ARUSHA, Tanzania, 28 February 2015 / PRN Africa / — Ministers from the East African Community (EAC) have signed a Cooperation Agreement on Trade Facilitation, Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures, and Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) with the U.S. Trade Representative, Ambassador Michael Froman on 26 February, 2015 in Washington, D.C.
The Cooperation Agreement will increase trade-related capacity in the East African region, as well as deepen the economic ties between the EAC and the U.S. This partnership will build on to the EAC’s work on customs reforms, which have already resulted in substantial reductions in the time and costs of moving goods across borders within the EAC Partner States.
During the signing ceremony Ambassador Froman announced that the United States will look into expanding ‘Trade Africa’ beyond the EAC boarders to the rest of Africa. ‘Trade Africa’ is U.S. President Barack Obama’s initiative to support greater U.S.-Africa trade and investment.
“Today’s Agreement is an important milestone for strengthening what has already proven itself to be a promising and impactful partnership,” said Ambassador Froman. “This Agreement will help us lift the burdens that trade barriers impose, unlocking opportunities for both our continents,” he said.
While a majority of the region’s people are involved in agricultural production or processing, the export potential of these products are currently limited. With this new Agreement in place, the EAC can now meet international standards by bringing in U.S. technological expertise to fully implement the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, thus helping EAC Partner States to increase food security and create additional export opportunities for products produced in the region.
By helping to train East African standard officials and developing electronic systems on new proposed technical regulations, EAC partner States will also increase their ability to meet international quality and safety standards by improving implementation of the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade.
“Tremendous efforts and reforms have been taken to facilitate trade in the region, including improving customs procedures, enforcement and modernization as well as technical standards and regulations,” said Hon. Dr. Harrison Mwakyembe, Chairperson of the EAC Council of Ministers and Minister for East African Cooperation, United Republic of Tanzania. “Together with the action plans on SPS and TBT, we believe that important benefits will be achieved through this cooperation,” he said.
Following the signing ceremony, the EAC and U.S. governments, private sector, and other stakeholders went on to discuss strategic ways to further solidify the EAC – U.S. Trade and Investment Partnership and ways on which EAC Partner States can benefit from the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). This Act offers tangible incentives for African countries to continue their efforts to open their economies and build a free market.
“The Agreement we are signing today affirms the strengthened trade and economic ties between the EAC and the U.S.,” Ambassador, Dr. Richard Sezibera, EAC Secretary General. “We are looking forward to improved business ties between the two continents,” he said.
Source: PR Newswire
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of TradeMark Africa.