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[Source: NUSACC's U.S.-Arab Trade Outlook 2013]
Comoros is an archipelago island nation off Madagascar and Mozambique in the Indian Ocean. It is one of the poorest nations of the Arab world, with half the population living below the international poverty line. Since achieving independence from France in 1975, Comoros has endured 20 attempted and successful coups.
Comoros is the world’s second largest producer of the essence of ylang ylang (used in perfume) and vanilla bean. Main exports include vanilla, cloves, perfume essences and copra. Eighty percent of this majority Sunni population is directly employed in agriculture. While the United States receives a growing percentage of exports from this nation, the U.S. supplies less than one percent of the islands’ total imports.
H.E. Ahmed Abdallah M. Sambi, President of Comoros, has been promoting the island paradise throughout the Arab World as a “family getaway” tourist destination. In 2010, the Qatar National Hotels started construction on a $70 million investment: the Galawa luxury resort in the capital city of Moroni. This is a milestone in Comoros’ $540 million visitor development program.
In July 2010, the Saudi Fund for Development pledged a $50 million concessional loan for assorted infrastructure and development projects. The UAE’s HSS – a maritime transportation company – signed a contract with the Comoros Government to establish inter-island cargo and passenger services. This $386 million project will build an international terminal in the largest city (Moroni), with berths in Grande Comore, Anjouan, and Mohéli. Able to transit large cargo vessels and ferries, this terminal will link Comoros with Africa and the rest of the world.
Previously, only smaller vessels could approach existing quays, and most freight was transshipped on smaller vessels from Mombasa, Kenya or from the island of Reunion. Efforts to make Comoros a regional transshipment hub included awarding a 15-year management contract to UAE’s Gulftainer in 2006. Plans are underway to boost container volume to half a million TEUs by 2012.
Comoros’ telecom service provider is now positioned for increased services and future competition. The East African Submarine Cable System (EASSy) – the first to land in Comoros – has connected the island nation to the outside world with a bandwidth of 1.4 terabytes per second.