US Trade Representative, Katherine Tai leaves AGOA Forum optimistic and hopeful.
By Lehlohonolo Lehana.
United States of America Trade Representative, Katherine Tai, emphasised that African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) remains the cornerstone of the U.S. economic partnership with Africa.
Tai was delivering remarks during the closing ceremony of the 20th African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum held in Johannesburg.
She told delegates that she would summarise the interactions that were held over the last three days with the word "commitment".
"Commitment to strengthen the U.S.-African trade and investment relationship. Commitment to craft a more resilient, sustainable, and inclusive tomorrow across the continent. Commitment to partner with one another to make AGOA stronger and more effective," she said.
The three-day forum explored the intersection of trade and competition policy and what that means for a fairer economy in Africa and elsewhere. It further discussed how small businesses and women-owned enterprises could be equipped and empowered to succeed and thrive.
The Africa Growth and Opportunity Act is a unilateral trade preference scheme that provides qualifying sub-Saharan African countries with duty-free, quota-free access into the United States market. AGOA remains the cornerstone of the USA’s commercial relations with sub-Saharan Africa.
Tai emphasised that AGOA remains the cornerstone of the U.S. economic partnership with Africa.
"Let us not forget the real impact AGOA has had on real lives, real people: the woman entrepreneur seeking to expand her macadamia nut processing business; the small business owner making apparel and handicrafts, and the countless students and youth, waiting to make their mark on this ever-changing continent.
"So, when we say that AGOA is the cornerstone of our economic partnership, we do not mean it in the abstract. It has been a bedrock to improve the livelihoods of so many people across Africa and it has the potential to do so much more. But we can make it even better," she said.
"As we discussed during the session on 'What's Next in our U.S.-Africa Trade Relations', we must also explore additional areas of cooperation and other trade tools to complement our AGOA relationship.
"This includes collaborating on AfCFTA [African Continental Free Trade Area] implementation and better using the multilateral trading system to benefit more people, particularly underserved communities," she said.
The US Ambassador acknowledged that while there is a lot of work ahead, she leaves optimistic and hopeful.