East Africa: Technical officials discuss EAC-US trade and investment partnership in Bujumbura
Technical Officials from the East African Community (EAC) and the United States (U.S.) met 12 to 15 February 2014 in Bujumbura, Burundi to discuss Trade Africa and the EAC - U.S. Trade and Investment Partnership (TIP). In particular, the Technical Officials discussed among others, the Ministerial guidance provided in August 2013; AGOA; Regional Investment Treaty; Trade Facilitation; Trade Capacity Building, and Commercial Dialogue.
Both Parties reviewed a summary of the last EAC - U.S. Trade Ministerial Meeting held on the sidelines of the August 2013 AGOA Forum in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Both Parties also discussed the need to make substantial progress on all areas of Trade Africa and the Trade and Investment Partnership in advance of the first U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, DC on August 5 and 6, 2014.
The US and EAC teams agreed to work as expeditiously as possible to create concrete actions and outcomes in all areas under discussion by the time of the Leaders' Summit.
Both Parties also discussed the Obama Administration's review of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) in advance of its scheduled expiration in September 2015. The U.S. underscored the Obama Administration's commitment to a seamless renewal of AGOA and described the process by which the U.S. Congress would have to develop and pass legislation in order for AGOA to be re-authorized.
The U.S. noted the review offers an opportunity to assess the future of the U.S.-Africa trade and investment relationship from a broad and holistic perspective, to include an assessment of mechanisms to make AGOA trade preferences more effective and identification of complementary, non-tariff focused efforts to support Africa's integration into the global trading system.
The U.S. also noted the economic conditions in Africa are today substantially different from when AGOA was enacted in 2000. Africa's evolving trading regimes with other global partners is also being considered as part of the U.S. AGOA review.
Both Parties also discussed the African countries' recommendations for AGOA renewal that was presented during the 2013 AGOA Forum in Addis Ababa, and the U.S. affirmed these African views are being considered as part of the Administration's comprehensive review. The U.S. and EAC also discussed strategies to increase the volume and number of products exported from EAC Partner States to the U.S. as well as to increase the presence and competitiveness of U.S. businesses in the EAC.
Both Parties continued exploratory discussions on a proposed Regional Investment Treaty, discussed the approach on Trade Facilitation, SPS and TBT, and agreed on a plan for the next steps to be undertaken in March and April 2014.
On Trade Capacity Building, the USAID presented a summary of their current program under the new USAID East Africa Trade and Investment Hub, highlighting four areas of activity: deepening regional integration through support to the EAC Secretariat; promoting regional food security through improved markets and market information; reducing the time and cost of trade across the region; and increasing exports under AGOA through increased linkages between U.S. and African businesses and trade associations.
Both Parties also discussed the recent and planned private sector engagement under the EAC-U.S. Commercial Dialogue.
The EAC noted the need for national and sectoral level private sector engagement under the Commercial Dialogue and the U.S. noted its regionally based Commercial Counselor plans upcoming travels to the EAC Partner States to discuss ways to deepen EAC and U.S. private sector cooperation.
Owora Richard Othieno, Head of Department; Corporate Communications and Public Affairs;
Tel: +255 784 835021; Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Department; EAC Secretariat Arusha, Tanzania