TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

Civil Society's Voice At US Trade and Economic Cooperation Conference

Tuesday, 21 October 2003

Source: Foundation for Democracy in Africa (Washington, DC

The Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Civil Society Network Secretariat is coordinating Civil Society’s participation in the Third US - Sub-Saharan Africa Economic Trade and Cooperation Forum taking place December 9-10, 2003. To this end, the AGOA Civil Society Session will take place December 8-10, 2003 on the main campus of Howard University in Washington, DC.

This is the second year of The AGOA Civil Society Session, and this year's theme is "The Next Step for Sustaining AGOA's Momentum: A Civil Society Perspective." This session is being organized to ensure that Civil Society Organizations (CSO) have a voice in shaping AGOA III and will focus on

(1) The current relevance of AGOA for both the public and private sectors of Africa and the US;

(2) Empowering CSOs to work with governments and businesses to take maximum advantage of AGOA;

(3) The impact of AGOA on US - Africa trade and

(4) Monitoring and tracking AGOA eligibility and compliance issues. In addition, the forum will provide numerous networking opportunities with key policymakers, CSOs and small business owners.

"The Civil Society Session of the upcoming US - Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum is important - especially in light of the recent developments that took place at the World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting in Cancun, Mexico. The crux of the CSO meeting will be to show everyone in attendance the numerous gains that have been made in US-Africa trade through AGOA. Civil Society’s participation can be used to offset the misunderstandings that took place during the WTO meeting in Cancun, and is important in that it allows for ongoing discussions on how to level the playing field in terms of trade," stated Fred Oladeinde, President, The Foundation for Democracy in Africa.

The AGOA Civil Society Network expects CSOs from all 38 AGOA-eligible countries and the US to assemble for discussions on how trade can be used as a tool to enhance development and improve US - Africa trade relations. The last CSO Session took place in Mauritius and was hosted by the Government of Mauritius. It was attended by a variety of Government Officials, Civil Society representatives and NGOS from the US and a number of nations throughout Africa. At the upcoming December Session, The AGOA Civil Society Network expects to host a number of new and returning CSO representatives along with African and US NGOs, small businesses as well as policymakers.