The General Assembly of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Business Forum unanimously decided to establish an international arbitration center which is intended to settle business disputes in the IGAD region.
In its fifth general assembly held in Djibouti for two days last week, the Business Forum highlighted the importance of a private mechanisms in solving disputes created in the business circle rather than relying on state mechanisms such as the regular court system.
The assembly stated in its resolution that creation of an international arbitration center in the region may contribute to improving the business environment and make the international business operators and foreign investors feel more confident about doing business in the IGAD region.
Presidents and secretariats of chambers of commerce from Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, Uganda, Sudan, South Sudan and Somalia have agreed Djibouti should host this arbitration center.
The World Bank and the European Union have confirmed in the meeting to financially support the creation of the arbitration center.
The president of Djiboutian Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Youssouf Moussa Dawaleh, told The Reporter that it is very interesting to see IGAD go beyond resolving political differences among member states and decided to smooth the business environment.
The assembly also called on IGAD heads of states to recognize the Business Forum as an important private arm of the regional block essential to accelerate the integration of policies, a step in the economic integration process, which the countries in the sub region are working towards.
Thus, they called upon the heads of state to accept the Business Forum as a statutory organ of the IGAD. To realize this, the general assembly created a committee of representatives from each chamber with a task of making the business forum gain recognition. The committee is expected make this happen before 2016.
Therefore, secretary generals of all chambers: from Ethiopia, Djibouti, Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda and the secretary general of IGAD are selected to be members of the committee. While the Pan African chamber of commerce is appointed to be an observer.
The committee will meet within one month for a working session and once every three months after that, according to the resolution passed at the general assembly.
The business forum was launched in 2010 with a role of facilitating regional integration and creation of a free trade area. The forum is an apex body of the national chambers of commerce and industries in the IGAD member states. The mission of the forum is to bring the voice of the private sector in to the regional integration agenda.