By Jackson Okoth
A more favourable trade agreement could be in the pipeline between the East African Community (EAC) member states and the European Union (EU). Not only will Africa export more products duty free into the European market, it will also be required to open up its markets to Europe. This agreement must be signed before October 2014.
While African traders will benefit from access to Europe, this offers competition to the US Government, which already has a trade deal with Africa through the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which expires in 2015.
In order to secure its position in Africa, a US-Africa Heads of State summit is scheduled for 2014. Ahead of this meeting, the US Government will host the 2013 US-Sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum, also known as the AGOA Forum, on August 12-13, 2013, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
“It is still unclear when AGOA will be extended but we believe it could happen as early as 2014 so that no damage is done to economies in Africa that depend on US markets,” said Florizelle Liser, Assistant US Trade Representative for Africa in the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR). She spoke recently from the US embassy in Nairobi during a telephone media briefing to preview AGOA.
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“While EPA will not jeopardise Agoa, all we can say is that competition is good so we ask them to bring it on,” said David Renz, Counsellor for Economic Affairs, US Embassy Nairobi.
The theme of this year’s meeting is “Sustainable Transformation through Trade and Technology.” The event will include a high level dialogue on the future of US-Africa trade and economic cooperation. A ‘Doing business in Africa’ campaign will feature at the AGOA forum in Ethiopia.