United States Trade Representative, Katherine Tai, reiterated her country’s commitment to strengthening the US-Africa trade and investment relationship to deliver real opportunities across the continent.
Tai was delivering remarks during the closing ceremony of the 20th African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) Forum held in Johannesburg.
She told delegates that she would summarise the interactions that had been held over the last three days with the word “commitment”.
“Commitment to strengthen the US-African trade and investment relationship. Commitment to craft a more resilient, sustainable, and inclusive tomorrow across the continent. Commitment to partner with one another to make Agoa stronger and more effective,” she said at the session held on Saturday.
The three-day forum explored the intersection of trade and competition policy and what that means for a fairer economy in Africa and elsewhere. It focused on how small businesses and women-owned enterprises could be equipped and empowered to succeed and thrive.
Agoa is a unilateral trade preference scheme that provides qualifying sub-Saharan African countries with duty-free, quota-free access to the United States market. It remains the cornerstone of the US’s commercial relations with sub-Saharan Africa.
Tai also highlighted the need to make the Agoa programme more relevant to today’s challenges and to explore additional areas of cooperation under the programme.
She said Agoa was the cornerstone of the US’s economic partnership with Africa.
“Let us not forget the real impact Agoa has had on real lives, real people: the woman entrepreneur seeking to expand her macadamia nut processing business; the small business owner making apparel and handicrafts, and the countless students and youth, waiting to make their mark …
“So, when we say that Agoa is the cornerstone of our economic partnership, we do not mean it in the abstract. It has been a bedrock to improve the livelihoods of so many people across Africa and it has the potential to do so much more. But we can make it even better,” she said.
“As we discussed during the session on ‘What’s Next in our US-Africa Trade Relations’, we must also explore additional areas of cooperation and other trade tools to complement our Agoa relationship.
“This includes collaborating on AfCFTA (African Continental Free Trade Area) implementation and better using the multilateral trading system to benefit more people, particularly underserved communities,” she said.