League of Arab States and International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation MoU to Boost Business Activity in Africa

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The League of Arab States, a regional organization of Arab countries in and around North Africa, the Horn of Africa and Arabia, and the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC), a member of the Islamic Development Bank Group, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) aimed at accelerating cooperation in the development of intra-Arab trade.

Initial programs agreed under the agreement, such as the Arab Africa Trade Bridges Program and the second phase of the Aid for Trade Initiative for Arab States (AfTIAS) Program have been earmarked for rollout in a bid to meet set objectives towards strengthening cooperation between the two parties.

The Arab-Africa Foreign Trade Bridge is a regional trade promotion program aimed at addressing some of the challenges faced in promoting trade between the two regions.

The MoU will support the Greater Arab Free Trade Area through hosting regional training courses, conferences and workshops covering trade development area.

Signed during a Ministerial meeting of the Economic and Social Council of the League of Arab States (LAS) and ITFC in Cairo, Egypt this week, the MoU outlines clear objectives aimed at enhancing trade capacities and improving structures and mechanisms of trade cooperation among Arab countries.

As part of the agreement, LAS and ITFC have solidified their commitment to jointly coordinate the design, financing and implementation of technical assistance and capacity building programs as well as tackling issues related to the development of intra-Arab trade.

The MoU will also enable both parties to achieve their objectives of enhancing trade capacities among Arab countries as outlined in the ten-year work program adopted by the Islamic Summit Held in Makkah, as well as the Arab summit (the Jerusalem summit – Dhahran).

“The signing of this MoU is an important step towards enabling cooperation between the League of Arab States and ITFC,” said Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol, ITFC Chief Executive Officer.

“With our shared goals of achieving Arab economic integration and enhancing trade and capacity building activities within the region, we are very optimistic about the opportunities that will arise from this collaboration. This is an important step towards accelerating the process of trade development of Arab nations and their participation in the regional and global market,” he added.

Ambassador Kamal Hassan Ali, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Affairs at the League of Arab States, stated that the signing of the MoU will establish a legal basis for the cooperation between the League of Arab States and the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation.

“It will open up new prospects of collaboration which will certainly be reflected on the completion of the requirements of the Greater Arab Free Trade Area and therefore the Arab Customs Union.  Particularly, a decision has been communicated to the Economic and Social Council, at its current session, to further develop the Greater Arab Free Trade Area and conform with the World Trade Organization, as well as to similar regional agreements, which will positively affect the positioning of the intra-Arab trade,” Ali concluded.

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