Today, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis began his three country East Africa visit in Burundi where he met with senior government officials and members of the private sector. Ambassador Marantis met with Second Vice President Gervais Rufyikiri, Commerce Minister Victoire Ndikumana, and other officials who were participating in a conference focused on rooting out corruption in Burundi. The officials discussed the Burundian government’s reform agenda and its policies to increase economic growth and reduce poverty, particularly through increased trade and investment. Ambassador Marantis commended the Burundian Government on its efforts to reform the local business environment, which has significantly improved Burundi's ranking in the World Bank’s “Doing Business” report. He encouraged them to continue such reforms.
Ambassador Marantis also pressed them to develop a national strategy to take advantage of the export opportunities provided by the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). In addition, he discussed how the new U.S.-East African Community (EAC) Trade and Investment Partnership can benefit Burundi, the EAC, and the United States by promoting investment and reducing bottlenecks to trade.
Pictured right to left: U.S. Charge d'Affairs Sam Watson;
Ambassador Demetrios Marantis;
Burundian Minister of Commerce, Industry, Post, and Tourism Victoire Ndikumana;
Second Vice President of Burundi Gervais Rufyikiri
Ambassador Marantis then visited the Kazoza I’kawa Coffee Washing Station, one of the many coffee processing facilities in the country that have benefited from U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) assistance. Ambassador Marantis and local coffee farmers discussed how the open U.S. market for African-produced products, like coffee - coupled with development assistance provided by the United States - can create opportunities to increase incomes and reduce poverty in Burundi.
At his last stop of the day in Bujumbura, Ambassador Marantis met with local private-sector stakeholders. Participants at the meeting acknowledged the improved business climate in Burundi, but said that more could be done to help them take advantage of increased business opportunities in the region and with the United States.
Ambassador Marantis is in East Africa to advance the U.S.-East African Community (EAC) Trade and Investment Partnership, a model initiative to enhance regional integration among the five EAC partner states (Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda) and two-way trade and investment between the EAC partner states and the United States. While on his three country visit, Ambassador Marantis will conduct bilateral meetings with partner state senior officials, visit African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) exporters, meet with various private sector organizations—including a meeting of all U.S. American Chambers of Commerce in sub-Saharan Africa—and participate in a special EAC trade Ministerial meeting with key leaders from all five EAC partner states.