The Star (Nairobi)

3 November 2012

East Africa: U.S Moves to Beat China in EAC

The US has crafted a four-pronged approach to recharge its business relationship with the East African region in the face of stiff competition from China and other emerging Asian giants.

On a recent visit to Kenya, deputy US Trade Representative Ambassador Demetrios Marantis said the approach includes signing of an investment treaty with EAC trade block.

"We are enthusiastic to do business with the region that is recording one of the highest growth rates in the world, and now a 75 million people market under the East African community block," said Marantis.

The plan will also include trade continuous dialogue and a technical capacity building component valued at $10 million.

American businesses will be seeking direct partnerships with governments in public private partnerships especially in Kenya's large capital intensive Vision 2030 projects.

Marantis said a favorable replacement of the African Growth and Opportunity Act on its expiry in 2015 may be part of the new strategy to ensure a non-disruptive transition from the current trade arrangement.

The US Government recently passed a Bill extending the third country fabric provision which would have lapsed in September 2012, to September 30, 2015.

The provision allows eligible African countries to use imported fabric from anywhere in the world for their apparel exports to the US without losing their duty free AGOA benefits.

Marantis told the American Chamber of Commerce African summit in Nairobi that the EAC regions is ready for business but needs to improve roads and quicker transactions at border points.

"We have seen tremendous improvement in investment environment in the region, and we are happy sanctity contracts is one of trade aspects being given emphasis," Marantis said.

According to Marantis, the integrated approach to business in the region will boost trade relations and increase investments.

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