The International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) on behalf of The Islamic Development Bank Group (IsDB), and in coordination with the League of Arab States hosted a high-level webinar themed “The role of the second phase of the Aid for Trade Initiative for Arab States (AfTIAS 2.0) in mitigating the negative effects of COVID-19 on trade in the Arab region”.
The webinar gathered high level officials and partners, and country representatives, where the discussion evolved around the success of the first phase of AfTIAS Program in 2014 to 2018, and the way forward in regards to designing and implementing the AfTIAS 2.0 and the important role it will play in view of COVID-19 negative impact on intra-trade among Arab Countries.
The webinar was inaugurated by Dr. Bandar Hajjar, President, Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group, Dr. Kamal Hassan Ali, Assistant Secretary General for Economic Affairs at the League of Arab States (LAS), and Eng. Hani Sani Sonbol, CEO, International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation and Chairman of the AfTIAS Program Board.
During his remarks, Dr. Bandar Hajjar, President IsDB Group pointed out the Islamic Development Bank gives great important to trade, and believes that AfTIAS 2.0 will act as a catalyst for cooperation between Arab countries and organizations that will undoubtedly contribute to achieving comprehensive and sustainable development in the Arab region, relying on trade as a force. A driver for development, job creation and prosperity.”
Also in attendance was Dr. Nevin Gamea, Minister of Trade and Industry of the Arab Republic of Egypt, who shared how Egypt has benefited from the first phase of AfTIAS and the country’s expectations for the second phase. Dr. Gamea pointed out that Egypt contributed proudly to the establishment of the first phase of the AfTIAS program, believing in joint Arab action. She also confirmed that the Arab Republic of Egypt has resolutely contributed to the design of the second phase of the program, as it hosted in October 2019 in Cairo, the workshop on “Theory of Change for the AfTIAS Program” under the supervision of the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
Dr. Kamal Hassan delivered a speech to the effect of continuing to support the General Secretariat of the League of Arab States, the second phase of the AfTIAS program and seeking to promote it at all levels, believing in the importance of the program in the Arab Joint Cooperation and aiming to achieve Arab economic integration.
In his address, Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol said that in the coming days, ITFC will begin, in coordination with the Program’s focal points in the Arab countries, to receive initial requests from countries to consider projects that are eligible for financing according to the conditions and standards approved by the AfTIAS Program and according to the resources available to it. He also stressed that the success of the Program in this special circumstance requires the concerted efforts of the beneficiary countries and the relevant Arab organizations and donors, and through his speech he invited Arab countries, funds and international organizations to provide support for this program.
From his end, Mr. Saqr bin Abdullah Al-Muqbel, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the World Trade Organization in Geneva (on behalf of the Arab Group to the WTO) who delivered an opening remark, stressed on the importance for “investing of the second phase of AfTIAS” which is key for the development of enterprises, MSMEs and e-commerce promotion.
Mr. Abdulmohsen Bin Abdulrahman Al-Khayal, Director-General, Saudi Exports Program, Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) emphasized that this webinar “is taking place at a difficult time in which the world is suffering from the pandemic and its impact, which includes developed and developing countries alike, and its impact has been doubled by the inability to determine the timeframe for its continuation.”
It is worth noting that the webinar witnessed the participation of many heads of relevant Arab organizations and a number of ambassadors and permanent delegates of Arab countries to the World Trade Organization, the Economic and Social Council contact points for the League of Arab States, and the AFTIAS 2.0 focal points.