afreximbank quoted Prof Oramah as saying.
The statement added that Mrs. Maii Assal, Chairman of Egypt Expo & Convention Authority (EECA), said in her welcome remarks that Egypt would be hosting a pavilion of 882 square metres at IATF2021.
“The Egyptian pavilion at IATF2021 will be showcasing the goods and services of 41 Egyptian companies across numerous sectors: banking services; cars; chemical industries; engineering industries; food; furniture; handicrafts; leather; ready-made garments; spinning and weaving; and more.
“Egypt’s exhibitors include the National Bank, which will be addressing issues related to financial transactions of trade between African countries; and one of its most prominent companies, MCV, which is in the automotive industry,” said Mrs. Assal.
In his Keynote Address, Mr. Hesham Tawfik, Minister of Public Business Sector, Egypt, stated that his Ministry and the Egyptian Government were revisiting the map of branches covering more African countries via a lesser number of effective hubs providing a wide range of services for traders across the continent.
“We have a new business model, we are relying on intermediation rather than trading, and providing logistic services bundled in a one-stop shop. The human factor is very important to us, our branches will be led by each countries’ residents, who we believe know more about doing business in their societies. The main task for the branch managers will be to identify a network of wholesalers and agents in the hubs and the countries around the hubs,” said Mr. Tawfik.
Prior to the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, Egypt already had free trade agreements with many African countries conferring significant trade advantages and making Africa one of the most important markets for Egyptian exports.
However, the volume of intra-regional trade between Egypt and Africa is very small compared to the opportunities available in the continent. In 2019 the volume of Egyptian exports to Africa was estimated at about $4.767 billion, equating to 16% of the Egypt’s total exports, and less than 1% of the continent’s total global imports.
The AfCFTA agreement will open new markets for Egyptian exports, especially with West African countries, where there was no preferential framework between Egypt and those countries. The competitiveness of Egypt’s goods and services in these markets will increase significantly as a result of the AfCFTA.
The IATF2021 Roadshow in Cairo featured a panel discussion under the theme: ‘Promoting Egypt-Africa Trade and Investment relations in the Context of the Implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)’ with the participation of Mr. Mamdouh Salman, Chairman, Export Development Authority, Egypt; Ms. Kanayo Awani, Managing Director, Intra-African Trade Initiative, Afreximbank; Mr. Ibrahim Al-Araby, President, Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce; Mr. Mohamed Ali, Director, Trade in Goods and Competition, AfCFTA Secretariat; Dr. Yousrey Elsharkawi, Chairman, Egyptian-Africa Businessmen’s Association (EABA); and Dr. Ahmed Fikry Abdel Wahab, Vice President, African Association of Automobile Manufacturers (AAAM).