TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

AGOA : Proposals To Boost Trade

Friday, 25 February 2005

Source: Cameroon Tribune (Yaoundé)

The Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) public-private sector forum, which started in Yaounde last Tuesday, ended yesterday with recommendations on boosting trade between the sub-region and the USA.

In opening the forum, United States ambassador, Niels Marquardt highlighted the expanding commercial ties between the United States and African countries. The recently renewed African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) promotes increased trade between Sub-Saharan African countries and the United States, through duty-free access to the U.S markets for most products. Given the strong agricultural tradition of Africa and the United States, both parties share an interest in continued liberalization in farm trade, at the regional and international level, including the ongoing Doha Round of international trade negotiations.

The forum participants explored ways through which the public and private sectors, in cooperation with regional bodies like CEMAC, can further their international trade objectives by adopting sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures. The measures are recognized as potential limiting factors in trade in agricultural products, both within the region and in the world market. The participants stated that improved communication and cooperation between national regulatory officials and the private agriculture sector is at the centre of creating an appropriate regulatory environment. It also responds to the challenges African products often face in meeting international standards. CEMAC as a regional organization can play an important role in facilitating communication among its members in this area.

In addition to developing national action plans related to trade, sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures, the participants formulated a number of recommendations to CEMAC. Priority areas of action included the harmonization of SPS regulations among the CEMAC members, appropriate training for all traders involved in exports of agricultural products, and the creation of a regional laboratory for SPS testing.

The representative of the CEMAC Executive Secretary, Njiyam Steven, said considering that agriculture is the backbone of economic development in the area and its important role in ensuring food security of the population CEMAC will work with the United States Government (USDA and other agencies) to achieve these goals and other economic development endeavours.