Eight West African countries and the United States have signed a new trade agreement in Washington. The deal expands already existing trade and investment opportunities across the Atlantic.
U-S Trade Representative Jon Huntsman, Junior, has signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement with the West African Economic and Monetary Union, WAEMU (WAA-moo).
The union includes eight French-speaking countries – Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo.
Ambassador Huntsman said (Wednesday) the agreement, or TIFA (TEE-fuh), marks the beginning of an important new chapter in trade relations between the United States and the WAEMU countries.
He says, "By establishing a formal mechanism for regular consultations and work on trade and investment matters, our TIFA will help to expand economic engagement between the WAEMU countries and the United States on regional and multilateral trade issues, enhance the commercial potential and dynamism of West Africa, and fulfill the promise of the African Growth and Opportunity Act in the region."
The African Growth and Opportunity Act of 2000 is the basis for U-S involvement in expanding trade and investment on the continent.
Ambassador Huntsman says the U-S Trade Representative office will host a meeting of West African countries in Washington in June to launch some of the provisions of the new agreement. In July, he says he will lead a delegation in Senegal to further advance the deal.