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U.S. Looking to Deepen Trade Ties with Africa

Tuesday, April 02, 2013
By Shawn McCausland
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative reports that on March 29 the U.S. proposed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement with the Economic Community of West African States. ECOWAS comprises Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.

A USTR press release states that a TIFA would create opportunities for U.S. companies interested in doing business in West Africa, assist in addressing impediments to U.S. trade and investment in the region, and provide a forum for discussion of topics relevant to economic integration efforts in West Africa. It would also build on the U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa, which “recognizes trade and investment as a critical engine for broad economic growth” and calls for more enhanced and focused engagement on these issues.

It is also clear that the U.S. sees the proposed TIFA with ECOWAS as a way to strengthen its economic involvement in the region at a time when competitors, especially China, have been making significant inroads. USTR notes that the U.S. already has TIFAs in place with four African regional economic organizations (the East African Community, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, the West African Economic and Monetary Union and the Southern African Customs Union) as well as with eight individual countries (Angola, Ghana, Liberia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda and South Africa) and has been using these agreements to “support regional integration, encourage greater two-way trade and investment, build capacity in the African private sector, and help support American jobs and opportunities for U.S. businesses in Africa.”

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