TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

Africa makes a strong case for continued preferential trade with the US

Saturday, 10 August 2013 Published: | UNECA Press Release

Source: United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (Ethiopia)

Trade relations between the USA and African countries benefiting from the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) come under serious scrutiny at the 12th AGOA Forum that has started in the Ethiopian capital today, to run till Tuesday 13 August.

This year's edition of the annual Forum focuses on Africa's sustainable transformation through trade and technology and will mark a milestone in the Africa-US trade deal initiated in the year 2000 to be terminated on 30 September 2015.

The Forum will review a scenarios report which presents the various scenarios on the future of US-Africa trade relations, with or without AGOA, prepared by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), in collaboration with the Africa Growth Initiative at Brookings Institution.

It categorically concludes that African countries stand to lose hugely should the US abandon the AGOA arrangements in favour of its previous trade regime with African countries known as the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) or should it replace AGOA with an ACP-EU type Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).

While a move in the direction of an EPA could result in large losses in tariff revenue for African countries, an exclusion of middle-income countries that are currently eligible for AGOA or adding other non-African least-developed countries (LDCs) that are currently not AGOA-eligible would result in considerable trade losses and increased competition for Africa, the scenarios report adds.

Besides the case for a continuation of AGOA beyond 2015, African Ministers of trade and experts accompanying them to the Forum will examine, with their American counterparts, a range of other issues that speak to Africa's economic transformation.

Among these are: Inclusive Economic Growth and Sustainable Development Strategies for Africa, the Role of African Women Entrepreneurs for Sustainable Transformation in Trade, Trade Opportunities and Financing for Africa's Sustainable Energy Development, Creating an Enabling Environment for Scaling up Innovative Agriculture Technologies in Africa, Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Africa's ICT Sector and Africa's Regional Integration through Trade Facilitation.

In fact, the Scenarios report prepared for the Forum by ECA and Africa Growth Initiative at Brookings Institution underline the need for deepened regional integration in Africa as a means to maximize the continent's trade gains and mitigating potential losses from competing external trade agreements similar to AGOA.

Issued by: ECA External Communications and Media Relations Section

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