President J.A. Kufuor has called on private sector operators in the United States to increase their investments in Africa beyond the extractive industries of oil and precious minerals.

He identified agriculture, processing, manufacturing and tourism as some key areas they could put their money to assist in technology transfer and build the continent’s capacity to become more competitive and effective partners in trade.

Additionally, they should also look at the re-location of industries and outsourcing Information Communication Technology (ICT) contracts to the region.

He was speaking at the Sixth African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum opened in Accra on Wednesday. The three-day forum is providing the platform for Trade Ministers from the 39 AGOA qualified countries in sub-Saharan Africa, representatives of the private sector, Civil Society groups and US officials to discuss ways of increasing US-Africa trade.

The theme is: “As Trade Grows, Africa Prospers: Optimising the Benefits under AGOA.”

AGOA, a legislative initiative, opens up the US market to eligible countries to export over 6,400 duty-free and quotation-free products, estimated at more than 10 trillion dollars without reciprocity. Imports from Africa under this initiative totaled 44.2 billion dollars last year, a five-fold increase over 2001, when the programme began. The increase involved mostly crude oil and apparel exports.

The programme ends in 2015 and this, President Kufuor said, must be extended by five years to give Africa space to take full advantage of the opportunity.

“Given the time constraint and the very serious capacity challenges, we must admit, Africa can hardly exploit the benefits of this huge initiative anywhere to the full.”

He said: “I will therefore appeal, first to the US Government to extend the time of AGOA to 20 years, then to the countries in Africa as well as our development partners in the US to design and implement a specific and efficacious vehicle targeted at empowering African nations in terms of capacity building.”

President Kufuor said AGOA benefits must not be seen only from the perspective of the African.

He noted that AGOA complemented by the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) assured Africa of America’s goodwill.

The Head of the US Delegation, Ms Susan Schwab, said her country, was determined to serve as a strategic partner with Africa and would not stop, until the continent has realised its enormous potentials.

She noted that if the region could increase its share of the global trade, which stands at two per cent, by a single percentage, it would be generating 70 billion dollars annually.

This would be about three times the amount of development assistance it has been receiving.

Ms. Schwab spoke of the need for enhanced intra-African trade and South-South trading and re-affirmed the US commitment to reducing agricultural trade distortions.

Ms. Schwab, who is the Trade Advisor to President Bush, described the future of Africa as full of hope saying, there was now a new breed of political leaders who were determined to turn the economic fortunes of the continent around.

Mr. Allan Kyeremanten, Minister of Trade, Industry, Private Sector Development and PSI, called for a conscious effort to coordinate and tailor US technical assistance programmes to support the capacity requirement of African countries to implement AGOA related activities.

Source: GNA


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