The International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC), a member of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the African Union to partner on joint activities to boost inter-regional trade between African and Arab OIC member countries and help enterprises tap into large-scale opportunities across the region.
The MoU was signed by the African Union’s Commissioner of Trade and Industry, Albert Muchanga, representing the Chairperson of the AU Commission, and ITFC CEO, Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol.
“The signing of the MOU formalises the partnership between AU and ITFC and opens new avenues and opportunities for collaboration to increase intra-Africa trade, in particular in the context of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), under which trading will start on 1st July 2020,” indicated Commissioner Muchanga.
The benefits of the MoU were outlined by the CEO of the ITFC, Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol: “This MoU comes at a time of great progress for African cooperation, serving to align common socio-economic goals with sustainable trade development and a shared desire to serve the continent’s 1.3 billion citizens with quality African goods and services.
Collaborating on the Intra African Trade Fair and the Arab-Africa Trade Bridges Program makes very good sense and this MoU allows us to work comprehensively to further our mutual goal of improving lives and enhancing trade in the continent.”
One of the key initiatives that would be at the centre of the collaboration between the two organizations is the Arab-Africa Trade Bridges (AATB) Program, launched by ITFC in 2017 to unlock regional trade and investment opportunities between the Arab and African regions. With 27 OIC member countries in Africa, the MOU provides a framework for accelerating the social andeconomic integration of the continent; and to promote sustainable development.
Areas of collaboration will include trade promotion between African OIC member countries through the Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF), which will hold its second edition on 1-7 September 2020 in Kigali, Rwanda, where ITFC is a key partner through the Arab Africa Trade Bridges (AATB) Program –ITFC’s flagship program.
The MoU comes at a critical moment in the region’s history, only months after the ratification of the AfCFTA by 28 African countries, which represents a major alignment of strategies that will serve to further develop regional and global value chains.
AU Commissioner for Trade and Industry, commenting on the objectives of the MoU, indicated that, “By collaborating with the ITFC we are able to fast-track many of the benefits of the new Continental Free Trade Area including through support to African SMEs, support to State Parties to implement complementary measures for the productive sector and facilitation of the emergence of “big and innovative companies” on the continent.
With these interventions, AU-ITFC’s partnership will undoubtedly contribute to boosting trade not only between the 27 African OIC countries but also between them and the other African countries and beyond.