TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

USTR describes AGOA Forum as 'productive'

Monday, 13 June 2011

Source: Zambia Daily Mail

United States trade representative Ron Kirk has described the just-ended African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) forum held in Lusaka as one of the most productive forums ever held in the recent past.

Speaking at a media briefing in Lusaka yesterday, Mr Kirk said the US government is looking forward to a strong continued partnership with all AGOA partners and hope to see the expansion of trade experienced in the past ten years.

He said much progress has been made in expanding Africa’s exports not only to America, but also other markets in the region and the European Union.

Mr Kirk said the US is however saddened that AGOA is limited to the export of oil, despite over 6,000 products being eligible under the initiative.

He said there is a huge opportunity for many AGOA partners to address poverty and stimulate wealth through job creation.

He also called on African States to diversify their exports under AGOA beyond petroleum and textiles.

“We have had fruitful discussions with the 37 member partners about diversifying their exports…We believe that providing duty free access isn’t enough to help some countries become competitive but it is important to build capacity in trade,” he said.

Mr Kirk said to build on the success of the regional trade hub in Africa and address supply side constraints, the US government has provided US$120 million under the programme dubbed “African competiveness in trade expansion initiative” over the four-year period.

He said President Obama believes that Africa has not only the potential but the resources to determine its destiny in the world economy.

He said African has huge potential to address poverty and stimulate exports under the AGOA initiative.

“Africa has everything it needs to meet the challenges to unleash the potential. African people cannot eat potential, Africa should feed itself and the whole world,” he said.

Mr Kirk said Africa has made progress under AGOA but could still do much better in boosting trade exports.

Meanwhile, African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) member states have urged the United States to relax its restrictive rules of origin to promote diversification of exports into the its market and support regional integration through value chains.

The 37 eligible countries have also agreed on the offer by Ethiopia to host the next AGOA Forum in 2013 and Cameroon in 2015.

Commerce, Trade and Industry permanent secretary Buleti Nsemukila said this when he read the communiqué of the AGOA Ministerial Consultative Group meeting held during the 10th forum.

Dr Nsemukila said members also agreed not to support the graduation of some countries out of the initiative because that would lead to fragmentation, which would be detrimental to Africa’s regional integration.

Other recommendations were to urge the US to expand the AGOA products list to further help diversify non-oil exports.

The countries also agreed to urge the US to prioritise capacity building, especially in infrastructure development, sanitary and phytosantary laboratories.

Dr Nsemukila said the member states welcomed the message from President Banda which dwelt on the US intention to extend the AGOA preference beyond 2015 to 2025.

“We also welcomed the message from His Excellency, President Barack Obama, in which he made a commitment towards the extension of the Third Country Fabric Provision beyond 2012,” he said.

He said member states also recommended the importance of joint monitoring and evaluation mechanisms for AGOA between the US and Africa and proposal for the next African country to host the AGOA Forum.

He said countries also noted many benefits that African countries have derived from the AGOA initiative, including increased trade with the US, diversification of exports to the US, job creation, new investments and the enhanced role of African women in trade with the US.

Other benefits cited are improvements in the engagement of the private sector and the civil society in general in the US-Africa trade relations.




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