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U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk Concludes Three Day Visit to Ghana Focused on Promoting Jobs and Economic Growth on Both Sides of the Atlantic

07/13/2012

Accra, Ghana – United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk traveled to Accra, Ghana this week where he held a series of bilateral meetings with business leaders and Ghanaian government officials. Discussions focused on the importance of trade and investment in promoting economic growth in Africa and the United States, as well as the Obama Administration’s new Presidential Policy Directive (PPD) for Sub-Saharan Africa -- a new proactive strategy to strengthen democratic institutions and increase economic growth, trade, and investment in the region. Ambassador Kirk also discussed with officials both countries' interest in considering the possibility of a U.S.-Ghana bilateral investment treaty (BIT), which would represent a major milestone in our bilateral economic relationship.

“Ghana and the United States have a true partnership that is helping workers, farmers, and businesses flourish in both of our countries” said Ambassador Kirk. “The Obama Administration has invested considerable energy and resources in efforts to ramp up two-way trade between the United States and African countries. Six of the ten fastest-growing countries in the world are in Sub-Saharan Africa, and Ghana is one of the most progressive among them. This creates opportunities both for African and American firms. Sustained economic growth has the potential to lift millions out of poverty and foster long-term stability. Today’s challenge is to ensure these gains continue and spread.”

Ambassador Kirk’s visit to Ghana underscores the growing trade and investment opportunities in one of Africa’s fastest-growing countries, and demonstrates the Obama Administration’s commitment to working with African countries to build positive, mutually beneficial economic partnerships. Two-way trade between the United States and Ghana totaled nearly $2 billion in 2011, a 56 percent increase over 2010. U.S. imports from Ghana were valued at $779 million, up nearly three-fold from $273 million in 2010. Imports from Ghana under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) ($454 million in 2011) represented a substantial portion of total imports, and consisted of oil, cocoa powder and paste, vegetables, fruits, precious metals, baskets and apparel. U.S. exports to Ghana topped $2 billion in 2011, up 25 percent from $963 million in 2010, and included petroleum products, machinery, and vehicles. Ghana was chosen as one of four countries in President Obama’s Partnerships for Growth (PFG) initiative, which is designed to promote broad-based economic growth through trade and investment.

In addition to meeting with officials from the Ghanaian government, Ambassador Kirk spoke at an event in Accra hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce in Ghana, which was attended by local American and Ghanaian business leaders and Ghanaian government officials. In his remarks, Ambassador Kirk spoke about the new Presidential Policy Directive, noted progress made under AGOA, and discussed how increased U.S.-Ghana trade supported jobs in both countries.

Just yesterday, Ambassador Kirk traveled to Tema, Ghana to visit the Lucky 1888 Textile Mills factory, where approximately 500 Ghanaian women work to make medical scrubs for export to the United States. After touring the factory and meeting with workers, Ambassador Kirk discussed the urgent need for Congress to renew the Third-Country Fabric provision (TCF) of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which is set to expire in September. The Lucky 1888 Mills factory relies on the TCF, and will likely have to lay off all of its employees if the Third Country Fabric provision is not renewed.

After visiting the Lucky 1888 factory, Ambassador Kirk toured Cargill’s Tema-based cocoa processing facility. There are currently about 420 people that are directly or indirectly employed by the processing facility. During the tour, Ambassador Kirk and the U.S. delegation were able to see how cocoa beans are processed into cocoa powder, and packaged for export to Europe and the United States for use in baking products. The success of the Lucky Mills and Cargill factories represents an example of how AGOA is working to create jobs in Ghana and in other parts of Africa. The U.S.-Ghana trade relationship, with the help of important initiatives like AGOA, appears to be maturing into a mutually beneficial and lasting partnership.