Tuesday, 3 August 2010

ZAMBIA ASSUMES AGOA FORUM CHAIRMANSHIP

Felix Mutati
Zambia has taken over the Africa Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA) forum for the next one year following an African Ministerial Consultative Group meeting held in Washington DC.
Passing over the Chairmanship to Zambia’s Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry Felix Mutati, Out-going AGOA Chairperson who is also the Kenyan minister of Trade Amos Muhinga Kimunya pledged his country’s unflinching support and cooperation for a successful tenure.
This is according to a press release signed by First Secretary of Press at the Zambian Embassy in the United States, Ben Kangwa.
Speaking at the Ministerial opening ceremony on behalf of the Ministerial Consultative Group, Mr Mutati reiterated the importance of AGOA in promoting trade and economic development in Sub-Saharan Africa.
He stated that Africa is a continent with significant potential for the US market and offers greater financial returns more so that it was seeing its strongest economic growth since the late 1970s.
“Africa is no longer the same today as before-It is a continent that is reach in natural resources and has a highly cost reflective labour base. Let us kill this negative myth for it to develop”, he said.
The Minister also said that Africa had shown greatest improvement and taken the biggest steps in reducing corruption in 38 countries, introduced business reforms as well as stabilized exchange rates over the past decade.
He emphasised the need that AGOA should be viewed as a partnership between the US and Sub-Saharan Africa in order to promote trade and development.
The Forum is an annual event mandated by the AGOA, which was signed into law by former United States (US) President Bill Clinton in May 2000 to expand trade and investment with the Sub-Saharan Africa.
It allows eligible countries’ officials to review the implementation of AGOA, as well as exploring new ways for the future in order to enhance and strengthen trade integration  and make smooth commerce activities between the United States and Sub-Saharan Africa.
And the Zambian Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry took part in plenary session with the US Trade Representative Ambassador Ron Kirk in a discussion entitled “New Strategies for Expanding US Sub-Saharan African Trade”.
The session explored new strategies to reduce barrier, creation of new trade opportunities and the strengthening of US-African trade within the context of the changing global trading environment.
Sheila Siwela
Mr Mutati and his delegation which included Zambia’s Ambassador to the US Sheila Siwela also held two bilateral meetings with Ambassador Ron Kirk and officials from the US Trade Representatives and afterward with the Assistant Secretary of Bureau of African Affairs at the US Department of State Ambassador Johnnie Carson.
Meanwhile, Zambia’s Ambassador to the USA, Sheila Siwela said this year’s AGOA Forum offered a great platform for the Zambian delegation to engage with American decision makers and their private sector in developing productive business networks based on mutual understanding.
“It will be a great opportune time to enhance personal business contacts between Zambia and the USA in order to try and jump start trade and investment between the two countries”, she added.
ZANIS

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