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

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies 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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid