U.S., Europe, Hustle To Sign Trade Deals With Emerging African Economies

U.S., Europe, Hustle To Sign Trade Deals With Emerging African Economies

The Economic Partnership Agreement between Europe and Africa, expected to be signed before October, will shake up the international market. Under the agreement, African member states will benefit from exporting more products — duty and quota free — into Europe. In a reciprocal arrangement, Africa will be required to open up its markets to Europe.

As the agreement will provide African and European traders lucrative benefits, the prospect offers competition to the U.S., which has an existing and flourishing trade deal with Africa through the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, due to expire in 2015.

AGOA was signed into law on May 18, 2000 and offers tangible incentives for African countries to access U.S. markets and remain globally competitive.

The Economic Partnership Agreement will not impact AGOA, according to David Renz, counselor for economic affairs with the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi. Renz spoke to AFK Insider in an interview at the embassy.

“While EPA will not jeopardize AGOA, all we can say is that competition is good and so we ask them to bring it on,” he said.

The U.S. and other world trading blocs are attracted by Africa’s growing middle class and youthful population.

As a means to that end, a U.S.-Africa heads of state summit has been scheduled for 2014. Ahead of the summit, the U.S. government will host the 2013 U.S.–Sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum, known as the AGOA Forum, Aug. 12-13 in Addis Ababa.

“It is still unclear when AGOA will be extended but we believe it could happen as early as 2014 so that no damage is done to economies in Africa that depend on U.S. markets,” said Florizelle Liser, assistant U.S. trade representative for Africa in the office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

Liser spoke during a media briefing via video-link at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi.

The AGOA forum theme is “Sustainable Transformation through Trade and Technology.” It will focus on the future of U.S.-Africa trade and economic cooperation.

During the AGOA forum in Ethiopia, the Doing Business in Africa campaign will address opportunities in Africa and how to provide finance and support to U.S. businesses in Africa.