Corporate Council on Africa and the U.S. Mission to the African Union hosted the U.S.-Africa Trade and Investment Forum on the sidelines of the African Union (AU) Summit in Addis Ababa on February 11-12, 2019. The Forum is designed to be a high-level event geared towards supporting private sector engagement on the AfCFTA and driving greater U.S.-Africa trade, investment, and business engagement.
The Forum – linked to the AU and the broader African continental and global trade agenda – will complement the AU Summit by engaging the private sector – both African and U.S. – and will fill an important void. Currently, the AU runs an African Continental Free Trade Business Forum for African companies, and the EU has held six EU-African Business Forums. Africa is an important economic partner of the United States, yet there is no continent-wide event with American businesses and the AU, despite the leading role that American companies play as major investors in Africa's fastest-growing economies and sectors
The Forum aimed to:
- Provide a platform for a public and private sector dialogue among U.S. and African government officials and private sector leaders
- Expand opportunities for partnerships between businesses from the United States and Africa through meeting facilitation
- Create an avenue for U.S. and African businesses to engage on and support the implementation of the AfCFTA
- Explore the future of U.S.-Africa trade and investment relationship,the final years of AGOA, the implications of the new U.S.-Africa strategy and the potential impact of the proposed free trade agreements (FTAs).
- Support and facilitate CCA members' interests on the continent
Briefing journalists, U.S Ambassador to the African Union, Mary Beth Leonard, recalled the long history of trade ties between the United States and Africa and expressed the desire to further deepen them.
She added that the African Continental Free Trade Agreement has become a reality and is a real game changer for the way that international and U.S business looks this continent by creating more opportunity to both.
President and CEO of Corporate Council on Africa, Florizelle Liser, said on “we have a stake in supporting African regional integration in creating larger market and businesses that allow them to take advantage of economies of scale and to draw Africa into regional and global value chains.”
A lot is happening here in Ethiopia and the export range products to the US market is an example to what Africa can do and is doing across the continent, she added.
AU Trade and Industry Commissioner, Albert Muchanga said work is underway to develop regional value and supply chains as well as creating more stable and predictable policy framework to guide business decision and strategies on investing and trading in Africa.
He pointed out that work is advancing on liberalization of trade in goods and services as well as establishment of a payment and settlement platform that will give operational content to the agreement coming into force.
“Through the African Continental Free Trade Area, we are offering large economies of scale and scope to the private sector,” he said, adding that the content trade liberalization and continental integration gives the incentives to invest in larger scale and longer period.
Some forty-nine countries have signed the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, and 18 of the 22 needed to bring it into force have already ratified it.
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The leadership of the Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PACCI) elected Youssouf Moussa Dawaleh, last Friday as its new president, replacing Nana Dr. Appiagyei Dankawoso I from Ghana, whose tenure expired. Friday’s successful election was hard fought with four Chamber of Commerce leaders vying for the presidency.
Those elected as members of the Executive Council include Engineer Melaku Ezezew (Ethiopia), Farman Toure (Cote d”Ivoire), Dr. Appiagyei Dankawoso I, Olivier Bastienne (Seychelles), Prince Adetokunbo Kayode (Nigeria), Jean Ibombot (Congo), Mohamed Drissi (Morocco).
A statement issued late Friday night by the PACCI Executive Director, Kebour Ghenna, said the new leadership took over immediately after announcing the election results.
Mr. Kebour said as per the Executive Council mandate, and in keeping with the By-laws of the PACCI, the 2019/2021 Executive Council will serve from February 1, 2019 to January 31 2021.
PACCI works closely with regional and continental organizations, such as the AUC to act as an effective intermediary between business and trade experts and international and UN trade organizations. PACCI and the Chamber network are active in promoting a range of key business related policy initiatives and in developing concrete activities and projects related to those policies.
While making his opening remarks, President Kagame welcomed to the Assembly, the new leaders of the Democratic Republic of Congo i.e. H.E. Felix Tshisekedi, and of Madagascar, H.E. Andry Rajoelina. President Kagame commended Guinea-Bissau, Botswana, and Zambia for signing the instrument for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) during this Summit, and encouraged those signatories who have not yet ratified to do so, at the earliest opportunity.
Regarding the efforts made towards sustainable financing of the Union, President Kagame remarked that, the relaunched Peace Fund now stands at $89 million dollars, with 50 Member States contributing. “This demonstrates the force of our collective resolve and ability”, he commented.
Today marked the end of Rwanda’s chairpersonship of the Union and President Kagame handed over to President Abdul Fattah Al-Sisi of Egypt during the opening ceremony.
President Abdul Fattah Al-Sisi called for creation of more job opportunities, and encouraged investments. The Chairperson of the African Union emphasized the need to resolve the ongoing challenges in Africa, particularly terrorism and extremism.
On his part while speaking at the opening ceremony, the AUC Chairperson Mr. Moussa Faki Mahamat noted that the Commission is excited to build on the continental priorities under Egypt's leadership. The Chairperson noted progress in democratic practices across the continent. He stated that in all elections in Africa, the Commission has endeavoured to provide the necessary support and to ensure the best possible accompaniment to Member States engaged in often difficult electoral processes. The AUC Chairperson expressed his satisfaction with the recent Peace Agreement and peace-building efforts between the Central African Republic’s Government and armed groups under the umbrella of the African Union.
Talking about the institutional reform of the AU, the Chairperson of the Commission noted steady progress towards financial autonomy and accountability within the Union.”Reform is irreversible”, he said.
The Assembly was addressed by the UN Secretary General António Guterres who remarked that the AU and UN are working together successfully across the continent, with Africa firmly in the lead, and there was a need to do more to strengthen the partnership. Mr. Guterres further stated that “Africa hosts nearly a third of the world’s refugees and internally displaced persons. Despite the continent’s own social, economic and security challenges, Africa’s governments and people have kept borders, doors and hearts open to millions in need”.
Other leaders to address the Assembly included by Mr. Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Secretary General of the League of Arab States and the President of the State of Palestine and the Palestinian National Authority, Mr. Mahmoud Abbas. Invited guests who addressed the meeting were Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, Mr Bill Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Mr. Gianni Infantino, FIFA President.
The results of the election for the Bureau of the Assembly for 2019 were announced as follows:
1. AU Chairperson: Abdul Fattah Al-Sisi, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt;
2. 1st Vice Chairperson: Cyril Ramaphosa, President of the Republic of South Africa;
3. 2nd Vice Chairperson: Félix Tshisekedi, President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo;
4. 3rd Vice Chairperson: Mahamadou Issoufou, President of the Republic of the Niger;
5. 4th Vice Chairperson: Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda (Rapporteur).
The Chairperson of the African Union for 2020 will be H.E. Cyril Ramaphosa, President of the Republic of South Africa.
The Summit was being held under the 2019 theme; “The Year of Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons: Towards Durable Solutions to Forced displacement in Africa”.
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President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Côte d'Ivoire.
Vice President of the Chambre de Commerce, d'Industrie, d'Agriculture et des Metiers de Brazzaville
Morocco Chamber of Commerce
President of Seychelles Chamber of Commerce and Industry
President of the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry