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Inaugural Intra-Africa Trade Fair in Cairo exceeded targets
December 24, 2018, 11:29 am

Deals worth $32.6 billion announced

After the success of the IATF, Egypt will next host a meeting with BRICS countries [PREUSS]

The inaugural Intra-Africa Trade Fair (IATF) held in Cairo from 11 to 17 December exceeded the targets set by the organising committee when they approached the Afreximbank for sponsorship.

The ambitious targets the committee set was to attract at least 30 African country pavilions, get at least 1,000 exhibitors and be able to say agreements worth at least $25 billion were signed at the IATF.

In the event, the IATF attracted 42 African country pavilions, there were just more than 1,100 exhibitors of which 40 were from South Africa and agreements worth $32.6 billion were signed.

The idea behind the IATF was due to the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) in Kigali, Rwanda in March 2018 by 44 out of the 55 African Union member countries. This meant that there was only eight months available to organise the inaugural IATF.

The AfCFTA still has to be ratified by the respective legislatures and will only come into force once 22 countries have ratified it. In December 2018 only 13 countries have done so, but officials I spoke to you said they were confident that 12 other countries would ratify it early in 2019.

The countries that have ratified it are: Chad, eSwatini (formerly called Swaziland), Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Togo and Uganda.

Although Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria, has neither signed nor ratified the AfCFTA, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo was the Chairman of the IATF 2018 Advisory Council and there was a strong Nigerian presence at the IATF and a Nigerian Country Day.

In response to a question from The BRICS Post, Obasanjo said although the IATF was primarily aimed at encouraging intra-African trade, the aim was not to make the AfCFTA exclusionary, but rather that the BRICS and other-non African countries could help African industries grow by providing capital, knowhow and capital goods.

A reflection of this inclusionary vision is the fact that the China Export Import Bank was one of the main sponsors of the IATF and the next annual meeting of the Afreximbank will be held in Moscow, Russia in June 2019.

Egypt will also be hosting a meeting between Egypt and BRICS countries in the same month.

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa estimated that full implementation of the AfCFTA could increase intra-African trade by 52 per cent by 2022, compared with trade levels in 2010.

The AfCFTA aims to remove barriers to trade such as tariffs and import quotas, in order to allow the free flow of goods and services, which should reduce prices for consumers and allow factories to exploit the benefits of scale and increased capacity utilisation.

Kigali in Rwanda will host the next IATF in 2020 and the organisers expect that the success of the Cairo event will attract even more African countries and exhibitors.

Helmo Preuss covering the IATF in Cairo, Egypt for The BRICS Post

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