6th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center

The African Union & the United States: Forging Trade and Investment Partnerships for Agenda 2063

Webcast available

Webcast Recap

On April 14, 2015 the Wilson Center hosted a two-part discussion on trade and investment partnerships between the United States and Africa. The conversation centered on the renewal of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) within the context of the African Union's Agenda 2063. During Session I, Dr. Dominique Njinkeu, Trade Facilitation Facility Program Coordinator at the World Bank, and Mr. Stephen Lande, President of Manchester Trade Ltd., discussed current trade partnerships between the United States and Africa. Session II featured presentations by Congressman Edward Royce, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Relations, and H.E. Dr. Nkozasana Dlamini-Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, who spoke in more detail about AGO and Agenda 2063.

Dr. Dominique Njinkeu focused on the short term priorities for Africa, with Agenda 2063 in mind. He discussed the importance of recognizing the building blocks for an integrated economic community that are already in place and ensuring that continental free trade will be effective through proper liberalization of regional economic communities' trade regions and through the mobilization of the domestic and international private sector around the trade agenda. Dr. Njinkeu also emphasized that boosting intra-Africa trade is a top priority for the continent.

According to Mr. Stephen Lande, renewing AGOA is only the beginning of the process for enhancing trade relations between the U.S. and Africa. AGOA is the key to laying the foundation in Africa for a mega trade agreement with the U.S. in ten to fifteen years. Beyond AGOA, Africa must participate in global value chains and manufacturing. Mr. Lande stressed the importance of economic integration in Africa and ensuring that agreements between the European Union and individual African countries do not hinder this process. Mr. Lande believes the Economic Community for West African States (ECOWAS) provides the best economic model for regional bodies and should be copied, because it allows for a common external tariff and free trade agreement, which precludes the need for origin rules.

Congressman Edward Royce presented on the key changes proposed for the AGOA renewal.* The AGOA renewal will include language aimed at increasing the ability of African countries to export to the U.S. through trade capacity building and trade facilitation to help remove red tape. Policymakers are also considering requiring each AGOA country to develop its own strategy for policy reform and actions to support businesses to help them access U.S. markets. Another priority is modernizing AGOA by putting trade hubs online so that all companies will have access to the information they need about U.S. markets. Congressman Royce also wants AGOA to be extended for a longer period of time in order to give businesses the certainty they need for long term planning. He also expressed his disappointment that Electrify Africa did not make it onto the Senate calendar last year, as access to reliable, affordable electricity is crucial to increasing manufacturing in Africa.

H.E. Dr. Nkozasana Dlamini-Zuma concluded the event with a discussion of Agenda 2063, which was drafted with significant input from African citizens in all sectors. The African people placed priority on creating an integrated and united continent; investing in human resources through education, healthcare, and vocational training; improving agriculture for food security; securing land rights and access to finance for women; and developing infrastructure such as water and sanitation. H.E. Dr. Dlamini-Zuma emphasized the importance of manufacturing in order to increase intra-African and global trade, as well as the need to strengthen institutions and good governance. H.E. Dr. Dlamini-Zuma also touched on the vital role of young people in Africa's development and the empowerment of women, which is integrated into Agenda 2063.

*The African Growth Opportunities Act was renewed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama on June 29, 2015.

 

Speakers