TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

East Africa: New US plan to boost business

Friday, 07 December 2012 Published: | The Independent (Uganda)

Source: The Independent (Uganda)

Uganda's business sector is set to get a significant boost, following the launch of the "Doing Business in Africa" campaign, a US initiative aimed at helping American businesses identify and seize opportunities on the African continent. The campaign, which was launched on Nov.30, is an important element of President Barack Obama’s new strategy toward Sub-Saharan Africa, according to Dr. Rebecca Blank, the acting US Secretary of Commerce.

In a briefing from South Africa to journalists across the continent via conference call, Blank, who visited the continent from Nov.26-30, said the effort would leverage the US’s trade promotion, financing and strategic communications capabilities to help American-based businesses identify and seize opportunities in Africa, and to help them overcome any challenges they face to establishing a business relationship in Africa.

“The ‘Doing Business in Africa’ Campaign will be an unprecedented, whole-of-government approach to promote more US trade with Africa, to spur greater trade financing, and to reach out to key groups such as the African diaspora within the US,” she said. “The overarching goal is to dramatically strengthen US commercial, trade, and investment ties with sub-Saharan Africa – a critical part of the President’s Strategy” She added.

“Overall, the ‘Doing Business in Africa’ campaign is about finding new ways for both business and government leaders throughout the US and Africa to form powerful linkages, strong partnerships, that lead us all to greater prosperity.” As part of the programme, the US plans to host a series of Africa Global Business Summits comprising experts who know the best strategies for entering the African market, and to promote trade missions and business interactions from both the US and from Africa.

Additionally, financing will be made available to US companies seeking to do business in Africa, especially in critical growth sectors like renewable energy. In the summits, US ambassadors based in Africa will be put in touch with US enterprises that are interested in investing or expanding their work in Africa to talk about possibilities in Africa as a potential place for investment and trade. Blank suggested that American business leader will be made to appreciate the fact that Africa has a growing middle class, which is increasingly demanding good and higher quality products.

Also as Africa’s wealth increases, so does its demand for improved transportation, telecommunications, housing, energy, consumer goods, financial services, healthcare and more. American companies are poised to bring their entrepreneurial spirit, their expertise, and their know-how, to help meet that demand, according to Blank. She said with Internet and mobile technologies dramatically shifting the way business is done and economic progress is clearly visible on the continent.

“This is our moment to work together to ensure that we both secure Africa’s gains – and build on them. And I believe strongly that one of the ways we can do that is for US businesses to invest in Africa, and to believe – like we all do here – in Africa’s bright future,” she added.

US-EAC pact

Talks with EAC leaders about their Trade and Investment Partnership were also a key item on Blank’s agenda on the continent. During the June 2011 AGOA Forum in Lusaka, Zambia, the US proposed the new partnership with the EAC to include the exploration of a regional investment treaty, creation of trade enhancing agreements in areas such as trade facilitation, and the development of stronger commercial engagement.

This new partnership would build on the foundations of the existing trade and investment relationship, including the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), and the US-EAC Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA). Under this new partnership, the US and regional bloc aim to provide new business opportunities to US and EAC firms by reducing trade barriers, improving the business environment, encouraging open investment regimes, and enhancing two-way trade, which has historically been lopsided. For instance, US trade with Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for less than 3% of US total trade with the world, which officials said necessitated “more work to be done.”

The initial items agreed upon to explore under this new umbrella partnership in the EAC include a regional investment treaty, a trade facilitation agreement, continued trade capacity building assistance, and a commercial dialogue. These agreements and other activities are expected to help to promote EAC regional integration, economic growth, and expand and diversify US-EAC trade. The US hopes to build on AGOA, which Uganda is yet to fully benefit from for various reasons.

Uganda’s export earnings under the initiative amounted to $59m in 2011 and $15m in the first half of 2012. In the EAC, Kenya is getting the lion’s share of the AGOA benefits with the country’s export earnings standing at $480m in 2011. Blank said the US will be working with the EAC – among other things – to establish a regional investment treaty, to provide trade-capacity building assistance, to build a more open and predictable business climate, and “to launch the EAC-US Commercial Dialogue – America’s first Commercial Dialogue in Africa.”



View related news articles

Uganda to work on increasing exports in wake of Covid-19 challenges

Uganda to work on increasing exports in wake of Covid-19 challenges

In the wake of COVID-19 and its devastating effects, Uganda is producing solution-based products onto market. Unlike in the past, Ugandan products have been warmly received by local consumers because of their improved quality, says NRM National Treasurer Namayanja Rose Nsereko. According to her, Ugandan scientists are in final stages of testing COVID-19 vaccines with 90%...

