News / Africa

US Hosts Ninth AGOA Forum This Week

U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Ron Kirk says U.S.-Africa trade has more than doubled during the first decade of AGOA

U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Kirk
U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Kirk

Multimedia

Audio
  • US Trade Representative Ambassador Kirk spoke with Butty

  • Deputy chairman of AU Commission Mwencha spoke with Butty

TEXT SIZE - +
James Butty

The U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Ron Kirk has said the United States is committed to partnering with Africa to address the challenges of poverty, health, education, conflict, governance, and economic development.

Ambassador Kirk’s comments come as the United States this week hosts the ninth U.S.-Sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum, also known as the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum.

Ambassador Kirk said the first decade of AGOA has transformed U.S.-Sub-Saharan Africa relationship.

“I think the most important achievement to date has been the transformation of relationship between the United States and Sub-Saharan Africa from one that I think many Africans were uncomfortable with, the notion of a paternalistic aid-based relationship to one that is based on a true partnership and common goals to build a more stable economic and investment environment in Africa,” he said.

US Hosts Ninth AGOA Forum This Week
US Hosts Ninth AGOA Forum This Week

Enacted into law in 2000, AGOA is the U.S. government’s trade preference program for Africa.

Ambassador Kirk said trade between the United States and Africa has more than doubled during the first decade of AGOA.

“I think AGOA has been a success by any measure. Two-way trade between the U.S. and Africa usually ranges between $64 and $70 billion a year. Exports from Africa to the United States have, in some cases, quadrupled, and our U.S. exports to Africa have doubled,” Kirk said.

Some hope that this week’s ninth AGOA Forum would be used to transform AGOA to include more countries and products.

The Deputy Chairman of the African Union Commission, Erastus Mwencha, said, while AGOA over the last 10 years has led to increased trade between Africa and the United States, it has yet to achieve its full potential.

African Union Flag
African Union Flag

“All said and done, we all recognize that AGOA is still short of its potential, and that’s primarily why we are here to look at those aspects that have hindered AGOA from achieving its full potential,” he said.

Mwencha said AGOA has not attracted enough U.S. investors in Africa, and he believes that this is due, in part, to the lack of knowledge in the United States of the investment opportunities in Africa.

“Promoting and raising the profile of African opportunities in the U.S., but also removing perceptions that are there that Africa is always seen, especially in the eyes of the media, as a continent of war, famine, or disasters. The second aspect, of course, is the cost of doing business,” Mwencha said.

Ambassador acknowledged that petroleum products continue to account for the largest portion of U.S. imports from AGOA countries in Africa.

He said the delegates to this year’s AGOA Forum will discuss ways to build on AGOA’s successes and how to make it more effective.

“I think all of us will acknowledge that the trade between our two continents is still fairly modest and dominated by petroleum and raw materials. So, for this next decade, we will very much like to see more diversification of products exported to the United States from Africa,” he said.

Ambassador Kirk said the United States would also like to see a rapid expansion of regional trade agreements to make Africa stronger through trade with one another.

The African Union Commissioner for Economic Affairs, Maxwell Mkwezalamba, was quoted as saying during the just concluded A.U. summit in Kampala, Uganda that African countries should look more toward China for their development because conditions by Western donor nations and the IMF often stall the flow of funds to Africa.

Ambassador Kirk said the United States has no intention of dictating to African countries who to trade with.

“Part of our rationale for being, in terms of aid or trade to Africa, is not just for the benefit of U.S. investors, but it is to help Africa become more competitive in an increasingly global environment. But, the United States will never, with any of our preference partners or trade partners, compromise on some basic fundamental rights,” he said.

He cautioned against making short-term economic gains that ignore the protection of the basic rights of the people.

“We believe that we have demonstrated to the world that an economic and a governance model that is rooted in democracy, rooted in freedom, particularly for businesses, innovate and grow their business, is the best to truly a long-term economy,” Ambassador Kirk said.

You May Like

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid