Obama presses for US-Africa trade pact to be renewed

Obama presses for US-Africa trade pact to be renewed
Published: 06 August 2013
WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama is mounting an early push to extend a trade pact with sub-Saharan African countries set to expire in 2015 which is seen a cornerstone of US-African economic relations.

Ahead of a trip to Ethiopia next week, Mike Froman, US trade representative, called for a "seamless renewal" of the African Growth and Opportunity Act, originally crafted under President Bill Clinton in 2000 and then reauthorised by George W Bush.

"We know how important that is to people making investment decisions to know in advance whether they'll still benefit from those preferences," Froman said.

Agoa - as it is known - allows for many African products to be exported to the US free of duties and quotas, and is becoming increasingly important as the US tries to step up its trade relations with the continent in the face of global competition from large emerging markets such as China.

Froman's comments on Monday at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think-tank, follow Obama's own visit to sub-Saharan Africa in June, when he visited Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania with the aim of bolstering trade and economic relations.

The ambassadors to the US of several African countries last week called for Agoa to be renewed for at least 15 years, though it is unclear whether the Obama administration is prepared to grant such a long extension.

They are also asking for the "third party fabric" provisions, which cover textile and apparel exports and have in the past been renewed on a separate time schedule, to also be extended for 15 years.

Last year, political gridlock in Congress prevented the third party fabric provisions of Agoa from being renewed until the 11th hour by Congress, seriously damaging some African producers.
- FT
Tags: Obama,


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