ITFC, Ministers of Planning and Trade Conclude Workshop to Support 50 Egyptian Companies to Enter Africa’s Markets
10 June 2021
Nevin Gamea: Egypt implements an action plan to boost trade and economic relations with African countriesAimed at enhancing skills and resilience to boost the capacity of Egyptian exporters, the first training program for exporters on “Entering African Markets” was concluded today in Cairo, which is organized by the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) in cooperation with the Export Development Authority under the Arab-Africa Trade Bridges (AATB) Program for 5 days. With representatives of 50 Egyptian companies, the final day of the program was also attended by H.E. Mrs. Nevin Gamea, Minister of Trade and Industry, under whose patronage the training program was held, H.E. Dr. Hala El Said, Minister of Planning and Economic Development, and Governor of the Arab Republic of Egypt at the Islamic Development Bank, and Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol, CEO ITFC. In her speech, H.E. Minister Nevin Gamea referred to the African market as one of particular strategic significance for Egyptian exports in various productive sectors, noting the importance of strengthening joint efforts to benefit from all trade potential and opportunities and to leverage on regional trade agreements in the African continent to increase Egyptian exports to African markets. The Minister pointed underscored the importance of this program in being the first one to provide Egyptian entrepreneurs the opportunity to build their capacity and resilience to enter African markets, pointing out that the program comes within the framework of the directives of His Excellency President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to reach Egyptian exports to $ 100 billion annually. Gamea added that the program reflects the state's strategy towards venturing into African markets, noting that Egyptian exports to African markets amounted to about $3.9 billion last year, which represents less than 1% of the continent's imports. To venture into African markets, the Ministry has prepared an action plan to leverage regional integration agreements signed between Egypt and its various partners from African countries. The first pillar in the action plan focuses on maximizing the benefit of trade agreements with African countries by overcoming all obstacles facing Egyptian exports through monitoring negotiations on customs duties and rules of origin under the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCFTA), which includes 55 African countries. The action plan also includes a logistics pillar, which focuses on coordinating with national authorities to overcome challenges in regards to transport, in addition to cooperating with the Ministry of Transport to review the operation of direct shipping lines for African countries, especially for West African countries. From this standpoint, Gamea affirmed Egypt's commitment to build bridges of economic cooperation between the countries of the African continent and to draw a clear road map towards African industrial integration through the exchange of ideas and harmonization of strategies; aimed towards deepening industrial and commercial cooperation following the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area, which represents the real starting for African integration. During her speech, H.E. Dr. Hala El Said underscored the value of the Exporters Training Program entitled Entering African Markets, which comes under the umbrella of the Arab Africa Trade Bridges Program, which in turn aims to enhance trade and investment flows between Arab and African countries and maximize promising economic opportunities. She added that this comes within a framework of a strategy aimed at enhancing the efficiency of public and private institutions in trade, with the establishment of a virtual platform to strengthen the interlinkage between trade support institutions, policymakers, and other participants in the field of international trade. El-Said added that this is the first program to train Egyptian exporters on tangible mechanisms to access African markets, benefiting marketing managers and representatives from 50 companies from the targeted exporting sectors in many fields. El-Said stressed that the program aligns with the objectives of the National Structural Reform Program, which aims to boost the Egyptian economy, localize technology, raise the competitiveness of Egyptian exports, enhance sectors capable of penetrating foreign markets, raise export rates, and diversify exported goods, products and services. On top of that, she explained that the deepening of cooperation with ITFC builds on a successful and historic partnership that included many important programs that are already being implemented, most notably the Aid for Trade Initiative for Arab States (AfTIAS) program and the She Trades Egypt project, which aims to support women’s economic empowerment and contribute to comprehensive and sustainable development. Dr. Hala El Said pointed out that discussions with Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol, CEO ITFC, included reviewing the implementation of an additional number of important programs, most notably the creation of a virtual trade portal mapping producers and exporters to provide them with their targeted needs and allow them to rely on national products to bolster local supply chains. El-Said added that all of these programs come within the framework of fruitful cooperation with the corporation and its remarkable development contribution, which has so far resulted in a cooperation portfolio worth about $12.5 billion. El-Said referred to the existing cooperation between Egypt and the ITFC through the General Authority for Supply Commodities and the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation to enhance their ability to mitigate the economic repercussions of the pandemic, undermining Egypt's keenness to deepen cooperation with international development partners from all regional and international financing institutions. In his speech, Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol