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Trade Issues - Africa

Joint Statement on the United States - East African Community Trade and Investment Partnership

June 15, 2012 - United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk; the Honorable Richard Sezibera, the Secretary General of the East African Community; H.E. Victoire Ndikumana, the Burundian Minister of Commerce, Industry, Posts, and Tourism; H.E. Moses Wetang'ula, the Kenyan Minister for Trade; H.E. François Kanimba, the Rwandan Minister of Trade and Industry; H.E. Abdallah Kigoda, the Tanzanian Minister for Industry, Trade, and Marketing; and H.E. Amelia Kyambadde, the Ugandan Minister of Trade and Industry are pleased to release the following joint statement, following a meeting on June 14, 2012 on the sidelines of the AGOA Forum between the United States and the East African Community (EAC) Partner States, in Washington, D.C. "Recognizing the importance of strengthening the economic links between the United States and East Africa, our governments jointly resolve to pursue a new trade and investment partnership between the United States and the East African Community. This new partnership will build on the foundations of our existing trade and investment relationship, including the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), and the U.S.-EAC Trade and Investment
new business opportunities to U.S. and EAC firms by reducing trade barriers, improving the business environment, encouraging open investment regimes, and enhancing our two-way trade."


New Africa Free Trade Zone - Set for 2015

On June 12, 2011 The Heads of State and Government of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the East African Community (EAC) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) officially began negotiations for the establishment of a new Tripartite Free Trade Area. The new free trade area will have an integrated market of 26 nations with a combined population of nearly 600 million people and a total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of approximately US$1.0 trillion. When completed in 2012 the new region will make up half of the African Union (AU) in terms of membership, 58% in terms of its contribution to GDP and 57% of the its total population. The establishment of the new Tripartite Free Trade Area will bolster intra-regional trade by creating a wider market, increase investment flows, enhance competitiveness and cross-regional infrastructure development.

Custom Unions Within Africa

The Organization of African Unity (OAU) was established in 1963 by 32 independent African States to promote their unity and solidarity and to harmonize, among other things, economic policies. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was first formally set up in 1968. A revised treaty was signed by 16 African States in 1993. The principal objective of the Treaty, to be achieved in stages, is the creation of an economic and monetary union. The Heads of State of Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa were mandated by the OAU to develop an integrated economic development plan for Africa. The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) was conceived in July 2001 as a development framework to promote sustainable growth, improved economic, political and corporate governance. The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) began in December 1994 when it was formed to replace the former Preferential Trade Area (PTA) that had existed since 1981. With its 19 member states, population of over 400 million and annual GDP of $360 billion, COMESA forms a major market place for both internal and external trading. Nine of the states are part of a free trade area removing internal trade tariffs and barriers. It is hoped that shortly COMESA will introduce a common external tariff structure and that more of the 19 members will participate. In January 2005, a customs union linking Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda came into force. This is first step towards a common market and will gradually enable goods to pass between the three countries tax-free. The member states hope it will also lead to a common currency and eventually a political federation.

Free Trade Zone

In August 2008, 12 African countries established a free trade zone in an effort to improve regional exchange and economic integration. The countries, all members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), include Botswana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Tanzania, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Other members of the SADC are Angola, Congo & Seychelles have not signed the agreement. The goal of the Free Trade Agreement is to make the SADC an attractive area for doing business. 

The Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry was established in 2009 by 35 founding national business chambers to influence government policy and create a better operating environment for business.

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