17 June 2012

East Africa: EAC Strikes New Trade Agreement With U.S

Arusha — A new Trade and Investment partnership has been forged between the Arusha-based East African Community (EAC) and the United States of America, the 'Sunday News' has learnt.

An official statement from the EAC Secretariat here said the new Co-operation in trade between the US and EAC has been realized following a meeting on Thursday on the sidelines of the AGOA Forum between the United States and the EAC partner states in Washington, D.C.

The new agreement was signed in the presence of trade ministers from the five EAC member states as well as senior officials from the EAC's Arusha secretariat. The official signing was graced by among other officials, the trade representative from the United States, Mr Ron Kirk and the EAC Secretary General Dr Richard Sezibera.

The event was attended by the Burundian Commerce, Industry, Posts and Tourism Minister, Victoire Ndikumana, the Kenyan Minister of Trade, Mr Moses Wetang'ula, the Rwandan Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Franaois Kanimba and the Tanzanian Minister for Industry, Trade and Marketing, Dr Abdallah Kigoda as well as Amelia Kyambadde, the Ugandan Minister of Trade and Industry.

"Recognizing the importance of strengthening the economic links between the United States and East Africa, our governments jointly resolve to pursue a new trade and investment partnership between the United States and the EAC," said the Ministers' statement.

This new partnership will be built on the foundations of our existing trade and investment relationship, including the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and the United States-EAC Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA).

Under this new partnership the two parties are expected to work together to provide new business opportunities to US and EAC firms by reducing trade barriers, improving the business environment, encouraging open investment regimes and enhancing our two-way trade.

The initial items we have agreed to explore under this new umbrella partnership include a regional investment treaty, a trade facilitation agreement, continued trade capacity building assistance and a commercial dialogue," added the statement.

These agreements and other activities to be pursued will help to promote EAC regional integration, economic growth and expand and diversify US-EAC trade and investment. They could also serve as building blocks towards a more comprehensive trade agreement over the long term.

The ministers in-charge have already directed their respective technical teams led by the EAC to engage as soon as possible to begin consultations on each of the areas we have agreed upon. "We have full confidence that together, we can build a stronger US-EAC trade and investment partnership for the benefit of the American and East African people," assured the ministers in the joint statement.

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