The U.S. and the East African Community have agreed to launch formal negotiations on a trade facilitation agreement, according to Michael Froman, U.S. Trade Representative.
The EAC is a regional economic organization comprising Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. The new negotiations, which are part of President Obama’s Trade Africa initiative, which backs greater U.S.-Africa trade and investment, regional integration and trade competitiveness, will aim to build on the work of the existing U.S.-EAC Trade and Investment Partnership.
“We will add new elements to the U.S.-EAC TIP focused on sanitary and phytosanitary measures and technical barriers to trade,” Froman said in a written statement after meeting with the EAC trade ministers and secretary general. “[The U.S. Agency for International Development] will transform the East Africa trade hub into a U.S.-East Africa trade and investment center to expand U.S. regional trade programs, spur private investment and scale up business-to-business and association-to-association partnerships.”
“The United States is also forming a new partnership with TradeMark East Africa, a multi-donor funded organization dedicated to supporting greater EAC regional integration by breaking down barriers at the border and facilitating trade,” Froman continued. “The U.S. and the EAC have agreed to continue to work toward an investment treaty, and to seek to build on already notable progress in fostering greater private sector linkages and public-private sector engagement under the U.S.-EAC commercial dialogue.”
Senior members of the Obama administration from the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, State and Transportation, as well as from USAID and the U.S. African Development Foundation, also participated in the trade ministerial meeting, as did members of the U.S. and EAC private sectors.