US wants to discuss duty-free trade access with African ministers before end-2021

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US Trade Representative Katherine Tai. (Photo: GALLO IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES)
US Trade Representative Katherine Tai. (Photo: GALLO IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES)

The US’s trade chief plans to convene a meeting with African ministers before the end of the year to strengthen partnerships and discuss a law that provides duty-free access to the US for thousands of goods from sub-Saharan nations.

“It is important that we meet despite the pandemic to discuss how we can build on the successes of the African Growth and Opportunity Act,” US Trade Representative Katherine Tai said in remarks prepared for delivery at the Corporate Council on Africa’s US-Africa Business Summit Tuesday. She added the US wants to collaborate on labour and environment standards, anti-corruption, and good regulatory practices, and helping small businesses succeed and find new markets for their products.

AGOA gives about three dozen nations duty-free access to the world’s biggest economy and is due to expire in 2025.

Tai also said the US. will provide technical assistance as nations work to implement the African Continental Free Trade Area. More than 50 nations have signed on to the deal, which took effect this January, and promises to reduce or eliminate 90% of internal cross-border tariffs by 2030.

AfCFTA created the world’s biggest free-trade zone by area, with a combined economy of $2.5 trillion and a market of 1.2 billion people. It has the potential to help bring 30 million people out of extreme poverty and could lead to a $450 billion increase in the region’s income by 2035, if accompanied by significant policy reforms and trade-facilitation measures, according to the World Bank.

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