Washington – Assistant United States Trade Representative for Africa Florizelle B. Liser is among the senior U.S. officials participating in the 2005 U.S.-Sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum that opened today in Dakar, Senegal. The annual meeting, held in accordance with the landmark African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), brings together ministerial-level government officials from the United States and the 37 sub-Saharan African countries that are eligible for AGOA trade benefits to discuss a broad range of trade and development issues. The "AGOA Forum" also includes sessions involving private sector and civil society representatives from the U.S. and African countries.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns are to attend the three-day event, which was opened by Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade. President George W. Bush greeted Forum participants via a videotaped message that was shown at the opening ceremony.
"The AGOA Forum provides an opportunity to build on the commitment that President Bush and other G-8 leaders made at the Gleneagles Summit to help African countries use the power of trade and free markets to grow their economies and reduce poverty." said U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman. "By promoting open markets and increased trade with the United States, AGOA has given new hope and opportunity to Africans and helped AGOA-eligible countries to play a larger role in the global marketplace. Since the implementation of AGOA in 2000, U.S. exports have increased by 44%, and U.S. imports from sub-Saharan Africa have increased by over 50%. The program supports the efforts of those African countries that are undertaking difficult economic and political reforms."
"The AGOA Forum is also an opportunity for the United States and African countries to demonstrate our shared interest in reforming the global trading system," Amb. Portman added. "African countries have a strong stake in the success of the World Trade Organization’s Doha Development Agenda negotiations. According to the World Bank, almost two-thirds of the global annual income gain from worldwide elimination of barriers to goods trade would go to African and other developing countries, and three-quarters of these gains would result from increased trade among developing countries."
The theme of the 2005 AGOA Forum is "Expanding and Diversifying Trade to Promote Growth and Competitiveness." Many of the sessions will focus on how AGOA beneficiary countries can diversify their exports and make the most of the broad range of products eligible for duty-free treatment under the AGOA program. A variety of other trade-related topics will also be discussed including the investment climate, energy development, transportation and infrastructure issues, and partnerships to address HIV/AIDS.
Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Liser will co-chair four sessions: 1) a plenary session on means to expand trade under AGOA (with Ghanaian Trade Minister Kyerematen), 2) a roundtable with trade ministers on advancing the World Trade Organization’s Doha Development Agenda negotiations (with Rwandan Trade Minister Nshuti), 3) a workshop on apparel trade (with Lesotho Trade Minister Malie), and 4) a workshop on expanding African intra-regional trade (with Secretary General Mwencha of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa).
On July 13, 2005 USTR transmitted to Congress a report, called for in the AGOA Acceleration Act of 2004, that identifies the economic sectors with the greatest potential for export growth in all 37 AGOA-eligible countries. The report also identifies barriers that are impeding growth in these sectors and makes recommendations on how the U.S. government and the private sector can help these countries, via technical assistance, to dismantle these barriers and promote investment. The report is available on the USTR web site (