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SCCI Pushes For Stronger Business Relations With Eastern And Southern African Countries

Chamber signs strategic MoU to create investment roadmap of opportunities between Sharjah and COMESA countries

The Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) made the call for stronger and more solid business ties with countries in the Eastern and Southern African region during a special meeting with the ministers of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) held today (December 17, 2009) at the SCCI headquarters in Sharjah, UAE. The event was held in cooperation with the Federation of UAE Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) and was attended by Sheikha Dr. Hind Al Qassimi, Chairwoman of Board of Directors of Emirates Businesswomen Council and H.E. Sultan Abdullah Sultan, Secretary General of the FCCI. Also present were Saeed Obaid Al Jarwan, Second Deputy Chairman, SCCI and Hussein Mohammed Al Mahmoudi, Director General, SCCI, representatives from FCCI and the UAE Ministry of Foreign Trade, heads of government departments and directors from various companies and economic enterprises in Sharjah.

The meeting aimed at developing and reinforcing economic relations between Sharjah’s business sector and COMESA countries. Another objective of the event was to introduce the services and facilities being offered by the SCCI to the private sector and the strategic opportunities currently available in Sharjah and the rest of the UAE. The dialogue between the two parties also concentrated on strategies and programs to be implemented to help reach a more fluid movement of capitals, workforces, commodities and services that can help increase trade volumes between the two parties. The new partnership complements SCCI’s strategic thrust to aid the development of Sharjah’s business sector and attract more foreign investment opportunities into the area.

Saeed Obaid Al Jarwan, Second Deputy Chairman, SCCI, said, "Today’s meeting reflects SCCI’s commitment to achieve mutual goals with its partners while remaining steadfast in its efforts to create more investment opportunities for Sharjah’s business sector. Our new partnership with COMESA marks the start of our joint efforts to revitalize and reinforce business and economic relations that can only lead to further economic development between the two parties. Moreover, the UAE maintains a strategic position in today’s global market and has managed to achieve this by building solid strategic ties with neighboring countries. The SCCI reaffirms its commitment to provide the necessary framework, assistance and services needed to help strengthen the economic ties between the local private sector and their counterparts from COMESA—achieving growth for both the present and in the long term."

During the meeting, Hussein Mohammad Al Mahmoudi made a presentation that featured the cultural, economic, social, and educational developments witnessed by the emirate over the past three decades. The presentation also focused on Sharjah’s advanced infrastructure like seaports, airports and the facilities, services, utilities and logistic support offered by its free zones. The presentation also featured data and statistics of Sharjah’s economic performance in the past years and the volume of trade exchange with many countries connected with firm economic bonds with the emirate. In response to the presentation, the Regional Investment Authority (RIA) of COMESA gave a detailed brief on the current investment opportunities available in the COMESA member countries. The brief also concentrated on vital sectors in South and East African countries that are most likely to attract foreign investment opportunities over the next few months.

"This meeting allows businessmen from Sharjah and the rest of the UAE an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the investment environment and available opportunities and resources offered by COMESA countries. The SCCI seeks to strengthen investments and economic partnerships with COMESA countries--looking towards business opportunities in industries like transportation, telecommunication, agriculture and construction. COMESA countries enjoy a strategic location and are blessed with natural resources that provide self-sufficiency in many economic sectors. Furthermore, the SCCI remains steadfast in its commitment to reinforce communication and establish effective relations with its partners; thereby creating sustainable economic development and stronger beneficial partnerships. This strategic partnership does not only seek to create investment opportunities between the two parties but also create a venue where the transfer of knowledge and ideas can also be facilitated.”

Welshman Ncube, Minister of Industry and Commerce, Zimbabwe, said, "The African continent is known for its large population, which makes up 14 per cent of the world’s total population. This is the very same reason that makes African countries an active consumer market, being further described as emerging economies that are expected to reach excellent growth in various industries in the near future. In line with this, COMESA aims at establishing long-term partnerships with developed areas like the UAE, Sharjah in particular, and the whole GCC region. Our vision is to spur economic development in Africa while simultaneously creating similar growth and development opportunities to our partner countries."

The meeting with COMESA is a result of Director General Al Mahmoudi’s recent participation in the COMESA Investment Forum held on December 15, 2009 in Manama, Bahrain. The event, which was participated in by ministers of trade and industries and other high ranking officials from both the GCC and COMESA countries, discussed strategies and plans to help strengthen the mutual trade and economic cooperation between the two regions.

At the end of the meeting the African economic delegation took a tour of the permanent exhibition area for local industrial products. The delegation also commended the unique position held by Sharjah on the industrial and economic levels, underlining the commitment of the COMESA countries to cooperate with Sharjah and the UAE to ensure that products manufactured here can easily tap the potential of the African markets.

Through its pioneering initiatives, SCCI aims to develop the business sector and enhance the role of members in contributing to economic progress by pursuing mutual agreements and organising forums, meetings and exhibitions in cooperation with trade delegations from around the world. SCCI also plans to develop Sharjah’s business potential by identifying new investment opportunities and facilitating communication between the economic enterprises in the emirate and the local, regional and international trade community.

COMESA, which comprises Egypt, Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Libya, Madagascar, Seychelles, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Rwanda, Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Comoros, together share vast resources and potential that have proven invaluable to the economic development of member countries. The collective trade exchange volume for these countries amounts to USD 13.4 billion annually.

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