Biden administration takes new steps to strengthen trade and economic ties with Africa

The Biden administration on Tuesday took new steps to strengthen trade and economic ties with Africa.

Katherine Tai 
Katherine Tai

The engagement between the new U.S. administration, which came to office about seven months ago, and Africa, has mainly focused on defeating the coronavirus pandemic and advocating for democracy and human rights, including in Ethiopia where a lingering conflict in the Tigray region has put hundreds of thousands of people at an increased risk of famine.

However, in the past two months, the administration has been broadening its engagement to include trade and economic cooperation with the African continent at a time of intense competition from China, Russia and the European Union.

On Tuesday, the United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai met virtually with the Trade Advisory Committee on Africa (TACA).

The United States Trade Representative established the Trade Advisory Committee on Africa to provide advice on issues involving trade and development regarding the countries of Sub-Saharan Africa, including negotiating objectives and bargaining positions before entering into trade agreements.

Members of the advisory committee listed on USTR website include some of the biggest names in U.S. trade and economic sphere.

They are Jack Edlow, President, Edlow International Company; Sharon T. Freeman, President, the All American Small Business Exporters Association; Fred Humphries, Vice President of U.S. Government Affairs, Microsoft; Mr. Stuart Kerr, Africa Practice Coordinator, Jones Day; Jeffrey Krilla,Vice President for Global Public Policy and Government Affairs, Kosmos Energy; Katrin Kuhlmann, President and Founder, New Markets Lab; Stephen Lamar, President and CEO, American Apparel & Footwear Association; Ben Lambert, International Advocacy Manager, Caterpillar; Ike Nwabuonwu, Chairman and CEO, Alpha Energy and Electric, Inc.; Rev. Akua Ofori-Boateng, Country Manager, ILF Consulting Engineers; Eliot Pence, Senior Director Africa Practice, McLarty Associates ; J.B. Penn, Chief Economist, Deere & Company; Ambassador Robin Sanders, President, FE3DS; Marysue Shore, President, Global Business Strategies; Ambassador John Simon, Founding Partner, Total Impact Investors; Wayne Sprauve, Chairman & CEO, African Premier Airlines ; Paul Sullivan, Senior Vice President – International, Acrow Bridge; Olowo-n’djo Tchala, CEO, Alaffia; Kendal Tyre, Partner, Nixon Peabody, and Craig Owen White, Partner, Hahn Loeser Law Firm.

Ambassador Tai underscored USTR’s commitment to building a strong trade and economic partnership with the African continent and shared her principles for worker-centered, inclusive trade and discussed the United States’ effort to deliver millions of vaccine doses to members of the African Union that will help the continent defeat the pandemic, said a USTR statement.

The statement added that the discussion also touched upon U.S. trade tools, the key role of the African Diaspora, and increasing engagement with micro-, small, and medium-sized (MSME) businesses.

Tai pledged to continue working with the committee to develop policies that will further strengthen U.S.-African economic relations and deliver sustainable, broad-based economic growth.

It was not her first meeting. Ambassador Tai has previously met several USTR advisory committees, including the Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee, the Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee, and the Industry Trade Advisory Committees.​​​​

Whether those meetings will translate into concrete actions remain to be seen.

Chief White House Correspondent for

Simon Ateba is Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa. Simon covers President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, the U.S. government, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions in Washington D.C. and New York City.

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