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Inter-Africa Trade Fair postponed to September 2021
May 7, 2020, 10:05 pm

Due to Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown regulations

The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), the African Union (AU) and the Government of Rwanda have decided to postpone the second Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF2020) to September 6 to 12 September 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic and consequent lockdown regulations. It will now be branded as IATF2021.

Afreximbank President Benedict Oramah said that the continuing COVID-19 pandemic situation was not conducive to holding such an important pan-African event.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has forced Governments, corporations and individuals to take unprecedented measures to ensure public safety. It is our responsibility to comply with these measures to protect our host country and ensure the health and safety of all delegates, exhibitors and participants who have confirmed or expressed interest in taking part in the second edition of IATF,” he said.

The inaugural IATF was held in Cairo, Egypt from December 11 to 17, 2018 and exceeded the targets set by the organizing 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 US$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 US$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 was supposed to be implemented from 1 July 2020, but this implementation date has also been postponed, but as yet no new date has been set.

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 utilization.

Professor Chris Adendorff from the Nelson Mandela University Business School said he would have preferred to see the IATF postponed to later this year, rather than to September next year.

“They should have kept it till later in the year,” he told The BRICS Post.

Sandile Ndlovu, the CEO of the South African Aerospace Maritime & Defence Export Council, who had attended the 2018 IATF, agreed with the decision to postpone it to September 2021.

“We were planning to be part of the 2020 edition and we will be part of the 2021 edition. This is a very important event for Africa integration and intra-Africa trade. Lives before business – so yes it was a correct decision. Considering the fact that most African countries are yet to reach the peak of covid-19 infections, it would have been very risky to proceed during this period,” he told The BRICS Post.

Helmo Preuss in Makhanda, South Africa for The BRICS Post