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

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

US Border Patrol Union Accused of Taking Sides on Immigration

Report alleges agents leaking info to immigration opponents, appearing at their private events; Center for Immigration Studies director defends agents' actions More

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Reporting from Somali capital for past decade, Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal has been working at one of Mogadishu's leading radio stations covering parliament More

Video Rights Monitor: Hate Groups' Use of Internet to Inflame, Recruit Growing

Wiesenthal Center's Abraham Cooper says extremists have become skilled at celebrating violence, ideology on Web 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.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs