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CEOE holds business meeting to strengthen trade and economic ties between the EU and Africa

Date: 20/12/2023

CEOE has hosted a Business Meeting on the occasion of the High Level Meeting organised by the Government of Spain with the African Union Commission on "Transformative Investments in Africa: driving job-creating initiatives", in the framework of the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

The event was held to strengthen trade and economic ties between the European Union and Africa, with Spain as a link between the two continents.

The meeting, organised in collaboration with ICEX and together with the Ministries of Economy, Trade and Business and Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, brought together more than 200 businessmen and authorities at the headquarters of Spanish companies.

At the opening, the President of CEOE, Antonio Garamendi, showed the willingness of Spanish companies to contribute to "intensifying and strengthening relations between Africa and the EU". In this context, he highlighted the fact that Spanish exports to Africa will already reach 21,125 million euros by 2022, the highest figure in twenty years.

In this effort to promote relations between companies, the President recalled that Africa presents macroeconomic growth trends that arouse great interest within the EU, not only in Spain.

In particular, he highlighted the increase in consumption and the middle class in African countries, and the growing urbanisation process in which the continent is immersed. "All of this is increasing the attractiveness of African economies," he said.

New opportunities

The CEOE President also highlighted the opportunities that are arising with the implementation of the free trade area in Africa. In addition, he highlighted the need to move together with African economies in the double challenge of the 'green' and digital transition.

For her part, the CEO of ICEX, María Peña, agreed on the great "potential" presented by a growing market such as the African market, which, moreover, has economic prospects above the world average.

In this regard, she pointed out that the stock of investments in Africa has doubled between 2007 and 2021, which "gives an idea of the interest that exists on an international level", and stressed the continent's current capacity to be an "important supplier of raw materials and as a space for transforming investments".

For his part, the Commissioner for Trade and Industry of the African Union Commission, Albert M. Muchanga, pointed out that the economic situation in Africa entails "challenges and difficulties, but it is also very promising in terms of opportunities".

Muchanga pointed out that the African economy "will be the second fastest growing economy in 2024, behind Asia, while its population will account for 25% of the world's total in 2050, which gives an idea of the opportunity it represents for Spanish companies".

The continent's potential

The Commissioner also agreed that "it is key to undertake the green transition" and, in this sense, he highlighted the potential of the entire African continent to develop a solar energy sector of great importance, as well as to grow in areas such as clean hydrogen or the supply of electric batteries.

The conference included half a dozen round table discussions on EU-Africa trade agreements, public-private partnerships, agri-food and food safety, and opportunities in the chemical and fertiliser industries, textiles, renewable energies, water treatment, critical minerals, transport infrastructures, connectivity and the automotive industry.

Other issues discussed were related to a new financing model for Africa, experiences of European investors, new institutional approaches to foster investments, regional value chains and, finally, the role of business organisations in Africa.

Source: CEOE

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