Moves to push for new US Africa trade policy

Business News of Tuesday, 14 March 2017



Us PolicyMr Scott Eisner

The President of US-Africa Business Centre at the US Chamber of Commerce, Mr Scott Eisner, has expressed the resolve of the chamber to make Africa the frontline of President Donald Trump’s administration in terms of trade policies.

Towards that, he said, the chamber would soon begin talks with some key stakeholders in the new administration in America to push for the development of a US-African trade policy.

“The US Chamber of Commerce, together with its affiliates in Africa, such as the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) Ghana, will soon begin discussions with key personalities in the United State of America to push for the development of US-African trade policy,” Mr Eisner said at a forum organised by the AmCham on Friday, March 10, 2017 in Accra.

His visit was also part of an initiative by the chamber to strengthen its relationship with Ghana. Mr Eisner represents the Chamber’s interests in Africa through its US.-Africa Business Center (USAfBC), the business community’s leading advocacy group aimed at strengthening US-Africa trade relations.

Build bilateral relationship

But, following the uncertainties with Mr Trump’s administration, he urged countries in Africa to begin building regional bilateral relationship with the United State of America to promote trade among respective countries instead of waiting for support.

That, he said, was because, among other things, what the new administration in America intended to do was to cut diplomacy and foreign aid budgets by at least 37 per cent to help pay for increased military spending, US officials.

He observed that the new administration might also not extend the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) after the present agreement expired in 2025.

The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) underpins US trade with sub-Saharan Africa. AGOA was extended and reauthorised on four occasions, most recently in 2015 until 2025.

The AGOA accords duty-free treatment to virtually all products exported by beneficiary sub-Saharan African countries to the US.

It provides beneficiary countries with the most liberal access to the US market accorded to any country or region that has not negotiated a free trade agreement with the US.

Its benefits are currently extended to 37 Sub-Saharan African countries and to more than 1,800 tariff line items, in addition to the 4,600 items already enjoying duty-free status on the US Generalised System of Preferences programme.

Confident in Ghana

Mr Eisner said he was confident in the new government of Ghana to establish an improved business environment to attract investors, particularly those from the USA into the economy.

Going forward, he said the chamber was ready to work with the government to bring value to the country’s economy.

About 46 per cent of US companies in the country have invested over US$13 billion in the country and this figure is projected to reach US$21 billion by 2020.

He said the US Chamber of Commerce was one of the world’s largest business organisations representing the interests of more than three million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions.

“Our members range from mom-and-pop shops and local chambers to leading industry associations and large corporations. They all share one thing, they count on the chamber to be their voice in the market,” he added.