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Monday 8 July 2024

Arab Africa Trade Bridges Program Marks Milestone Agreements in Tunis Summit


The Arab Africa Trade Bridges (AATB) Program has concluded its 4th Board of Governors (BoG) Meetings in Tunis, Tunisia, held alongside the Tunisia Africa Business Meeting (TABM) from July 2, 2024. The event stands as a significant milestone in bolstering trade, economic collaboration, and regional integration between African and Arab nations.

The 11th Executive Committee Meeting, convened on July 1st, featured pivotal discussions on agricultural sustainability, food security, and fostering economic empowerment across Arab and African countries. The sessions saw active participation from influential 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 Insurance of Investment and Export Credit (ICIEC), Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD), and the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA).

The engagements underscored a shared commitment to deepening economic ties and leveraging synergies to address mutual challenges, setting a positive trajectory for future collaborative efforts under the AATB initiative.
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.

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