Washington, D.C. – Acting United States Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis announced today that the United States is exploring the possibility of a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The announcement came during a visit to Washington, D.C. of President Koroma of Sierra Leone, President Sall of Senegal, President Joyce Banda of Malawi, and Prime Minister Neves of Cape Verde. Sierra Leone, Senegal, and Cape Verde are all ECOWAS Member States.
“A Trade and Investment Framework Agreement with the Economic Community of West African States can significantly contribute to economic growth and increased international competitiveness on both sides of the Atlantic. I welcome the support that visiting Heads of State from Cape Verde, Senegal, and Sierra Leone have given to the idea of this proposed new partnership,” said Ambassador Marantis. “We are excited about the opportunity to work with these important West African partners – with guidance from our stakeholders and Members of Congress – on boosting our trade and investment relationship.”
On March 28, President Obama met with the four African Leaders at the White House. As a follow-up to that meeting, Ambassador Marantis and other senior Obama Administration officials proposed that the United States and ECOWAS explore the possibility of concluding a TIFA, among other steps, to increase U.S.-Africa trade and investment. The proposal demonstrates the United States’ ongoing support for ECOWAS, as well as the United States’ continued commitment to Africa’s regional integration and to deepening U.S. economic engagement in West Africa.
If concluded, the TIFA would help support American jobs by creating opportunities for U.S. companies interested in doing business in West Africa, and would assist in addressing impediments to U.S. trade and investment in the region. It would also provide a forum for discussion of topics relevant to economic integration efforts in West Africa.
The proposed U.S.-ECOWAS TIFA would build on the U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa, which was unveiled in June 2012. The U.S. Strategy calls for more enhanced and focused engagement on trade and investment between the United States and sub-Saharan Africa and recognizes trade and investment as a critical engine for broad economic growth.
The United States has TIFAs with four African regional economic organizations: the East African Community (EAC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU/UEMOA), and the Southern African Customs Union (SACU). The United States also has eight bilateral TIFA partners in sub-Saharan Africa: Angola, Ghana, Liberia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, and South Africa. The United States has been using these bilateral and regional TIFAs to support regional integration, encourage greater two-way trade and investment, build capacity in the African private sector, and help support American jobs and opportunities for U.S. businesses in Africa.