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2017-12-06 | All chapters

European Business Organisations Unite in Abidjan

The European Business Organisation Worldwide Network and 17 of its members joined global business leaders and European politicians in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

This was the first meeting of the EBO WWN to take place in Africa. This annual regional meeting coincided with the 6th EU-Africa Business Forum and the 5th EU-Africa Summit. Key topics discussed at the Business Forum included access to and scaling up of electrification in Africa, improving job opportunities for the explosive growth of young people entering the labour market, developing the agri-food industry in Africa, and improving access to finance for micro-enterprises.  

The EBO WWN was also honoured to have an entire panel session dedicated to developing European Business Organsiations in Africa. EBO members from Brazil, Vietnam, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Australia, and China shared their experiences on the challenges and opportunities of developing European business organisations in their own country. Their discussions focused on different governance structures, institutional relationship with bilateral chambers, membership development, and general best practises and information sharing. 

Currently, European business organisations exist in 5 continents and 35 countries. Of these, Ethiopia, Ghana, Tanzania, and Ivory Coast  from Africa have already attained EBO WWN accreditation and membership. 

During the panel discussion, EBO WWN Chair Renato Pacheco from EBO Brazil said, “Africa is the present and the future. We look forward to welcoming more EBOs into the network and providing a supportive platform for their respective successes.” 

Adam Dunnett, EBO WWN Vice-Chairman from EBO China spoke on the global camaraderie that the EBO WWN has created thanks to the support of DG Grow. He pointed out that information is increasingly shared widely across EBOs as the trust and interest in the network continues to reach new highs.  As an example of the trans-continental sprit of European chambers, he also noted that the first president of the European Chamber in China was also later the first president of the European Chamber in the Ivory Coast.

Almut Roessner, General Sectary of the EBO WWN said, “In recent years, chambers in Asia have intensified cross-border cooperation by organising joint events, facilitating business missions, arranging staff exchanges, sharing information on legislation and bidding together for projects. This regional approach certainly could be transferred to Africa and help to speed up the development of European Chambers of Commerce and promotion of common topics.”

Former EBO WWN  Chairman Jason Collins from Australia later emphasised the importance of defending access to markets and to promoting open trade at a time when protectionist voices become louder. “Trade has been one of the most effective mechanisms for economic development, and the EU is committed to a trade agenda which seeks to be as fair, transparent and sustainable as possible, unlike many others”.

In separate meeting EBO members also listened to presentations from the Vice President of the World Bank for West Africa,  Yara, a leading  agri-food business, and from the President of the Ivory Coast European Chamber. On European topics, the members discussed European Union Economic Diplomacy and how to apply in their own countries.

Finally, EBO WWN Chairman Pacheco also had the opportunity to meet Federica Mogherini, EU Commission Vice President in charge of EU Foreign Affairs and Security, who closed the 6th EU-Africa business Forum. She reminded that  EU-Africa business needs a “new deal” to have an equal partnership and to foster local business development with European counterparts and the private sector.  

As a result of this trip, the EBO WWN expects about six new Chambers from mainly Africa and Latin America to join the organization thus strengthening the European global chain value, and also strengthening the multilateral approach to supporting its members in all the continents where they may be  present.