The Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) has recently embarked on a five-day promotional tour of Kenya, Ethiopia and other Eastern and Northern African countries as part of the local chamber’s efforts to create stronger bilateral trade relations and develop investment opportunities between Sharjah and the African region. The tour, which will run until February 25, 2010, is part of the SCCI’s ‘Foreign Visit’ program and aims to reinforce trade and economic ties between Sharjah and its counterparts from other countries. The five-day visit is also part of the SCCI’s ‘Made in Sharjah’ initiative, which aims to promote the emirate’s local products and services and allow chamber members to tap into new markets outside the region.
The 13-member SCCI delegation comprises H.E. Mohammad Sultan Bin Houwaden, First Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors, SCCI; Hussein Mohammed Al Mahmoudi, Director General, SCCI; Ahmed Mohamed Fekri, SCCI board member; in addition to a number of officials and businessmen from various vital investment and economic sectors. The delegation will discuss ways to promote trade exchange and develop cooperative relations and strategic partnerships.
Commenting on the promotional tour, Al Mahmoudi said: “The SCCI’s promotional visit to these key African countries complements the recently formed strategic partnership with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). Throughout the years, Sharjah and the UAE in particular, have enjoyed strong business relations with COMESA member countries. In fact, the total value of the bilateral trade exchange activities of the two parties reached AED 30 billion in 2008—marking a 39 per cent increase from 2007, 120 per cent from 2006 and accounted for 3.6 per cent of the country’s foreign trade. In this regard, these positive results underscore the importance of intensifying the public and private sectors’ efforts to enhance cooperation by creating investment opportunities in vital sectors.”
Al Mahmoudi added: “Kenya and Ethiopia are regarded as major member countries of COMESA. The SCCI had signed a MoU with COMESA last year in line with our strategy to develop economic relations between the business community of the UAE and the African countries of COMESA. In addition, the UAE companies play an important investment role in the African countries and countries of the COMESA in particular. Hence, we aim to identify feasible projects and investment opportunities and provide all the necessary support to facilitate the entry of SCCI members and the businessmen of Sharjah, and the UAE as a whole, to the African markets.”
Mohammad Jumaa Al Mushrakh, Head of Exhibition and Conference section, SCCI, said: “The African markets are some of the most active consumer markets due to their high population density, representing around 14 per cent of the total world population. African countries are recognized as vital gateways for employment and natural resources that provide self-sufficiency in many economic sectors. The SCCI trade visit aims to look at business opportunities in industries like tourism, real estate, hospitality, finance, transportation, telecommunication, agriculture, and construction.”
The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) is made up of countries that include Egypt, Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Libya, Madagascar, Seychelles, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Rwanda, Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Comoros. COMESA has been described by economic and financial experts to possess vast natural resources and large manpower skill reserves—prerequisites in the efforts to achieve economic development.
The SCCI has recently launched various initiatives that seek to create, strengthen, promote and recognize key players in Sharjah’s economic growth and development. These new initiatives include the ‘Made in Sharjah’ program, which promotes the emirate’s wide array of products and services and the ‘Sharjah Economic Excellence Award,’ which encourages the private sector to take up causes and initiatives that can help bolster Sharjah’s economic growth and development.
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