U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit
August 6, 2014
From August 4-6, the leaders of the African world have gathered in Washington, DC to discuss and improve trade relations between the United States and Africa during the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. This is the largest gathering of African World Leaders held by a U.S. President. The goals of the Summit are to express U.S. support for African trade, investment, and security while also focusing on U.S.-Africa economic relations. The official theme of the Summit is “investing in the Next Generation.”
During his speech on August 5th, President Obama laid out “steps” to improve trade between the U.S. and the African nations. He emphasized the importance of continuing, amending, and growing the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). President Obama aims to expand his “Doing Business in Africa” campaign. In support of this pledge, President Obama signed an Executive Order, which created an advisory council for this program to “promote broad-based economic growth and job creation in the United States and Africa by encouraging U.S. companies to trade with and invest in Africa.” During the U.S.-Africa Business Forum, the President declared that an additional $7 billion would be designated to this campaign. This $7 billion, combined with U.S. firms investing $14 billion, and $12 billion from the Power Africa program, brings the total investment to $33 billion, which President Obama states will create more jobs for Americans. The U.S. will also work with the African nations to build further infrastructure. Next, President Obama affirmed that the U.S. would work to increase trade flow between nations within the continent. Finally, he announced that more work still needs to be done to assist young entrepreneurs and leaders in the business world.
The AGOA has been a major topic of discussion at the Summit. The International Trade Commissions describes AGOA as an “Act offer[ing] tangible incentives for African countries to continue their efforts to open their economies and build free markets.” U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman spoke of renewing AGOA and expanding it to include more products, while also altering the program’s structure so more shippers would be eligible for lower tariffs. There is a push to renew the Act and implement changes before the September 2015 renewal deadline. A joint statement from the Summit and the 13th Annual AGOA Forum was released, which highlighted the good work that AGOA has done, while still noting that changes must be made. The members wrote that barriers to trade “prevent sub-Saharan Africa from more fully integrating into global supply chains and inhibit U.S. exports.” The members believe that eliminating “high tariffs, forced localization requirements, restrictions on investment, and customs barriers, among others, will strengthen and improve regional and global integration.”
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker addressed attendees of the U.S- Africa business forum on August 5th. During her speech, she emphasized the reciprocal benefits of trading with Africa, “Make no mistake: our economic and commercial partnership is a two-way street.” Secretary Pritzer stated, “When Africa’s businesses grow, they deploy American expertise, purchase American technologies, and learn from our best practices. This lays the groundwork for sustained, long-term growth- and we all share the benefits.” Additionally, she “announc[ed] 10 new trade missions to Africa and 10 reverse trade missions to the United States by 2020.” Global City Teams Challenge, under the supervision of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, is reviewing “issues like air quality, resource management, health care, delivery, and modern energy grids.” Finally, Secretary Pritzker promoted www.trade.gov/dbia, which allows for United States businesses to access information regarding trade and markets in Africa.
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