13 December, 2020
Kenya, Ethiopia ahead of region in benefits of AGOA treaty

Kenya, Ethiopia ahead of region in benefits of AGOA treaty

Kenya led the East African Community members in its use of the Africa Growth Opportunity Act (Agoa) treaty, scoring 98 per cent. However, it came second to Ghana which recorded 99.1 per cent with Madagascar coming third at 93.7 per cent. According to data contained in the US Trade and Investment with sub-Saharan Africa: Recent Trends and New Developments report,...

26 May, 2020
Report calls for joint marketing of EAC as investment destination and eradication of NTBs

Report calls for joint marketing of EAC as investment destination and eradication of NTBs

A report of the recently concluded high level conference on trade integration notes that there is a downward trend on the profile of the East African Community (EAC) as an attractive investment destination. The report calls for the EAC Partner States to market EAC jointly, further consolidate free trade by eliminating individual State exemption lists, liberalize and allow...

28 September, 2019
Ugandan exporters sensitized on export requirements to benefit from AGOA

Ugandan exporters sensitized on export requirements to benefit from AGOA

The USAID East Africa Trade and Investment Hub (the Hub) partnered with the Uganda Parliament Speaker’s Office, the AGOA Country Response Office and AGOA Exporters Association, to conduct the Uganda Parliamentary AGOA Sensitization Workshops and Exhibition on May 14 -15  at the Uganda Parliament in Kampala. The Ugandan companies learned about the AGOA export...

16 May, 2019
Uganda parliamentary speaker rallies public to attend local AGOA expo

Uganda parliamentary speaker rallies public to attend local AGOA expo

The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga has highlighted that more needs to be done in creating awareness about the opportunities provided by the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA). AGOA is a United States Trade Act, enacted on 18 May 2000 as Public Law that significantly enhances market access to the U.S for qualifying Sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries. Kadaga...

11 May, 2019
Uganda crafts strategy to maximise potential of its apparel sector

Uganda crafts strategy to maximise potential of its apparel sector

Uganda is crafting a new strategy to revamp its cotton, textiles and apparel sector as part of efforts to tap into the booming global textiles and apparels market. The plans dovetail with similar efforts to refocus the under-exploited opportunity presented by the US-sponsored African Growth Opportunity Act (Agoa) where Uganda's earnings have been modest. Although Agoa...

29 April, 2019
Uganda: Government working on new AGOA strategy

Uganda: Government working on new AGOA strategy

Uganda will, before the end of April, reportedly launch a national strategy that will identify key products that Uganda can leverage on to improve its exports to US.  The strategy, whose formulation started in 2016, seeks to among others, identify five key products that can influence Uganda’s penetration into the US market.  Ms Suzan Muhwezi, the head of...

15 April, 2019
East Africa exports to the US hit $1bn in the year to September 2018

East Africa exports to the US hit $1bn in the year to September 2018

Exports from East African countries to the US reached about $1 billion between October 2017 and September 2018, a 17 per cent increase from the same period the previous year. The United States Agency for International Development’s East Africa Trade and Investment Hub said apparel dominated the region’s sales at 84.4 per cent of exports. The Africa Growth and...

31 December, 2018
'Here's why the used clothing trade deserves more attention'

'Here's why the used clothing trade deserves more attention'

While friction over the ban of used clothing exports from the US to East Africa seems to have come to an end, some fundamental issues still remain, according to Shannon Brady and Sheng Lu from the University of Delaware. Their latest research throws up complex economic, social, legal and political factors linked with the trade in second-hand clothes and questions the...

11 December, 2018
Uganda's plan for more trade under AGOA

Uganda's plan for more trade under AGOA

Uganda is working on a plan to increase its exports to the US through the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) in the next five years. Under Agoa, a US trade legislation enacted in May 2000, sub-Saharan African countries export more than 6,000 different products duty free. The Act originally covered an eight-year period from October 2000 to September 2008, but...

28 November, 2018
Hello, America! USAID, direct flights to increase AGOA exports to US

Hello, America! USAID, direct flights to increase AGOA exports to US

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) Hub will from November 2018 to March 2019 provide direct support in the audit and Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP) certification process. Already, USAID is helping companies in the East African region become more export competitive. WRAP is a minimum standard for social compliance where US textile and...

19 October, 2018