Saturday, June 16, 2012

Janneh lauds AGOA's benefits to Africa; calls for its strengthening post-2015

15 Jun 2012 12:34 Africa/Lagos

Janneh lauds AGOA's benefits to Africa; calls for its strengthening post-2015

WASHINGTON, June 15, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Under Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Abdoulie Janneh has called for strengthening the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) by focusing on productive capacity, infrastructure development, and strengthening regional integration in the post-2015 phase of the US-Africa Partnership. Mr. Janneh was speaking at a Panel Discussion on: Strengthening AGOA and Deepening Commercial Ties between the US and Africa organized by the Africa Growth Initiative at Brookings, Washington DC this week.

Signed into law in 2000 by former President Bill Clinton, AGOA represents what has been termed as a fundamental change to US policy towards Sub-Saharan Africa. AGOA moved the relationship from development assistance to trade and investment between Africa and the US as stimuli for economic development and poverty reduction.

In his remarks, Mr. Janneh pointed out that since the start of AGOA, “Africa's prospects are no longer a matter of debate and that the improved economic and political governance in the continent, accounts for the robust growth that the African economy has been registering.”

He also underscored the importance of the African private sector that he said is demonstrating great optimism and playing an increasingly important role in economic activities on the continent. “A noticeable number of African companies are investing outside their home countries in other African countries,” he added.

Mr. Janneh highlighted the results of a continental survey on AGOA's developmental impact conducted by the African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC). He underscored the benefits, saying that AGOA has had a positive developmental impact; in as far as it has helped create jobs and enabling households to earn income.”

“The majority see AGOA as being an export market and a source of investments and imports. Benefiting countries have been able to build an industrial base for textiles and apparel with evident economic payoffs for countries such as Botswana, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mauritius, South Africa and Swaziland and to a lesser extent Cape Verde, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Tanzania, and Uganda,” said Janneh, “

He however, pointed out that AGOA could have done better in terms of employment creation. “The fear of AGOA phase-out was cited in the continental survey, as impeding building local capacity through investment, thereby deterring job creation,” he said.

On existing fears and the debate on extending AGOA provisions, he said: “Of immediate priority, there is a need to provide certainty to the thousands of workers currently employed in industries and factories that produce for the US market while taking advantage of AGOA. Extending the provisions of AGOA beyond 30 September 2015, and urgently renewing the Third Country Fabric provision that is due to expire in September 2012 is critical,” he urged.

He also called for an Alignment of AGOA to African Regional Integration, explaining that the post-AGOA 2015 Africa-US economic, trade and investment partnership requires “a strategic framework that recognizes the African agenda of boosting intra-African trade.” He pointed out that the creation of a continental free trade area would create a market of more than one billion people with a combined GDP of close to US$2 trillion.

He further pointed out that the demand for better goods and social services by an emerging African middle class “will help to yield positive returns for American investments, which will also create jobs for both partners.” It is estimated that Africa's middle class will amount to 300 million people by 2030 and that their spending power will amount to 2.2 trillion dollars.

The US-Africa partnership, concluded Janneh, “must have as core objectives, the enhancement of productive capacity, infrastructure development, and the strengthening of regional integration. A future partnership that focuses on these core objectives, and deepens Africa's regional integration will lead to the strengthening of US-Africa relationship and generate significant mutual benefits.”

Source: Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)

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