Egyptian businesses set to grasp the benefits of the AfCFTA

Sara Al-Issawy , Tuesday 5 Oct 2021

The organisers of the Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF2021) met on Tuesday with members of the business community in Cairo to encourage them to attend the upcoming trade and investment event.

Prof. Benedict Oramah, President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Afreximbank

Organised by the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) in collaboration with the African Union (AU) and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat, the IATF2021 will take place in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, from 15 to 21 November 2021.

Benedict Oramah, president and chairman of the board of directors of Afreximbank, said the Intra-African Trade Fair 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,” Oramah said in his opening remarks at the meeting.

“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,” Oramah said.

Egypt will be hosting a pavilion of 882 square metres at IATF2021, which will be showcasing the goods and services of 41 Egyptian companies across numerous sectors, including banking services, cars, chemical industries, engineering industries, food, furniture, handicraft, leather, ready-made garments, spinning and weaving.

Egypt’s exhibitors include the National Bank, which will be addressing issues related to financial transactions of trade between African countries, and the MCV, which is one of the most prominent companies in the automotive industry.

Egypt’s Minister of the Public Business Sector Hesham Tawfik, who was present at Tuesday’s meeting, said that “we are 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 and we are relying on intermediation rather than trading, and providing logistical services bundled in a one-stop-shop. The human factor is very important to us and hence our branches will be led by each countries’ residents, who we believe know more about doing business in their societies.”

The minister noted that the main task for the branch managers would be to identify a network of wholesalers and agents in the hubs and the countries around the hubs.

“We are using advanced technology in running the business and we are having an e-catalogue which is constantly updated including Egyptian exportable goods and the import needs of raw materials and semi-finished products that can be traded with other African countries as well as global trading centres.”

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 percent of Egypt’s total exports, and less than 1 percent of the continent's total global imports.

For observers, 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.

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