Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk spoke to reporters in Addis Ababa today, at the conclusion of his official visit to Ethiopia. Ambassador Kirk has been in Africa since August 4. He participated in the 8th Annual African Growth and Opportunity Act Forum in Nairobi, Kenya, before traveling to Ethiopia. He will visit Senegal before returning home to the U.S. From Ambassador Kirk:
"I am here because Ethiopia is a key U.S trading partner in Africa. I am also here because Ethiopia's story is emblematic of U.S. engagement with all of Africa on trade and development.
"We have seen progress. Our countries have a robust trade relationship. AGOA is a huge part of that. Ethiopia is doing particularly well under AGOA. Exports more than doubled from 2007 to 2008. Ethiopia is diversifying exports. And we can see the fruits of U.S. efforts to build trade capacity here.
"Yet, challenges remain. We must continue to work together so that Ethiopian exporters can take full advantage of AGOA opportunities. We must work together to build trade capacity here and across sub-Saharan Africa. We must work to become full partners in the global trading system.
"The U.S. supports and encourages Ethiopia's work to accede to the WTO. We commend Ethiopia for completing its First Working Party on accession in May 2008. We encourage Ethiopia to keep working at it. America will continue to provide technical assistance.
"We also encourage further economic reforms. Reforms will encourage investment, trade, and economic growth, and make Ethiopia more competitive."