On October 10th 2012 the Austro-Arab Chamber of Commerce (AACC) had its annual highlight with its “Event of the Year”, the 6th Arab-Austrian Economic Forum. This Forum was held in Vienna at the Hotel Hilton Vienna City and was visited by approximately over 500 people concerned with and interested in Arab-Austrian economic relations in general and in meeting leading personalities from both, the Republic of Austria and the Republic of the Sudan, in particular.
This year's Forum was under the banner of “Sudan & Europe: Prospects of Cooperation for Regional Peace and Development”. The Forum’s speakers came from both, Austria and Sudan and included several top-level personalities, among many others H.E. Dr. Michael SPINDELEGGER, Vice-Chancellor and Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Republic of Austria, and H.E. Mr. Ali Ahmed KARTI, Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Republic of the Sudan. Several Arab Ambassadors accredited to Austria, businesspeople from Sudan and Austria and numerous interested persons also participated in this event.
The 6th Arab-Austrian Economic Forum with its particular focus on Sudan and Europe was organized by the AACC in fruitful cooperation with other institutions and partners: first and foremost the Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan in Austria, the Political Academy of Austrian People's Party (PolAk), the Austrian Institute for European and Security Policy (AIES), the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber (WKO), UNIDO, UNDP and the Austrian- South Sudan Society and the Austrian Sudan Society.
The Opening Session of the 6th Arab-Austrian Economic Forum was chaired by Dr. Werner FASSLABEND, President of the Political Academy of Austrian People's Party (PolAk), who also gave the opening remarks. After that H.E. Dr. Michael SPINDELEGGER, Vice-Chancellor and Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Republic of Austria, and H.E. Mr. Ali Ahmed KARTI, Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Republic of the Sudan, gave their introductory notes and welcomed the interested audience. Other speakers during the opening session were: H.E. Hon. Prof. Elias Nyamlell WAKOSON, Deputy Minister for International Cooperation in South Sudan, H.E. Mr. Petar STOYANOV, Former President of the Republic of Bulgaria and President of the Centre of Global Dialogue, H.E. Mr. Jan FIGEL, Deputy Speaker of the National Council in the Republic of Slovakia and Former EU-Commissioner and Deputy Prime Minister, H.E. Ambassador Tomas ULICNY, Head of European Union Mission to Sudan, and H.E. Ambassador Samir HOSNI, Representative of the Secretary General of the League of Arab States.
After the opening addresses of the esteemed speakers of the Opening Session, Dr. Richard SCHENZ, President of the Austro-Arab Chamber of Commerce (AACC) and Vice President of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber (WKO), and Mr. Yousif Ahmed YOUSIF, Chairman of the Union Chambers of Commerce in Sudan, signed a Memorandum of Understanding.
The First Session of the 6th Arab-Austrian Economic Forum was dedicated to issues of “Economy” and chaired by AACC President Dr. Richard SCHENZ, who also gave the opening notes. The introductory notes to this session were given by H.E. Dr. Mustafa Osman ISMAIL, Minister of the Supreme Council of Investment in the Sudan. Dr. Abdel-Rahim HAMDI, Former Minister of Finance in the Republic of the Sudan, followed him by presenting opportunities of investment in Sudan. Mr. Fahad Rashid AL IBRAHIM, Director General of the Arab Investment & Export Credit Guarantee Corporation (DHAMAN) also talked about the Arab investment in Sudan. Another high-level participant and speaker of this first session was H.E. Mr. Magdy Hassan YASSIN, State Minister of Finance in the Republic of the Sudan, who presented the Sudanese Economic Framework. Other important speakers to the economic session were: Mrs. Olga ALGARYEROVA, Advisor to the Prime Minister of Slovakia, and Dr. Kurt ALTMANN, Austrian Commercial Councillor for Egypt and Sudan, Ethiopia, South-Sudan, Djibouti, Eritrea and Somalia, who discussed the potential for economic cooperation with Sudan. Two other discussants were: Dr. Jan KAVAN, Former Deputy Prime Minister and Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, and Mr. Mohamed BIN YOUSSEF, Director General of the Arab Industrial Development and Mining Organisation (AIDMO).
After the delicious lunch buffet the Second Session of the 6th Arab-Austrian Economic Forum was held on the issue of “European and International Cooperation: Successful Foreign Investments in Sudan”. The introductory notes were given by Mr. Henry HAFEZ, Vice President of the Austro-Arab Chamber of Commerce. After the introduction Mr. Sayed AGHA, Country Representative of the UNDP-Sudan gave some interesting insights on UNDP projects and future cooperation with Sudan. Mr. El Zubair Ahmed EL HASSAN, Chairman of the Kenana Sugar Company and Former Minister of Finance and Economy in the Republic of the Sudan, stressed in
his speech on the potential of the agricultural sector in Sudan. He was followed by Dr. Abdulrahman AL-KHIDIR, Governor of the State of Khartoum, who talked about investments in the State of Khartoum. After him, Mr. Taizo NISHIKAWA, Deputy Director General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), discussed UNIDO projects and future cooperation with Sudan. The discussants in the second session were: Dr. Taj El-Sir MUSTAFA, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Gum Arabic Board (GAB), Mr. Ahmad KHALIFA, Member of the Board of Al-Rajhi International for Investment in Saudi Arabia, Mrs. Eng. Widad YAGOUB from the Sudanese Businessmen & Employers Federation and Dr. Emmanuel CAULLIER, an international expert from France.
