By Tsehaye Debalkew, Washington DC,, August 02, 2013
Tigrai Online - A half-day session of Africa- US joint briefing Session on AGOA /African Growth and Opportunity Act/ was held this morning with the active participation of the Ambassadors of African eligible countries and the African Union Mission to the USA and high ranking US officials representing Departments of State and Commerce and the office of the US Trade Representative for Africa.
The meeting during its opening session was updated on the preparations of the upcoming 12th AGOA meeting to convene in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia being the current Chair to host the plenum.
In a key note remark he made during the opening session of the Confab, Ambassador Girma Birru, Special Envoy and Ambassador Extra-ordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Democratic Republic of Ethiopia to the US and non-resident Ambassador to Canada and Mexico, who is the current Chairman of AGOA Ambassadors' Forum highlighted the salient steps already taken by the Ethiopian government to ensure the successful convocation of the12th AGOA annual meeting.
In this regard he apprised the Afro-US Joint session that the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, in association with the United States Government, will host the 2013 U.S.-Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum, aka, the AGOA Forum, from August 09-13, 2013 at the African Union Commission Conference Centre in Addis Ababa.
The Special envoy exuded with confidence that Ethiopia has made the necessary preparations and hope this 12th Forum will be one of the best Forums so far.
Alluding to the activities envisioned to take place, Ambassador Girma revealed that the Ministerial Forum which will be held from August 12 to 13 is expected to bring together Senior Government officials of the US and Ministers of 39 AGOA eligible countries. The Ministerial-level event will include a high level dialogue on the implementation of AGOA and the future of US- Africa trade and economic relations, according to the Ethiopian Envoy.
The Forum will be preceded by programs for the Private Sector, Civil Society and Africa Women Entrepreneurs Program (AWEP), he underlined. The Ambassador went on to add that the above cited side events will be co-hosted by US counterparts. " Notable is the Corporate Council of Africa which will co-organize the private sector program along with the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Associations", he accentuated . It was learnt form Ambassador Girma's briefing that there will be a US-Africa Trade Exhibition to take place as a side event at the Forum.
The theme of this year’s AGOA Forum is “Sustainable Transformation through Trade and Technology”, Ambassador Girma reiterated. In reference to the focus of the upcoming AGOA meeting in Addis Ababa, he underscored that the Forum aims at encouraging dialogue on facilitating the transfer of technology through trade by enhancing the relationship between US and AGOA-eligible SSA countries.
The Special Envoy expressed optimism by saying that "the theme captures our aspirations of creating an opportunity for the transformation of the export products of eligible countries from primary to value added products and to meaningfully and effectively utilize the AGOA market access opportunity for their economic growth."
He gave the entire picture of the efforts made so far by stating, many meetings have been held with respective stakeholders at different times. Regular consultations have taken place with the Inter-Agency team of the US Government to exchange updates on the progress of the different facets of the preparation.
Consultation was also made with the advance mission of the US Government that had made a visit to Addis Ababa from April 8-12, 2013 to assess the preparation which had helped both sides to reach a mutual understanding on the substance and logistical aspects of the conduct of the Forum, he enumerated.
A series of consultations with the Embassies of AGOA eligible countries based in Washington DC have also been conducted, he substantiated.
Flori Liser, Assistant US Trade Representative for Africa, John Anderson, Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce, Amy Baukol, Deputy Assistant Secretary at the Department of US Treasury and Amy Holman, Director, Office of Economic policy, Africa Bureau, Department of State also gave highlights that their respective departments and off ices are poised to play for the success of the upcoming AGOA confab and the partnership of that the American government injects to boost African Trade with a sustained policy of engagement.
By the end of the remarks made by the Chair and the US officials an open question and answer time was availed that invited the African Ambassadors to express their views.
After the conclusion of the Africa-US Joint Session a meeting of the Ambassadors' Group of AGOA eligible Countries designated to the US resumed and held a brief discussion on draft agenda for the SOM and Ministerial Consultations.