ENP Newswire -
Release date- 04082014 -
Good morning Excellencies, Secretary Kerry, ladies and gentlemen. I'm happy to be here with you today to launch these important discussions on the US African Growth and Opportunity Act.
I'll make just two points before turning to our keynote speakers today.
The first is to remind ourselves that African countries have enormous potential to expand trade in order to drive growth, reduce poverty and deliver jobs. Countries must now find the right approaches to take advantage of opportunities to greatly expand trade within
Trade preference schemes such as AGOA - now in its 15th year-can play an important role in helping
AGOA has also played a key role in increasing exports and employment in the apparel sector in countries such as
My second point is that in order for African countries to realize their export potential and take full advantage of AGOA, they must address several constraints.
One is an infrastructure challenge. Our studies show that the poor state of infrastructure in Sub-Saharan Africa- including electricity, water, roads, and ICT - cuts countries' economic growth by 2 percentage points every year and reduces business productivity by as much as 40 percent.
A second constraint is the lack of capacity of local firms and workers. There are few industry-specific training institutions dedicated to the apparel industry, and the ones that do exist often don't provide skills that meet the needs of employers.
And a last constraint is that policy reforms are needed to improve trade and competitiveness and support the development of competitive firms across the value chain.
We believe it will be critical to first reduce barriers to the regional integration of goods, services and investment. Following trips with the UN Secretary-General
A range of non-tariff and regulatory barriers still raise the transaction costs and limit the movement of goods, services, people, and capital across borders. The end result is that
The costs of these regional trade barriers fall disproportionately on the poor. Building better regional linkages means more than simply removing tariffs. It is about addressing real world constraints that paralyze the daily operations of ordinary producers and traders.
We hope that AGOA will continue beyond 2015. We also hope AGOA is strengthened so that
We look forward to your discussion today.
It is now my pleasure and honor to welcome Secretary Kerry, who for more than a quarter century has been one of the world's leaders in promoting international trade and in particular trade between
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