Trade Africa

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Africa is home to the most promising untapped markets in the world. Fourteen percent of the world’s population lives there, yet African products make up just 2 percent of world trade. Consumer spending is set to rise 80 percent by 2020 and Africa now has a fast-growing middle class, expected to increase from 60 million to 100 million people by 2015.

The continent’s fortune is not the result of good luck. It is the result of years of hard work and better macroeconomic management, improved economic and political governance, increasing foreign capital inflows, and improvements in the business climate.

American support for the development of Africa’s economic growth not only helps Africans translate our investments to improve living standards, but also generates new export markets for American goods and services.

Trade Africa is a partnership between the United States and sub-Saharan Africa to increase internal and regional trade within Africa, and expand trade and economic ties among Africa, the United States, and other global markets.

The initiative focuses on the member states of the East African Community (EAC) -- Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda. An economic success story, the EAC represents a market with significant opportunity for U.S. exports and investment. The five states of the EAC, with a population of more than 130 million people, have increasingly stable and pro-business regulations. They are home to promising local enterprises that are forming creative partnerships with multinational companies. And EAC countries are benefiting from the emergence of an educated, globalized middle class. Intra-EAC trade has doubled in the past five years, and the region’s GDP has risen to more than $80 billion.

In its initial phase, Trade Africa aims to double intra-regional trade in the EAC, increase EAC exports to the United States by 40 percent, reduce by 15 percent the average time needed to import or export a container from the ports of Mombasa or Dar es Salaam to land-locked Burundi and Rwanda in the EAC’s interior, and decrease by 30 percent the average time a truck takes to transit selected borders.

Regional transit and horticulture in Africa

Increase U.S.-EAC Trade and Investment

Trade Africa will help mobilize resources to support increased U.S.-EAC trade and investment, building upon the Trade and Investment Partnership announced in June 2012. Activities include:

  • Exploring a U.S.-EAC Investment Treaty to contribute to a more attractive investment environment
  • Establishing a new U.S.–EAC Commercial Dialogue to bring the private sector together with policy makers and increase opportunities for trade and investment
  • Operating U.S.–Africa Trade Hubs that provide information, advisory services, risk mitigation and financing to encourage linkages between U.S. and East African investors and exporters
  • Advancing the “Doing Business in Africa” campaign to encourage U.S. businesses to take advantage of growing trade and investment opportunities and to promote trade missions, reverse trade missions, trade shows, and business-to-business matchmaking in key sectors

Support EAC Regional Integration

The United States supports the EAC’s efforts to advance regional integration, through bilateral and regional trade facilitation and a partnership with TradeMark East Africa that specifically focuses on:

Trade Africa Almeda Textiles Ethiopia
  • Reducing barriers at borders, including by moving to single border crossings and implementing customs modernization programs using innovative technologies that allow customs services to communicate with each other
  • Supporting the transition to a single EAC customs and revenue sharing authority
  • Addressing barriers to transit that constrain the region’s competitiveness, including by reducing the number of roadblocks and the amount of time spent and fees paid to move products from the ports to neighboring borders

Increase EAC Trade Competitiveness

The United States will also form public-private partnerships with East African and U.S. industries and trade associations to stimulate greater trade in goods under the African Growth and Opportunity Act and to:

  • Build the capacity of private sector associations in Africa to provide sustainable business services and promote investment in key growth sectors in Africa, including agriculture, health, clean energy, environment and trade-related infrastructure
  • Formalize partnerships between American and African associations to increase trade through collaboration on trade shows and business-to-business matchmaking
  • Work with governments and National Export Associations to develop export strategies and establish export resource centers across the EAC to provide sustainable services for firms looking to export under AGOA

Last updated: August 08, 2014

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