Eswatini Daily News
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African leaders point out gaps in US-Africa trade

By Khulile Thwala

With the United States (US) African Leaders Summit having come to a close last week, African leaders were highly critical of the relations and raised many questions.

At least 49 African governments, the African Union (AU) Commission, representatives from civil society and the private sector, young leaders and the African diaspora in the US attended the event which span three days.

The Summit was convened at a time when Russia’s war in Ukraine has disrupted Africa’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic by exacerbating food and energy insecurities, causing inflation, and massive disruptions in trade and supply chains.

These challenges now threaten to reverse decades of hard-worn macroeconomic, socioeconomic, and governance gains on the continent. African leaders including trade ministers highlighted key issues and requests during the summit, with some of them being the African Growth and Opportunity Act preferences to be extended for more than 10 years with fewer conditionalities, which guarantees certainty.

Also raised was for the extension to be made earlier to prevent any disruptions to trade; AGOA to include all African countries, since this is important for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AICTFA), integration and industrialisation, including boosting regional and continental value chains.

According to reports from the summit, top US officials and their counterparts in Africa further agreed that American law giving about three dozen nations duty-free access to the world’s biggest economy for almost 7 000 products needs updating and stronger implementation.

The African trade ministers also indicated that the unilateral tariff preferences in AGOA are welcome but without creating an environment that promotes investment, nations are unable to take advantage of the opportunity.

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