Corporate Council on Africa and the U.S. Mission to the African Union hosted the U.S.-Africa Trade and Investment Forum on the sidelines of the African Union (AU) Summit in Addis Ababa on February 11-12, 2019. The Forum is designed to be a high-level event geared towards supporting private sector engagement on the AfCFTA and driving greater U.S.-Africa trade, investment, and business engagement.
The Forum – linked to the AU and the broader African continental and global trade agenda – will complement the AU Summit by engaging the private sector – both African and U.S. – and will fill an important void. Currently, the AU runs an African Continental Free Trade Business Forum for African companies, and the EU has held six EU-African Business Forums. Africa is an important economic partner of the United States, yet there is no continent-wide event with American businesses and the AU, despite the leading role that American companies play as major investors in Africa's fastest-growing economies and sectors
The Forum aimed to:
- Provide a platform for a public and private sector dialogue among U.S. and African government officials and private sector leaders
- Expand opportunities for partnerships between businesses from the United States and Africa through meeting facilitation
- Create an avenue for U.S. and African businesses to engage on and support the implementation of the AfCFTA
- Explore the future of U.S.-Africa trade and investment relationship,the final years of AGOA, the implications of the new U.S.-Africa strategy and the potential impact of the proposed free trade agreements (FTAs).
- Support and facilitate CCA members' interests on the continent
Briefing journalists, U.S Ambassador to the African Union, Mary Beth Leonard, recalled the long history of trade ties between the United States and Africa and expressed the desire to further deepen them.
She added that the African Continental Free Trade Agreement has become a reality and is a real game changer for the way that international and U.S business looks this continent by creating more opportunity to both.
President and CEO of Corporate Council on Africa, Florizelle Liser, said on “we have a stake in supporting African regional integration in creating larger market and businesses that allow them to take advantage of economies of scale and to draw Africa into regional and global value chains.”
A lot is happening here in Ethiopia and the export range products to the US market is an example to what Africa can do and is doing across the continent, she added.
AU Trade and Industry Commissioner, Albert Muchanga said work is underway to develop regional value and supply chains as well as creating more stable and predictable policy framework to guide business decision and strategies on investing and trading in Africa.
He pointed out that work is advancing on liberalization of trade in goods and services as well as establishment of a payment and settlement platform that will give operational content to the agreement coming into force.
“Through the African Continental Free Trade Area, we are offering large economies of scale and scope to the private sector,” he said, adding that the content trade liberalization and continental integration gives the incentives to invest in larger scale and longer period.
Some forty-nine countries have signed the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, and 18 of the 22 needed to bring it into force have already ratified it.
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