Friday, June 10, 2011

Forum on US-Africa Trade Concludes in Lusaka

Hillary says African economies well placed to benefit more from AGOA

LUSAKA, June 10 (Xinhua) -- The 2011 African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) forum concluded here on Friday with U. S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pledging the economies of Africa are well placed to benefit even more form the arrangement in the coming years.

Speaking at the closing ceremony of the two-day forum, Hillary said in the past decade, Africa's exports to the United States have quadrupled to 4 billion U. S. dollars, not counting oil.

The growth in trade over the past decade is an accomplishment worth celebrating, both because of what it has meant for the people of Africa, and because of what it says about the possibilities that lie ahead, she said.

"Today Africa is in a strong position to build on this progress. Although it still faces many challenges in many areas, the region is undeniably more stable, more democratic, and more prosperous than a decade ago."

"At the same time, we cannot ignore the signs that we have not made the most of AGOA. African countries export only a handful of the 6,500 products that are eligible for duty-free shipping. The most common export of all is still a barrel of oil," Hillary said.

"As we look to renew this trade agreement.., we must decide whether we are willing to do what's necessary to make the most of its benefits. We either move ahead, or risk failing to live up to the hopes we all shared 11 years ago," she added.

The two-day 2011 AGOA forum was held with the theme "enhanced through increased competitiveness, value addition and deeper regional Integration."

In May 2000, the U. S. Congress approved legislation known as the African Growth and Opportunity Act as Title 1 of the Trade and Development act of 2000 with the purpose to assist the economies of sub-Saharan Africa and to improve economic relations between the United States and the region.

It was signed into law on May 18, 2000 by then U. S. president Bill Clinton. The act will expire in 2015.

In a brief letter to the opening of the forum, U. S. President Barack Obama said he would in the next few months work on the extension of the act, a move widely welcomed by the African countries.

In addition to the extension of the act, the African countries also called for U.S. investment in Africa's infrastructure and trade capacity building, transfer of technology and knowledge.

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