After a short coffee break it was time for the Third Session which dealt with “Banking & Financing” and was chaired by Dr. Stefan PISTAUER, Regional Manager for Africa and Middle East at the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber (WKO). The introductory notes of the last session were given by Mr. Badr Eddin MAHMOUD, Deputy Governor of the Bank of Sudan. Then Mr. Kamal EL ZUBAIR from the Al Mal United (Kuwaiti Bank in Sudan) spoke about banking, financing and guarantees in Sudan in general terms. After him, Mr. Khaled HILAL, Representative of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) discussed Islamic Development Bank projects in Sudan. He was followed by Eng. Erwin MARCHHART, Deputy Head of Department of Export Guarantees of the Österreichische Kontrollbank (OeKB), who informed the audience about loans and guarantees. Another important speaker of the third session was Mr. Khalid AL-ZAYER, Senior Public Sector Operations Officer of the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID), who talked about OFID projects in Sudan. Likewise, H.E. Mr. Magdy Hassan YASSIN, State Minister of Finance in the Republic of the Sudan, gave some additional remarks on banking and financing issues in Sudan. Further discussants were: Mr. Fadi AL FAQIH, CEO of Bank of Khartoum, Mr. Musaddaq Taha AL-MALIK from the Qatar National Bank, Mr. Majid Shamas TOMA from the Czech Export Bank and Mr. Ahmed Amin ABDULLATIF from the Sudanese Youth Businessmen.
The Forum was closed with final remarks by Eng. Mouddar KHOUJA, Secretary General of the Austro-Arab Chamber of Commerce (AACC), the Chairman’s Summary by Dr. Werner FASSLABEND, President of the Political Academy of Austrian People's Party (PolAk) and the closing statements by Dr. Arnold KAMMEL, Secretary General of the Austrian Institute for European and Security Policy (AIES).
Parallel to the Forum an Exhibition comprised of approx. 20 Austrian and Sudanese exhibitors was convened throughout the day. Companies and institutions such as the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber (WKO), Dr. Max Huber Realbüro, Emirates Airlines, Lights of Vienna and Austrian State Printing House (OeSD Group), Judith Hornok from Hornok & Partners, were among the Austrian exhibitors, together with a considerable display of Sudanese companies and institutions such as the Ministry of Petroleum, Kenana Sugar Co., GIAD Co, and many others.
The Austro-Arab Chamber’s Executive Committee – represented by its President Dr. Richard SCHENZ, Vice-President Kommerzialrat Nabil R. KUZBARI, Vice-President Mr. Henry HAFEZ and Secretary General Eng. Mouddar KHOUJA – were present throughout the whole Forum and enjoyed the remarkable interest and positive feedback both to the Forum and the integrated Exhibition for Austrian and Sudanese exhibitors.
The next day, Thursday the 11th October 2012 featured an exclusive Round Table Discussion on the challenges and opportunities of financing investments and business cooperation and trade in Sudan. The round table was held at the headquarters of the Raiffeisen Bank International, whose Director General is Dr. Herbert STEPIC, the AACC's Honorary President for Life. The welcoming address was given by Dr. Gerhard BERGER, Director for Institutional Clients and Financial Institutions & Sovereigns for Africa and the Middle East. Dr. Werner FASSLABEND was chairing the Round Table, which was opened by H.E. Mr. Ali Ahmed KARTI and H.E. Dr. Mustafa Osman ISMAIL with introductory notes. The discussion saw a participation of more than 85 experts from different Austrian and Sudanese institutions and companies, among others: State Minister of Finance in the Republic of the Sudan, Deputy Governor of the Bank of Sudan, Austrian Ministry of Finance, Österreichische Kontrollbank, Arab Investment & Export Credit Guarantee Corporation (DHAMAN), and many more.
In the afternoon, more than 30 Austrian and Sudanese companies and businessmen seized the additional opportunity for personal meetings and specific inquiries and network exchange at the Business-to-Business Meeting convened at the Hilton Vienna City.
The 6th Arab-Austrian Economic Forum, the Round Table and the B2B Meeting were all featured and supported by the following media partners: MONITOR TV, Promoters Sudan, Bridges and Milestones in Communication.