LITTLE ROCK, AR, USA - November 17 – 19, Little Rock, Arkansas was host to an inbound trade delegation from Côte d'Ivoire of the Ivory Coast region. One hundred twenty-five participants attended the event with representation from the United Nations, Ambassadors, Minister of Trade, and Delegate General Côte d'Ivoire Economic Bureau in New York. This emerging country is the gateway to a large West-African market with a population of over 300 million inhabitants. Infrastructure is superior in comparison with a road network of 82,000 kilometers and an international airport. Côte d'Ivoire has the second largest port in Africa and they are the second economic power of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Trading partners can take advantage of the free trade zone. Agri-business was the main focus of the trade mission. Côte d'Ivoire has an all-year growing season that provides exports of cashew, cotton, coffee, cocoa, palm oil, fruits, and rubber.
The delegation is interested in learning new and improved farming technologies and water engineering. The first day of the conference included an objective overview of the trade mission, panel discussion, and breakout B2B sessions. In addition to agri-business, other sectors brought to the table were education, technology, engineering, and non-profit. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the World Trade Center Arkansas (WTC AR) and Economic Promotion Bureau of Côte d'Ivoire stating that the 2 entities will work together in trade intelligence, market research, business introductions, and trade missions.
The WTC AR arranged for agricultural-tours in the central and southeast part of the state. The third day of the conference was a wrap up of future bilateral trade discussion. Plans are being made for a return trade mission to Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, and Tanzania in March 2015. Côte d'Ivoire will be returning in July 2015 to finalize educational exchange agreements. Water4life, a nonprofit organization that provides mobile solar powered clean water filtration, say they “look forward to the next round with their game-changing technology” and are ready for the trip in March.
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