Under the umbrella of the Arab-Africa Trade Bridges (AATB) program, three Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group private sector entities hosted a webinar on key trade finance and investment components aimed at fostering regional trade. The entities included the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC), the Islamic Corporation for the Insurance of Investment and Export Credit (ICIEC) and the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD), in collaboration with IsDB Group business forum “Thiqah.” More than 1,000 development institutions, sovereign funds, banks, investment and private equity companies, and key government and corporate sector representatives were in attendance.
The event on Feb. 4, which focused on the investment, trade and insurance pillars of the AATB program, showcased potential business opportunities existing between the two regions particularly in key industries such as agro-food, health and pharmaceutical, building and construction materials and equipment, as well as machinery and electrical equipment. Projects and activities involving the growth of trade-related investment and knowledge and technology transfer between the Arab and African countries were explored with the aim of growing the AATB member base.
The webinar was inaugurated with keynote speeches from Oussama Kaissi, chief executive of the ICIEC; Ayman Sejiny, chief executive of the ICD; and Hani Salem Sonbol, chief executive of the ITFC.
In his opening address, Kaissi, said: “Despite the tragedy presented by the pandemic, these unprecedented times have brought development institutions together to seek solutions and encourage innovation, teaching us that the best way forward is together. ICIEC believes that through the AATB program, our multilateral efforts can enhance pandemic responses, capacity building efforts, and economic security, providing the citizens of Arab and African countries the knowledge and materials to build a better future.”
Sonbol said: “Since its launch in 2017, AATB has become the foremost platform in driving trade between the Arab and African regions, with important initiatives that strengthen growth and prosperity in beneficiary countries. The program facilitates financial and technical support for trade and investment-related activities aimed at promoting intra-trade between the regions through specific interventions and dedicated trade finance and investment components.”
Sejiny said: “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, including recovery packages to overcome the adverse impacts of COVID-19. In line with our global approach, we aim to expand existing and build new partnerships with financial institutions to design and launch special financial packages for the benefit of member countries under the umbrella of the AATB program.”
Key outcomes from this session noted considerable progress in terms of launching and implementing the projects involving the growth of trade investment and technology transfer between Arab and African countries. The session also addressed the key challenges limiting the business community and urged trade and investment authorities of the countries in both regions to nurture an environment where the parties can benefit from the opportunities that exist.