US-Africa trade, investment forum sees opportunity

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The United States Mission to the African Union hosted the US-Africa Trade and Investment Forum on the sidelines of the African Union (AU) Summit in Addis Ababa last week.
The high level event, supported private sector engagement in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and worked to drive US-Africa trade, investment, and business engagement.
“The long history of trade ties between the United States and Africa pushed the US to further deepen trade with Africa,” Mary Beth Leonard, US Ambassador to the African Union said.
She added that AfCFTA is a real game changer in how international and US business looks in Africa because it has created significant opportunities.
President and CEO of the Corporate Council on Africa, Florizelle Liser described the motivation to foster a better trade relationship with Africa.
“We have a stake in supporting African regional integration, in creating larger markets and businesses, allowing them to take advantage of economies of scale and drawing Africa into regional and global value chains.”
“There are many positive things happening in Ethiopia and the export of products to the US market is an example to what Africa can do and is doing across the continent,” she added.
The AU Trade and Industry Commissioner, Albert Muchanga said work is underway to develop regional value and supply chains and creating a more stable and predictable policy framework to guide business decisions and strategies on investing and trading in Africa.
He pointed out that work is advancing on liberalization of trade in goods and services as well as establishment of a payment and settlement platform that will give operational content to the agreement coming into force.
“Through the African Continental Free Trade Area, we are offering large economies of scale and scope to the private sector,” he said, adding that the content’s trade liberalization and continental integration gives incentives to invest in larger scale endeavors for a longer time.
The Forum – linked to the AU and the broader African continental and global trade agenda – will complement the AU Summit by engaging the private sector – both in Africa and the US– and will fill an important void.
Currently, the AU runs an African Continental Free Trade Business Forum for African companies. Some forty-nine countries have signed the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, and 18 of the 22 needed to bring it into force have already ratified it.