Promoting Trade and African Growth

Article excerpt

Florizelle Liser is Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Africa, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. This overview of US trade and investment policy toward Africa was presented before the US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs on June 28, 2012.

Chairman Coons, Ranking Member Isakson, and other distinguished members of the subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today about the Obama Administration's strategy to encourage economic growth, trade and investment in Africa. We welcome your interest in and support for advancing the U.S. trade and investment relationship with sub-Saharan Africa.

The Administration's Strategy for Sub-Saharan Africa

On June 14, 2012, President Obama approved a new Presidential Policy Directive (PPD) for sub-Saharan Africa. To advance U.S. interests in Africa, the strategy sets forth four strategic objectives: (1) strengthen democratic institutions; (2) spur economic growth, trade and investment; (3) advance peace and security; and (4) promote opportunity and development.

The new strategy commits the United States to be proactive in the face of the numerous challenges and opportunities facing sub- Saharan Africa. In particular, it directs the United States to expand our efforts to increase economic growth, trade, and investment. USTR is part of an interagency effort - building on the successes of the partnerships we have built in previous years - to foster sustained economic growth and to promote U.S. trade and investment with sub-Saharan Africa.

Spurring Economic Growth, Trade and Investment

Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to grow by more than 5 percent this year, and between 2000 and 2010, 6 of the 10 fastest-growing countries in the world were in Sub-Saharan Africa. Sustained economic growth has the potential to lift millions out of poverty and foster long-term stability. Today's challenge is to ensure that these gains continue and are spread across the continent. The Administration's new strategy addresses these challenges by calling for increased U.S. focus to spur economic growth through expanded trade and investment by (1) promoting an enabling environment for trade and investment; (2) improving economic governance; (3) promoting regional integration; (4) expanding African capacity to effectively access and benefit from global markets; and (5) encouraging U.S. companies to trade with and invest in Africa.

This approach recognizes that it is in the interest of the United States and our African partners to promote regional integration, create new trade and investment opportunities for African and U.S. firms, encourage the diversification of African exports beyond natural resources, and ensure that the benefits from growth are broad-based.

AGOA and The Third Country Fabric Provision

AGOA is the cornerstone of America's trade and investment policy with sub- Saharan Africa. AGOA's performance and effectiveness are closely tied to its Third-Country Fabric (TCF) provision, which is set to expire in September 2012. The TCF provision is crucial to the continued survival of Africa's textile and apparel industry it has generated hundreds of thousands of jobs in sub-Saharan Africa, including in least developed countries, and has helped American retailers reduce their costs, diversify their supply chains, and provide greater low-cost apparel options for U.S. consumers. Swift passage of legislation extending AGOA's TCF provision is necessary and its extension urgently needed to ensure AGOA's continued success and the stability, development, and economic growth of sub-Saharan African countries. We applaud Congress' recent agreement to advance AGOA's third country fabric provision, and appreciate the work that members of this Committee have undertaken to move this important provision forward. [Editor's note: both chambers of Congress voted in August 2012 to extend the TCF provision. …