ADDIS ABEBA – The U.S. and Africa have different views on their future trade relationship when a preferential access deal expires in 2025, according to media reports.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Tibor Nagy, in an interview with Bloomberg News, said his country favors bilateral trade agreements with African nations.
A day later, African Union Trade and Industry Commissioner Albert Muchanga said the African Union favors a free-trade agreement with the U.S. to replace the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
“To replace AGOA, we would like to see an agreement between the whole of Africa and the U.S.,” Muchanga said in another interview with Bloomberg at the forum in Abidjan, the commercial capital of Ivory Coast.
Africa should negotiate with “one voice” for a new trade pact after 2025, he added.
The continent-wide trade agreement, that’s being driven by the AU, aims to create the world’s largest free-trade zone. It officially came into force in May and should be fully in operation by 2030.
The U.S. and AU signed a joint statement on Monday at the AGOA Forum in Abidjan, saying they share a goal to enhance the AU’s effort to increase continental trade and investment under the African Continental Free Trade Area.
The statement says both share a mutual desire to pursue deeper trade and investment ties beyond the AGOA, “eventually leading to a continental trade partnership between the United States and Africa that supports regional integration”.
The text of the Joint Statement is below:
The United States and the African Union share a common goal of enhancing the African Union’s efforts to increase continental trade and investment under the African Continental Free Trade Area (the “AfCFTA”).
The United States and the African Union share a mutual desire and common goal to deepen dialogue and cooperation on trade and investment matters and to increase trade and investment between the United States of America and Africa.
The United States recognizes the African Union’s expression of interest to work closely together to identify ways the United States can cooperate on the development of the AfCFTA. The United States recognizes that one of the African Union’s principal aims is to promote sustainable development as well as the integration of African economies.
The United States and the African Union intend to work together with respect to the AfCFTA to promote a sound trade policy environment, regional economies of scale, and the increased flow of goods and services on the continent in order to increase both continental trade and investment, as well as trade and investment between the United States and Africa.
The United States and the African Union intend to jointly identify subject areas related to the ongoing negotiation and implementation of the AfCFTA as subjects for cooperation and for possible technical assistance and capacity building.
The United States and the African Union intend to work together to develop activities that support these priority objectives.
The United States and the African Union share a mutual desire to pursue deeper trade and investment ties beyond the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which is scheduled to expire in 2025, eventually leading to a continental trade partnership between the United States and Africa that supports regional integration.
Signed at Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, August 5, 2019, in the English language.