Lack of trade Information, not infrastructure, bane of intra-African trade — AFREXIMBANK

African Export-Import Bank, AFREXIMBANK. [Photo credit: Guardian Newspaper]

Limited knowledge about trade opportunities in African countries constitutes the greatest impediment to the growth of intra-African trade, the Executive Vice President for Business Development and Corporate Banking, African Export-Import Bank, AFREXIMBANK, Amr Kamel, has said.

Mr. Kamel, who was contributing to a panel of discussion at the Africa 2017 Forum in Egypt, said this was contrary to popular opinion that lack of infrastructure posed the biggest challenge to intra-African trade.

Mr. Kamel, whose view was contained in a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES by the spokesperson of the bank, Obi Emekekwue, said the main drawback to growth in trade in Africa was actually lack of information about trade opportunities in other African countries.

He said a recent study co-sponsored by AFREXIMBANK showed that some African countries were importing certain products at high costs from outside Africa than the same products being imported from nearby African countries.

Mr. Kamel noted that the fact that Africa was able to attain the current level of overall trade with existing infrastructure meant the challenge to intra-African trade was more than lack of adequate information.

African countries, he stated, were gradually beginning to realise that intra-African trade held the key to Africa’s development than many other issues.

He highlighted the efforts by AFREXIMBANK towards overall trade growth in Africa, including building certification centres to help address the issue of poor quality of goods produced in African countries.

“Having the goods certified to international standards would make them acceptable exports into the international markets,” Mr. Kamel said.

The Minister of Finance of Jamaica, Timothy McPherson Jr., said Africans in the Diaspora were key to the continent’s economic integration, since its members see investment in Africa in terms of the entire continent, rather than segmentation into countries and regions.

Meanwhile, AFREXIMBANK and Egyptian bank, Attijariwafa Bank, signed a memorandum of understanding, MoU, to enable them collaborate in developing an enlarged framework for cooperation in trade across Africa.

The president of AFREXIMBANK, Benedict Oramah, signed the agreement with the Chairman/CEO of Attijariwafa bank Group, Mohamed El Kettani, to ensure active participation of Attijariwafa bank in AFREXIMBANK’s equity and treasury base.

The agreement would also allow both bank to cooperate through the use of excess liquidity for placements under AFREXIMBANK’s deposit schemes aimed at financing trade across Africa.

They will also cooperate in facilitating the identification, preparation and co-financing of projects related to their respective areas of activities and in co-financing trade through the provision of line of credit confirmations.

In line with the agreement, Attijariwafa bank would act as a local administrative agent for AFREXIMBANK through its network in 15 African countries. The two parties also agreed to collaborate in building capacity and sharing information and staff.

“This MoU opens up the potential for our two institutions, working together, to make significant contributions toward unlocking the full potentials for delivering the much-needed developmental impact on our continent,” said Mr. Oramah, said.

“The MoU sets up a long-term strategic partnership between AFREXIMBANK and Attijariwafa bank as an integral part of our Intra-African Trade Initiative and will enable us to cooperate in providing innovative trade finance solutions,” he added.

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