By Ntokozo Nkambule
Business Eswatini, the International Trade Centre, and the COMESA Business Council have wrapped up a three-day workshop whereby they capacitated the Eswatini business community on how to utilize the African Trade Observatory (ATO) online portal.
The ATO, an operational instrument of the AfCFTA, is a digital portal that empowers firms to identify and compare markets for their products and access detailed market access information to help them enter new markets.
The portal further aids businesses to derive integrated and reliable trade intelligence on trends, opportunities, and market access conditions for the identification of promising opportunities across the continent.
The information available on the portal includes intra-African trade flows (traded values, traded quantities, use of tariff preferences, taxes, and fees paid at the border), and information on market conditions (such as taxes applicable at the border and regulatory requirements).
BE notes that the training was initially targeted at businesses that are currently exporting and those that are ready to export, which is a cohort of medium and big businesses according to the local MSME policy.
However, it was further extended to include emaSwati youth and SMEs occupying a visible and impactful role in the economy. The extension included the Youth Chamber of Eswatini, selected SMEs in various industries, and women-led businesses.
The digital portal will help smaller businesses gain market insights on which markets to explore and the products they could potentially venture into.
“Current exporters from medium enterprises will obtain market insights on the diversification possibilities of both their markets and products within the African region and beyond,” notes BE.
In his closing remarks BE, Chief Executive Officer, Nathi Dlamini urged all businesses that attended the workshop to utilize the online portal.
“As BE, we would like to encourage all businesses that are present here to use this tool to inform their export strategy as the information is available. Also, as BE we stand ready to provide assistance to businesses who would wish to further explore this tool,” he noted.