Côte d’Ivoire and the UK: A New Economic Partnership

EVENT OVERVIEW 

On 11th February, DMA hosted its first engagement with Côte d'Ivoire since 2018 in partnership with the Côte d'Ivoire Chamber in Great Britain (CICCGB) and the Department for International Trade. Over 250 blue chip companies and SMEs attended the event including the UK’s biggest institutional investors. The event is can be viewed On Demand and on Youtube

Following the signing of the Economic Partnership Agreement between the UK and Côte d’Ivoire in October 2020, the event was be led by senior government officials from President Ouattara’s newly formed Government and featured Hon. Souleymane Diarassouba, Minister of Trade and Industry. 

The UK has more than doubled its credit agency’s appetite for Cote d’Ivoire from £750mn to £2bn in a positive and proactive move which is already supporting significant exports in the energy and healthcare sectors. And, with a country poised to grow by 6% even during COVID-19, the establishment of an All-Party Parliamentary Group on UK-CDI further cements relations between the two countries. 

Opened by the newly appointed Ambassador of Côte d’Ivoire to the United Kingdom  H.E. Mrs Sara Amani, the event outlined the importance of developing win-win partnerships between and highlighted the President's goal to reposition Côte d'Ivoire in an international setting and engage with British trade and investment communities. The opening session also featured Emma Wade-Smith, HMG's Trade Commissioner to Africa, who explained why the UK should be Africa’s business partner of choice and the government's commitment to being long-term partners with Côte d'Ivoire to create and sustain jobs, and build greener, cleaner and more inclusive economies. Her engaging remarks highlighted the UK's leadership in international markets, agricultural technology, manufacturing, legal services and finance and the role of DIT to help drive commercial success. 

Lord Sheikh closed the opening session by announcing the new APPG on Côte d'Ivoire, which he will chair, and will be a significant step in in strengthening ties between the two countries for mutual benefit, to increase political collaboration and mobilise trade and investment, He cited that bilateral trade between the UK and Côte d'Ivoire was £401m in 2019 and that there are many opportunities to add value in-country, develop education links, sustainable agriculture, and green and Islamic finance. 

The theme of green growth and the importance of this in the run up to COP26 in Glasgow this November was also noted in the Keynote address by Ranil Jayawardena MP. As Minister for International Trade, Ranil Jayawardena was the signatory for the Economic Partnership Agreement and he emphasised the importance of removing barriers to trade to make it easier for UK businesses and Ivorian firms and investors to do business with each other, referring to existing joint projects: the building of hospitals, critical infrastructure and the Azito power station. 

The first panel session was chaired by Simon Tonge and took a deep-dive into the opportunities for trade and investment. Dr Ibrahim Diarra from the Ivorian Ministry of Private Sector Investments outlined the governments reforms and ambitious National Development Plans (NDP) to improve the countries economic competitiveness and create an attractive investment climate. Côte d'Ivoire has seen incredible growth rates and is gateway to a market of 350 million consumers. Steve Gray outlined UKEF incredible appetite for Côte d'Ivoire and provided detailed information on how the UK government can support British businesses with a range of short and long term products. This session was closed by Standard Bank Group, who since 2017 have supported key sectors of the Ivorian economy, international and local partners. Joel Toure and Franck Achy-Brou outlined the excellent corporate and investment banking services available to clients and how they can support  in succeeding in this market. 

A short discussion session with Dr Ibrahim Diarra explored the role of the private sector in supporting the NDP to transform the economy in sectors such as agriculture and renewable energy. 

The second session was a conversation between Kady Doumbia Coulibaly, President of Côte d'Ivoire Chamber of Commerce in Great Britain (CICCGB) and Hon. Souleymane Diarassouba, Minister of Trade and Industry. The Minister emphasised the opportunities in agriculture, with the country producing more than 2 million of tonnes a year, as well as being a leader cashew producer and a major export of fruits and vegetables. He invited British businesses to invest and outlined the steps taken by the government to attract the private sector; customs duties and VAT exemptions for local productions; ability to set up a business in less than 24 hours with CEPICI; and the creation of three new industrial zones across the country. The Minister concluded his session with the message to British that industrialisation is the essential pillar of the NDP and it is the government's aim to do all it can to support the private sector. 

‘Having led the Bi-Lateral Chamber of Commerce since 2015, today’s event really marks a new high watermark between our two countries with this massive increase in UKEF’s appetite, in the setting up of the APPG and so many blue chip British companies in attendance today and all of this against the backdrop of the two countries having signed the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). This is a truly historic day’ Kady Doumbia, President, Cote d’Ivoire Chamber of Commerce in Great Britain

Many thanks to all of our speakers, our media partner Oxford Business Group and our sponsor, the Standard Bank Group

 

EVENT PROGRAMME

Master of Ceremonies: Katie McCoshan, Associate, DMA 

12.00 – 12.15: Opening Remarks

H.E. Mrs Sara Amani, Ambassador of Côte d’Ivoire to the United Kingdom 
Emma Wade-Smith, Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner for Africa
Lord Sheikh, Baron Sheikh of Cornhill in the City of London

12:15 -12:20: Keynote Address 

Ranil Jayawardena MP, Minister for International Trade 

12.20 - 12.55: Panel Discussion 1 - Invest in Côte d’Ivoire

Chair: Simon Tonge, Executive Director, DMA
Dr Ibrahim Diarra, Directeur du Cabinet, Ministry of Private Investments Promotion, Côte d’Ivoire
Steve Gray, Country Head for West Africa, UK Export Finance
Joel Toure, Chief Executive and Franck Achy-Brou, Directeur - Head of GM, Stanbic Bank

12.55 – 13.25: Panel Discussion 2 - Trade & Transformation 

Chair: Kady Doumbia Coulibaly, President of Côte d'Ivoire Chamber of Commerce in Great Britain (CICCGB)

Hon. Souleymane Diarassouba, Minister of Trade and Industry

13.25 – 13.30: Closing address (CICCGB)