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Indiaexportnews.com

Africa seeks multilateral deal with the US - but US likes bilaterals

  20.08.2019    

The United States favours bilateral trade agreements with individual African nations but the pan African Union (AU) seeks an all-encompassing multi-lateral free trade accord, reports Bloomberg News.
This emerged from an interview with assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Tibor Nagy.
Specifically the AU Trade and Industry Commissioner Albert Muchanga favours a free-trade agreement with the US. to replace the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
"African economies are small and fragmented," Mr Muchanga said. "Bilateral agreements reinforce fragmentation of those markets."
"To replace AGOA, we would like to see an agreement between the whole of Africa and the US," said Mr Muchanga at the forum in Abidjan.
Africa should negotiate with "one voice" for a new trade pact after 2025, he said.
The US and AU signed a joint statement on Monday at the AGOA Forum in Abidjan, saying they share a goal to enhance the AU's effort to increase continental trade and investment under the African Continental Free Trade Area.
The continent-wide trade agreement, that's being driven by the AU, aims to create the world's largest free-trade zone. It officially came into force in May and should be fully in operation by 2030.
The AGOA accord provides 39 sub-Saharan African countries duty-free access to the US for about 6,500 products, ranging from textiles to manufactured items. The act was first signed into law by former President Bill Clinton in 2000 and extended for 10 years by former President Barack Obama in 2015.
The US currently only has one free-trade agreement on the African continent - with Morocco - and is pursuing a trade deal with an unidentified country in sub-Saharan Africa.
Mr Nagy said that the agreement would be used as a model for others when AGOA expires. The AGOA preference scheme is underutilised and that's why it's going to be very difficult to renew it in 2025, Mr Muchanga said.
The new continent-wide free-trade agreement will help businesses gain experience to supply to a bigger market and export more goods to the rest of the world, he said.



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