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

    Republicans Struggle With Reality of Trump Nomination

    Despite calls for unity by presumptive presidential nominee, analysts see inevitable fragmentation of party ahead of November election and beyond

    Spanish Warrants Point to Russian Govt. Links to Organized Crime

    Links to several Russians, some of them reputedly close Putin associates, backed by ‘very strong evidence,’ Spanish judge says

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    Iraq needs stable, central government to push back against Islamic State, US says, but others warn that Baghdad may not have unified front any time soon

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limitedi
    X
    Katie Arnold
    May 04, 2016 12:31 PM
    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora