For Immediate Release
Gaborone, Botswana - The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) officially launched the new Southern Africa Trade Hub in Botswana on Thursday, November 18, at the Gaborone Sun Conference Center.
The Southern Africa Trade Hub’s (SATH) goal is to improve international competitiveness, intra-regional trade and food security in the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The SATH will support the regional integration agenda and increase the trade capacity of regional value chains in selected sectors. USAID’s Trade Hub will be integral to implement President Obama’s “Feed The Future” (FTF) initiative by enabling Southern African farmers to improve agricultural production and supply nutritious food in the region where some countries often face food deficits. The SATH is headquartered in Gaborone with a budget of more than $80 million over five years.
The SATH builds on eight years of experience of the two previous Trade Hubs in the SADC region. Initially established in 2002 with the goal of enhancing exports under the US Africa Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA), USAID’s Trade Hub has expanded its scope of activities to support new initiatives within the region.
Despite the global economic crisis, trade has proven effective in spurring economic growth in the SADC region and translating that growth into poverty reduction and greater food security. Several factors, however, cause relatively low trade levels: insufficient, un-harmonized trade policies; lack of institutional capacity; lack of consistency and transparency in tariff regimes; significant non-tariff barriers; weak infrastructure; lack of business community awareness of export markets; difficulty in complying with international standards; low levels of investment; measly finance; and, expensive and inadequate communications services.
USAID’s Trade Hub aims to address or eliminate these constraints by providing technical assistance that enables government, the private sector, and civil society organizations throughout the SADC region to take greater advantage of regional and global trade linkages and export-oriented business development.
United States Ambassador to Botswana Stephen J. Nolan said, “Increased trade is key to achieving greater economic growth and poverty reduction. It is particularly important to address the challenge of food security in many countries. I am confident that this expanded engagement by the United States in promoting competitiveness and regional trade will have a deep, long-lasting, and positive effect.”
According to USAID’s Southern Africa Director, Jeff Borns, “Trade is the most sustainable form of aid. USAID’s approach to economic development through trade enables businesses to participate in mainstream economic activities.” The official launch also featured Dr. Tomaz Augusto Salomão, Executive Director of the Southern African Development Community. Following official remarks, Dr. Robert Kirk, SATH Chief of Party, presented the work plan for the Trade Hub for the coming year.
The American people, through the U.S. Agency for International Development, have provided economic and humanitarian assistance worldwide for nearly 50 years.
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Last updated: March 15, 2013