underscored Egypt’s commitment to supporting ITFC’s programs, particularly the Arab-Africa Trade Bridges Program, and praised the ongoing continuous development efforts that drive the national economy forward in various fields in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. He added that since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, ITFC has taken the initiative to foster solidarity and harmonize the coordination among member countries, including the Arab region, to ensure that all services during the COVID-19 pandemic are provided and to mitigate its negative impacts. Under the Arab-Africa Trade Bridges Program, projects are being implemented with short and long-term objectives through three phases: response, recovery, and rebuild. This program included organizing a series of workshops and technical assistance for the private sector held in Cairo in December of last year and then in Damietta in March of this year, to enable it to have access to promising opportunities in African markets. Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol also referred to the pioneering role of the AATB Program, which has been led by the ITFC since its launch in 2017 to deepen regional integration between African and Arab countries, as well as bolster the growth of export business for small and medium-sized enterprises across various sectors. He added that the challenges of the pandemic are creating a shift towards innovation and the creation of new sustainable markets, which represents an opportunity to foster further engagement with international, regional, and local partners in Egypt, given the country's strategic location as a gateway to the African market. In that regard, Sonbol added that the ITFC and the AATB Program are putting particular emphasis on Egypt’s national development vision to push for export-led development and increase exports to $100 billion over the next five years. For his part, Minister of Trade Commissioner Mamdouh Salman, head of the Export Development Authority, noted that the program mainly aims to create a pool of young entrepreneurs with the right skills and technical knowledge to export to African markets. These entrepreneurs represent 50 Egyptian companies that represent key priority sectors that are essential to boost Egypt's export capacity, such as pharmaceuticals, building materials, agriculture, and textiles. These activities complement the joint activities program being implemented under the umbrella of the Arab-Africa Trade Bridges Program in Egypt, in cooperation between the Export Development Authority and the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation, which aims to create a generation of new exporters, and encourage the development of new export products in existing markets and promising new markets in Africa. He pointed out that the program included training officials and export specialists for 50 companies from the targeted export sectors, including building materials, chemical industries, medical and pharmaceutical industries, engineering industries, printing and packaging, paper products, furniture, and food industries. The program also includes workshops on regulations governing the export process, in addition to familiarity with the legal aspects of international contracts, identifying sources of financing and payment mechanisms, as well as lessons learned on how to avoiding export risks and benefit from international agreements with African countries. Salman explained that two workshops were also organized in Cairo and Damietta as part of the joint activities program in cooperation with the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation, adding that work is underway to organize other workshops in other governorates and to organize a similar training program to train exporters in Alexandria. The head of the Export Development Authority indicated that the program of joint activities between the authority and the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation will be concluded this year by organizing trade missions and arranging meetings on the sidelines of the Intra-African Trade Fair 2021 in its second session in the Rwandan capital Kigali in December 2021. The event was concluded by HE Mrs. Nevin Gamea, Minister of Trade and Industry, who handed out certificates to export officials and specialists that have participated in the training program from 50 companies in various export sectors. Over five days, the workshop helped spotlight opportunities for trade in Africa, the training program aims to forge an integrated export strategy for the African market and map the opportunities across Africa’s diverse countries and cities, focusing on building long-term resilience into their business models, outlining promotion strategies and understanding the legal landscape of the continent.
Hala El-Said: Training of exporters aligns with the objectives of Egypt's structural reforms program
Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol: We are working in line with Egypt’s National Development Strategy to support the increase in Egyptian exports over the next five years
About the International Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC)The International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) is a member of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group. It was established with the primary objective of advancing trade among Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member countries, which would ultimately contribute to the overarching goal of improving the socio-economic conditions of the people across the world. Commencing operations in January 2008, ITFC has provided US$55 billion of financing to OIC member countries, making it the leading provider of trade solutions for these member countries’ needs. With a mission to become a catalyst for trade development for OIC member countries and beyond, the Corporation helps entities in member countries gain better access to trade finance and provides them with the necessary trade-related capacity-building tools, which would enable them to successfully compete in the global market.