Global Business Forum Africa 2019 concludes with call to bolster UAE-African economic ties

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The Global Business Forum Africa (GBF Africa 2019) in Dubai concluded on November 19th with a call from African and UAE government and business leaders to bolster bilateral economic ties and capitalise on new business opportunities emerging across the continent.
More than 2,500 delegates from 76 countries attended the fifth edition of GBF Africa, including presidents of Liberia and Zimbabwe, the prime ministers of Mozambique and Uganda, as well as ministers, policymakers and prominent businessmen, who shared their insights on Africa’s evolving economic landscape.
A total of 350 bilateral business meetings were held on the sidelines of the two-day forum, marking a 75 percent increase compared to the previous edition. Sessions during the event covered a wide range of key issues and trends impacting African economies, including the shift towards regional integration following the launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), advanced technologies reshaping the government and business spheres and the role of startups and cross-border cooperation in driving the continent’s next phase of growth.
GBF Africa 2019 was organised by Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry under the theme Scale-Up Africa, building on its legacy as the most important event of its kind in the region which aims to nurture and expand UAE-Africa trade links.
Hamad Buamim, President & CEO of Dubai Chamber, said: “The fifth edition of GBF Africa exceeded our expectations and achieved its objectives, while the forum saw a 67 percent increase in attendance compared to the previous edition, reflecting growing confidence in Dubai as a preferred hub for African companies.”
He noted that Dubai Chamber is preparing to host the largest and most comprehensive GBF Africa to date at Expo 2020 Dubai, adding that the next edition of the forum will offer an ideal platform for African businesses to boost their global profile and explore new growth opportunities.
UAE has potential to double exports to Africa: analysis
There is tremendous potential for the UAE to double its exports to African countries with plastics, rubber and sugar identified as the top products offering the most untapped export potential estimated at $867.9 million, $457.9 million and $291.7 million, respectively.
The analysis, based on recent data from the International Trade Center (ITC), relies on an economic model using supply and demand data, along with ease of trade indicators to determine the untapped export potential for a selected exporting country in the chosen target market.
The UAE’s exports to African countries have recorded strong growth over the past decade, supported by a number of key trends and factors such as expanding UAE-Africa trade links, Dubai’s ongoing efforts to enhance its position as a gateway to African markets and improving economic conditions across the continent.
Top UAE exports to Africa
The findings indicate that the UAE’s exports of certain products, such as electrical devices, machinery, and vehicles, have exceeded their export potential to the African continent, which is an indicator of the development of trade links between UAE exporters and African markets. However, it points out that the UAE is still developing its “hub status” for the export of the majority of other products.
Top UAE exports to African markets in 2017 by value were plastics and rubber ($925.3 million) metal products ($407.7 million), other metal products ($267.8 million), sugar ($190.2 million), beauty products and perfumes ($165.7 million), and jewelry and precious metal articles ($161.7 million).
High-potential African markets
The top African markets offering the most untapped potential to import plastics and rubber products from the UAE include: Kenya (estimated untapped potential of $88.2 million), Egypt ($81.3 million), Nigeria ($73.3 million), Tanzania ($ 63.6 million) and Ethiopia ($35.5 million).
Somalia ($91.8 million), Sudan ($66.7 million), Libya ($49.8 million), Djibouti ($35.7 million) and Egypt ($29.3 million) were identified as high-potential African markets where the UAE can boost its exports of sugar.
In the category of metal products, the analysis suggested that UAE exports to Egypt could potentially be increased to $34 million), followed by Ethiopia ($26.6 million), Libya ($24.5 million), Angola ($23.6 million) and Senegal ($10.9 million).