The just concluded U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, which took place from 13th – 15th December in Washington DC, underscored the United States’ commitment to strengthening partnerships with African states and institutions.
CBC’s President, Mr. Marday Venkatasamy, on the margins of the Summit, participated in a high-level panel discussion on Increasing African-US Private Sector Collaboration Towards Strengthening Investment and Trade in Africa.
Notwithstanding that the U.S. and COMESA have a strong trade and investment relationship under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) signed in 2001, and also that 15 COMESA Member States have market access to the U.S. market under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), Mr. Venkatasamy noted that there is still plenty of untapped potential for enhanced trade between the two regions, and called for the following in order to fully exploit the opportunities therein:
- Enhanced investment in value addition in sectors such as agriculture and mineral extraction
- Strengthening of value chains using innovation and technology to produce and export high-quality products which will be competitive in the global market.
- Addressing the technical capacity constraints faced by SMEs in order to support their development of competitive and quality products for the global market.
- Addressing of gaps in the transport infrastructure and trade facilitation issues on the continent to create an enabling industrialization environment.
- Addressing the cost of doing business in Africa which encompasses the cost of water, energy and taxes amongst others.
- Addressing the lack of harmonisation of regulatory frameworks in the region, which impedes business decisions to increase investment or trade.
- A focus by the U.S. more towards promoting and supporting job-creating investment from industrialized nations.
- The U.S. to consider investment in value added products made on the continent.
- The U.S. to consider simplifying market access and trade facilitation issues for African traders especially SMEs and women in business i.e. in the agriculture sector
- The U.S. to work closely with the private sector to build up a medical industry in Africa.