News Column

U.S. to Renew Agoa Before 2015 Expiry Date

August 7, 2014

Kingsley Ighomwenghian

United States Vice President Joe Biden said on Tuesday the Barack Obama-led administration was working with the Congress to renew the African Growth Opportunities Act (AGOA) before it expires next year.

Addressing participants at the ongoing U.S.-Africa Business Forum hosted by Bloomberg Philanthropies and the U.S. Commerce Department in Washington DC, Biden said already, AGOA "has allowed more than 6,400 African products to reach American customers duty-free, supporting African jobs and industries range - ranging from vehicles to vegetables.

"Since 2010, non-oil exports from sub-Saharan Africa to the United States have almost quadrupled.

"I see no reason why - and this is not hyperbole - I see no reason why trade and investments between the United States and Africa should not double or triple or even quadruple in the decades ahead.

"But to get there, each of us has a whole lot of work to do. And no one knows that better than the people and, particularly, the heads of state sitting in this audience," he added.

Continuing, he said: "We're working to connect more African companies with American businesses and the United States is also providing more direct support to make trade and investment easier.

"Our Export-Import Bank financed a record $1.7 billion in exports to Africa over the past 10 years.

"We should do more. The Overseas Private Investment Corporation, OPIC, has financed nearly $3 billion in projects across Africa under President Obama and every dollar invested by OPIC as sparked on average $2.66 in additional private sector investment.

"The U.S. Trade and Development Agency has funded over 100 projects expected to generate over $1 billion in U.S. exports while building up the infrastructure of sub-Saharan Africa," he added.

Biden said America "is proud of the extent to which our investment in Africa goes hand-in-hand with our efforts to hire and train locals to foster economic development and not just to extract what's in the ground; to protect human rights, labour rights; and protect the environment; to create new opportunities for women and girls."

He said the U.S. believes in helping growth and ingraining a set of rules that are fair and decent to all competitors, rather than cutting corners, because the ties being built are those that have to last.

"The rules we're advancing are rules that will benefit us all, and the prosperity we are promoting is prosperity we can sustain together if we do it correctly at the front end."

According to him, there are so many areas of partnership between Africa and the U.S. for the mutual benefit of their citizens.

He said already, "$50 billion in U.S. exports to Africa already support a quarter of a million American jobs right here in the United States. African consumers are spending $1.3 trillion, and that's projected to double by the year 2030".

Also speaking with Bloomberg Television on the sidelines of the forum, Jay Ireland, General Electric Company'sAfrica chief executive officer, said it would invest $2.4 billion building new plants in Nigeria, South Africa, Algeria and Angola, over the next year.

The investment would be across different countries and areas, he said, adding that the investment would focus "on localisation, capacity building, skills building, as well as investment in facilities for us".

Besides the manufacturing assembly facilities in the four countries, there would be "a customer innovation centre in South Africa, some skills building and localisation work in Mozambique'.

"In Ethiopia, we'll be doing local assembly. And continued growth in Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire, francophone in Africa. And so it'll be a pretty broad-based investment."

Ireland said the economic growth projection of about 5.5 per cent on the African continent is attractive and tremendous coming from not just resources, but a broadening of the various economies.

"We're seeing more - more manufacturing, more added value manufacturing being done," he added.

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Source: AllAfrica

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