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LDCS >> WORLD BANK IN AFRICAN TRADE AGREEMENT
By: Quentin Wray, Business Day (Johannesburg)

"ATI would help deal with perceptions that Africa was a risky place to do business, which made it difficult to attract trade and investment."

The World Bank and the newly-established African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI) signed two agreements on Friday that will see exporters and importers gain access to quick and automatic political risk insurance for trade transactions.

While there are currently only seven members of ATI, namely Malawi, Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Zambia, Rwanda and Tanzania, membership is open to all members of the Organization of African Unity (OAU).

ATI was formed in February, and has its head office in Nairobi. It is part of the regional trade facilitation project, which aims to improve the terms of trade and access to trade finance for imports and exports by participating African countries.

The World Bank has facilitated the start up of ATI by:

lending it $5-million to cover the institution's start up costs; and granting credit worth a total of $105-million to the seven participating states that will be used to back up insurance policies issued by private companies. This will be placed in offshore trust accounts and will be accessible by private risk insurers to pay valid claims.

At the signing ceremony in Durban, World Bank vice-president Callisto Madavo said the ATI would help deal with perceptions that Africa was a risky place to do business, which made it difficult to attract trade and investment. He said he was hoping that other members of the OAU would join the scheme, adding it would support regional integration and cooperation.

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