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‘Tariffs, protectionism, poor infrastructure, others bane of region’s growth’

Gloria Nwafor

Feb. 12, 2020

The lingering non-resolution of tariffs among the continent’s economies, rising protectionism, and parlous infrastructure have remained a barrier to the region’s integration process.
Besides, lack of market information, among other barriers to trade, has also severely constrained intra-African trade and impeded the continent’s economic development for decades.
The President of African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), Prof. Benedict Oramah, made the observations, as Africa’s largest multilateral trade and finance lender begins registration for the second Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF2020).
“With the operational phase of the African Continental Free Trade Area starting to remove many of these obstacles just two months before the Intra-African Trade Fair, there has never been a better time for Africa’s vibrant and varied business sectors to grasp the opportunities to exponentially increase their intra-African and global trades.
“The Intra-African Trade Fair will widen networks and introduce new trading partners for business and government buyers and sellers from across Africa and beyond, enabling them to tap into new markets in multiple regions.
“Those attending the Trade Fair will be ideally positioned to access a single market of over 1.3 billion people and reap the full commercial benefits of the AfCFTA,” he said.
Meanwhile, registration has opened for IATF2020 scheduled to take place in Kigali, Rwanda, from September 1 to 7, this year.
Organised by Afreximbank, in collaboration with the African Union and hosted by the Government of Rwanda, IATF2020 is planned to be the year’s largest and most important trade-focused event in Africa.
It is also expected to result in the conclusion of trade and investment deals totalling more than $40 billion.
IATF2020 will enable the over 1,100 expected exhibitors and sponsors to showcase their products and services to business and government attendees from over 55 countries and to provide a marketplace for buyers and sellers to meet and explore business opportunities.
It will also feature Business-to-Business and Business-to-Government exchanges for the development of trade and investment.
The trade fair will also include the IATF Conference, which will run alongside the exhibition, featuring business leaders, ministers, trade financiers and other high-profile personalities addressing major African trade and investment issues.
Additionally, there will be a Virtual Trade Fair, a digital platform to enable businesses to participate remotely, including after the physical trade fair would have ended.
Country Days have also been set aside to allow interested countries dedicated days to highlight their trade and investment opportunities.
The inaugural Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF2018), which took place in Cairo, in December 2018, generated business deals worth more than $32 billion and drew accolades from many of the participants for the impact on their businesses.
A Nigerian businessman observed that a business introduction at the event “has changed the course of his company with a global reach now into South East Asia, Middle East, Africa itself and South America.”
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