A Taiwan-Somaliland trade fair aimed at strengthening business links and market opportunities across Africa will be held Nov. 4, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) announced Tuesday.

Isaac Chiu (邱陳煜), the deputy head of MOFA’s Department of International Cooperation and Economic Affairs, said that in addition to the online-offline fair, the Importers and Exporters Association of Taipei and Somaliland Chamber of Commerce would also sign a memorandum of understanding on Nov. 4 to enhance future cooperation.

According to Chiu, the trade fair and deeper economic cooperation can help Taiwanese companies take advantage of upgrades to facilities at Somaliland’s Port of Berbera on the Gulf of Aden.

Some 20,000 ships traverse the waterway each year, and in June the Port of Berbera inaugurated a new container terminal built by Dubai’s DP World that increased capacity to 500,000 twenty-foot equivalent units.

The port and the surrounding area are set for further expansion, including plans for a special economic zone and inland transport links, aimed at providing alternatives to Chinese-invested facilities in neighboring Djibouti.

Since 2012, DP World has been engaged in a series of legal battles alleging breach of contract after Chinese state-owned enterprises secured part ownership of Djibouti’s Port of Doraleh, which is adjacent to a Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy base.

In addition to accessing logistics infrastructure, Taiwanese businesses investing in Somaliland and its neighbors will also be able to take advantage of the reduced tariff regimes promised by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), according to Chiu.

Under AfCFTA’s rules, which were officially rolled out in January, member states are committed to phasing out 90 percent of tariffs within 5-10 years.

Somaliland declared independence in 1991 after a civil war in Somalia. It has offices in about a dozen countries, according to its foreign ministry’s website, but does not have formal diplomatic relations with any other nations.

In February 2020, Taiwan and Somaliland signed an agreement to establish reciprocal representative offices. Taipei opened its office in Somaliland on Aug. 17, while Somaliland opened its office in Taipei on Sept. 9 in the same year.

By Joseph Yeh

Source: Focus Taiwan