U.S. and African partners to work for deeper commercial engagement
The United States Trade Representative (USTR) on Wednesday affirmed the commitment of his country to Africa and saw "great potential to grow and deepen trade relationship."
Robert E. Lighthizer expressed this in opening speech of the ministerial plenary as part of the 16th Forum of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), on Wednesday here in Togolese capital Lome.
"The United States is committed to Africa. We see great potential to grow and deepen our trade relationship, with the goal of establishing a true partnership for the future", Lighthizer said.
"By lowering barriers and tackling other constraints that impede trade and investment, we are poised to see U.S.-Africa trade flourish", he said, underscoring that "much more work needs to be done" to realize these gains.
Addressing the audience, he urged African partners for deeper commercial engagement as he mentioned changes in Africa and the implementation of reciprocal trade agreements by some African partners with economies that compete with the United States.
"The Africa of today is not the Africa of 17 years ago. We live in a changing world and much has changed in Africa over this period", he said.
As illustration, Lighthizer reported that the United States is importing over one billion dollars in luxury automobiles from Sub-Saharan Africa annually.
"Meanwhile, some AGOA partners are implementing reciprocal trade agreements with major developed economies that compete with the United States," he said.
"So let us focus on ways we can achieve deeper commercial engagement now, while working towards greater reciprocity in the future to ensure that sustained political support for our trade relationship goes forward," he added.
Lighthizer ensured that these issues and opportunities should be discussed further during sessions that are being held in closed-door meetings.
He expressed his confidence on shared successful discussions as follows: "Together, we can create a better business environment and chart a path toward a stronger and more sustainable trade relationship for the future."
The 16th AGOA Forum is themed "The United States and Africa: Partnering for Prosperity through Trade."
Scheduled to close on Thursday, after it kicked off on Tuesday, the meeting was expected to gather over one thousand participants from 38 Sub-Saharan African countries and the United States.
Under the AGOA, eligible Sub-Saharan African countries are offered duty-free access for about 6,500 products to the market of the United States.