This comes as at a time when the European Union is also locked in intense negotiations with Africa for a reciprocal Economic Partnership Agreement (EPAs) that will open up Africa to European goods and vice versa.
“We are of the view that Africa must engage in regional markets so that they can gain economies of scale and become more competitive on the global stage,” said Michael Froman, US Trade Representative via a conference call at the US embassy, Nairobi. The meeting that started last week, ends today in Ethiopia’s capital city.
Signed in 2000, the AGOA trade deal has created trade and investment opportunities for both the US and Africa. “The review we are doing now will determine how to modify the agreement going forward. We will do a report to US congress which is to carry the process further,” said Froman. Under discussions at Addis Ababa meeting include length of the AGOA extension beyond 2014.
Others are what format the deal should take in terms of product to be included in the list of those benefiting from duty-free access to US markets, scope and coverage.
It is still unclear whether the US will remodel the AGOA deal and make in reciprocal like the EPAs. “There will be significant skepticism if we are to allow only one-way access to the USA market. We are looking at this aspect in the review,” said Froman.
AGOA provides beneficiary countries in sub-Saharan Africa with the liberal access to the US market available to any country or region with which there is no Free Trade Agreement.
It reinforces African reform efforts, provides improved access to US credit and technical expertise.