Dubai Exports, a unit of the Department of Economic Development (DED) in Dubai, and the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) recently hosted a forum to promote trade and investment between Arab and African countries

The two-day Agri-Food Forum was attended by 40 companies from 15 African countries, witnessed over 200 business-to-business (B2B) meetings on building mutual relations and enhancing agri-food exports.

Organised under the umbrella of the Arab-Africa Trade Bridges Program (AATB), the forum highlighted the potential that agri-foods have in promoting domestic productivity, in creating jobs in Arab and African countries, and in facilitating mutual trade and investment.

Mohammed Ali Al Kamali, deputy CEO of Dubai Exports, said the forum primarily sought to enhance relations between the private sector in Africa and the UAE so that they are well-positioned to take advantage of existing and emerging opportunities in both regions.

"A key element of the Dubai Exports strategy is to support and create platforms for buyers and suppliers to share information on new and emerging markets,” Al Kamali said.

“Africa is an outstanding opportunity, as is evident from the high growth and rising demand being witnessed across countries in the continent. Growing consumption, connectivity and vast prospects for exports and investment makes it particularly competitive for Arab companies to build relations with Africa. The Agri-Food Forum had 40 leading agri-food companies from Africa representing the increasingly diverse tastes and preferences in the South, East, West and Central Africa.”

Al Kamali added that the companies that represented different African markets in the forum were chosen on the basis of the growth rate and income levels of individuals, products imported from other countries, export advantage of Arab countries, and the scale of potential opportunities and challenges in each market.

Agri-food companies from Mauritania, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Benin, Gabon, Sudan, Uganda, Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya and Mozambique were among the participants in the forum.

Hani Salem Sonbol, CEO ITFC said: "ITFC's collaboration with Dubai Exports reflects our shared interest in driving economic development across the Mena region and beyond. Through this forum, the AATB has been able to provide a practical springboard for intra-regional trade and in doing so act as a catalyst for sustainable economic growth and skilled employment in both regions.

“With the OIC's target to achieve 25 per cent of intra-OIC trade share by 2025, our collaboration with Dubai Exports is especially well-timed as we continue to work towards supporting private sector development and improved livelihoods in OIC member countries."

The forum was dedicated to B2B meetings thus enabling participants to engage face-to-face, sharing information and feedback on the demand and export modalities. An open discussion on customs facilities, existing trade agreements and the nature of African markets was the highlight of the opening day. Each participant was given a detailed trade report on all countries represented in the forum. – TradeArabia News Service

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