The Governors of Arab States at the Islamic Development Bank has held a meeting to discuss the outcomes of the first phase of the Aid for Trade Initiative for Arab States (AFTIAS) and the launch of second phase.
The first phase is currently going through comprehensive and independent evaluation to identify the achieved outcomes and the important lessons learned from implementing the projects approved for this phase. The evaluation results help the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) and its partners design and launch the AFTIAS second phase.
The meeting was held in Tunisia on the sidelines of the 43rd Meeting of the Board of Governors of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group. It was attended by IsDB President Dr. Bandar Hajjar and Ambassador Abdullatif Abdulrahman Obaid, Assistant Secretary-General and Director, Center of the League of Arab States, Tunisia.
AFTIAS was financed initially by the following donors: Kingdom of Saudi Arabia ($3 million), Kuwait ($2 million), Kingdom of Sweden ($1.5 million), Egypt ($500,000million), United Nations Development Program ($1 million), Islamic Development Bank ($1 million), ITFC ($1 million) and Egypt-based Industrial Training Council ($500,000).
Twenty three top-priority projects have been implemented in 19 Arab states, which benefited from the projects. These projects helped support the League of Arab States increase regional trade integration, enhance Arab cross-border linkages by connecting borders of Egypt, Sudan, Jordan and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Projects were implemented to enhance the role of trade-supporting corporations in Algeria, Egypt, Kuwait, Lebanon, Sultanate of Oman and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and develop the sector of dates in Madinah Munawarah.
Projects were implemented to enhance Libya’s export capacity building, design Algeria’s national export strategy, train and hire youth for export in Egypt, improve genetically-modified organisms testing in Iraq in order to facilitate trade and enhance consumer protection, and develop logistics platform to facilitate trade and invest among Morocco, Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa.
H.E Dr. Bandar Hajjar said the initiative was supported by many countries in several regional and international meetings. For example, the Third Arab Economic and Social Development Summit, held January 2013 in Riyadh, called for the swift implementation of the initiative and several decisions were issued calling for the same action. Also, the Islamic Summit, held 2013 in Cairo, called in its closing statement for the implementation of the initiative.
“From the moment we began implementing the initiative’s projects, we noticed its significance for many Arab states that are in dire need of expediting the implementation of vital development projects, which were the result of several Arab summits and had direct impact on Arab inter-state trade. However, the resources of the initiative are not sufficient to meet the increasing needs,” said ITFC CEO Eng. Hani Sonbol.
ITFC looks forward to the second phase and hopes there will be greater level of partnership with all international trade agencies to help Arab states design and implement major development projects that have positive impact on Arab trade. ITFC relies on continuous support of the initiative, which is part of the Global Aid for Trade Initiative endorsed by the World Trade Organization in 2006.