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Standard Bank Targets Intra-African Trade for Earnings Growth

David Borha - Standard Bank Targets Intra-African Trade for Earnings Growth

This article first appeared on Bloomberg September 5, 2019

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Standard Bank Group Ltd., Africa’s biggest lender, plans to take advantage of the continental free-trade agreement signed earlier this year for future growth, Chief Executive Officer for Africa Sola David-Borha said.

The Johannesburg-based firm, 20% owned by Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd., is increasing revenue by expanding its businesses across the continent, against the backdrop of anemic economic growth in its home market. It’s eyeing a bigger slice of the $147 billion a year of bilateral trade between Africa and China.

“Trade is one of the main drivers of economic activity on the continent,” David-Borha said in an interview Wednesday at the World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town.

African nations this year agreed a free-trade pact that will join more than 50 countries and create a market of more than 1.2 billion people with a combined gross domestic product of $3.4 trillion.

While there may be hurdles that lie ahead in the implementation of the agreement, what the accord aims to achieve is “significant,” David-Borha said.

“There’s a lot of trade that actually goes on informally and part of what we believe we can do is basically try and get that informal trade into the formal sector,” David-Borha said.

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