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Catalyzing Trade in Africa Through ARBG
- Capitalize on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA): The AfCFTA is more than a free trade agreement; it's a blueprint for Africa's future. ARBG seeks to leverage this potential to its fullest, supporting businesses with the knowledge and tools to navigate the treaty's provisions.
- Equip businesses for success: ARBG is providing businesses with the tools they need to navigate the complex landscape of intra-African trade, including country-by-country trade assessments and training in the private investment process and business management.
- Tackle trade barriers: ARBG seeks to identify the obstacles faced by entrepreneurs seeking to trade across borders and support companies by identifying solutions, creating linkages and advocating for policy changes as applicable.
- Lack of capital: Many firms looking to break into the export market struggle to access trade financing, hindering their ability to expand their operations.
- Complexities of transportation, logistics and borders: SMEs looking to expand their horizons face concerns over time-consuming logistics and paperwork with the potential for goods to get lost in transit.
- Scarcity of quality research and granular data: Lack of reliable data is an impediment to informed decision-making across the continent.
- Equipping businesses with the skills and data: To help businesses thrive in a new era of regional trade, ARBG offers targeted training for SMEs interested in trade in East Africa. The project also develops country-by-country trade assessments that outline the barriers to trade faced by entrepreneurs and conducts research on finance opportunities and market intelligence.
- Influencing policy: ARBG aims to shape the future of trade policy by offering recommendations based on findings.
- Investing directly in businesses: Keen on regional trade, ARBG is walking the talk by investing in SMEs, supporting them in their business growth through finance, market research and support building the foundations of their businesses.
- Financing: Though repeatedly acknowledged as a challenge, the trade financing gap remains a key challenge for companies, partly due to the conservative nature of the banking sector. The solution likely lies within the private sector, where tech-based startups are now looking to fill the gap. Looking at how this burgeoning industry can be fostered (through private investment, regulatory reform, etc.) is recommended.
- Reliable Data: There's a pressing need for quality research and granular data to guide decision-making. Solutions could build on existing data repositories (e.g., East Africa Community (EAC) Open Data For Africa, Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC) data portal), but should also include specific product details and sub-country-level data.
- Import Substitution: Almost all companies we spoke to spent a significant amount of capital and time importing key ingredients. Swapping expensive foreign imports with regionally produced options offers significant opportunities for companies. Significant outreach and marketing is still needed to ensure the AfCFTA’s recently launched platforms like the Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS) and the Africa Trade Exchange become trusted tools for traders to find and connect with new high-quality, cost-effective and accessible suppliers from the region.
- SME Coordination: Among the Regional Economic Communities (RECs), a desire remains for the private sector to take greater ownership of coordinating amongst themselves to yield commercial linkages and pressure states to prioritize trade policy upgrades. While ultimately these processes need to be owned by SMEs, the RECs and their corresponding business councils can play an important role in jumpstarting these initiatives.
- Recent developments related to trade liberalization in Africa
- Benefits of regional trade
- Deployable strategies to increase trade
- How to develop regional market entry strategies and execute trade plans
- Tools to facilitate (new) regional market entry.