July 14, 2024

Katherine Tai, U.S. Trade Representative, to Attend 20th U.S.-Sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum in Johannesburg

Katherine Tai
Katherine Tai

The Office of the United States Trade Representative has confirmed that Katherine Tai, the United States Trade Representative, will be embarking on a significant journey to Johannesburg, South Africa, from October 31, 2023, to November 4, 2023. Her visit is in connection with the 20th U.S.-Sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation (AGOA) Forum.

The AGOA Forum serves as a pivotal platform for the United States and AGOA-eligible countries to engage in discussions about trade and investment, bringing together representatives from various sectors including government officials, regional economic organizations, private sector stakeholders, civil society members, and labor representatives. The primary objective of this forum is to strengthen trade and investment ties between the United States and sub-Saharan Africa while promoting sustainable and inclusive economic growth and development in the region.

Ambassador Tai’s agenda in Johannesburg includes meetings with senior government officials from AGOA-eligible countries. She will also engage in discussions with Reuben Brigety, the United States Ambassador to South Africa.

During her visit, Ambassador Tai will play a prominent role as she co-chairs the AGOA Forum on November 3 and delivers remarks during the opening ceremony. The opening ceremony will be accessible to pre-approved members of the press until 10:20 AM. Additionally, she will provide keynote remarks during Plenary I and offer remarks during the trade ministers meeting. Both the plenary session and the trade ministers meeting will be closed to the press.

On November 4, Ambassador Tai will participate in the closing ceremony, which will be open to pre-approved members of the press.

It’s worth noting that the United States and AGOA-eligible countries had previously convened in December 2022 when Ambassador Tai hosted sub-Saharan African trade ministers and senior officials in Washington, D.C. for a Ministerial Meeting during the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. A joint statement released by Ambassador Tai and South African Minister of Trade, Industry, and Competition, Ebrahim Patel, announced the forthcoming AGOA Forum.

This gathering holds significant importance in the context of ongoing efforts to enhance economic cooperation between the United States and sub-Saharan Africa. It is expected to garner considerable attention and interest from various stakeholders on both sides.

In a related development, the African Development Bank and Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), in collaboration with the United States and the European Union, have pledged their support for the development of the Lobito Corridor and the new Zambia-Lobito rail line. This commitment was formalized through the signing of a seven-side Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the margins of the Global Gateway Forum in Brussels, Belgium.

The MoU outlines the shared intentions of the signatories to collaborate across multiple sectors to unlock the full economic potential of the Lobito Corridor. This initiative builds upon the Lobito Corridor Transit Transport Facilitation Agency agreement, previously signed by the governments of Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Zambia in January. The project will also benefit from substantial investments aimed at developing the Zambia-Lobito greenfield rail line, representing one of the most significant transport infrastructure developments on the African continent, with support from the United States.

The Lobito Corridor and Zambia-Lobito rail line project align with the objectives of the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGI), a key initiative of President Biden. The PGI seeks to provide credible alternatives to low- and middle-income countries worldwide to help address their infrastructure needs. The development of this significant multi-country transport infrastructure project, designed to adhere to the highest international standards concerning labor, environment, and quality, serves as a centerpiece of the PGI’s flagship economic development corridor.

Following the signing of the MoU, the Africa Finance Corporation will work collaboratively with all parties involved to initiate feasibility studies and preparatory work essential for the successful implementation of this extensive infrastructure project. These critical steps are expected to commence before the end of the year.

The signing ceremony in Brussels featured prominent representatives from each party involved: Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Investment Amos Hochstein represented the United States, Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen represented the European Union, Minister of State for Economic Coordination José de Lima Massano represented Angola, Prime Minister Jean-Michel Lukonde represented the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Minister of Finance and National Planning Situmbeko Musokotwane represented Zambia, Vice President Solomon Quaynor represented the African Development Bank, and Board Member and Head of Financial Services Sanjeev Gupta represented the Africa Finance Corporation.

This momentous development aims to enhance regional trade, stimulate economic growth, and advance the vision of a connected, open-access rail network stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Indian Ocean, bolstering regional connectivity and economic prosperity.

In another development, the Troika, composed of Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States, has expressed its welcome and support for the recent gathering of Sudanese civilian actors and stakeholders in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The meeting, which took place this week, is seen as a crucial step toward establishing an inclusive and representative pro-democracy civilian front in Sudan.

The Troika underscored the significance of this meeting as a testament to the Sudanese people’s dedication to realizing a democratic future for their nation. Despite the ongoing conflict, this gathering brought together a diverse group of Sudanese civilian actors, including representatives from historically marginalized groups and regions, Resistance Committees, trade unions, professional associations, civil society organizations, political parties, new initiatives, and independent national figures. The outcome of the meeting included a collective commitment to convene a larger gathering in the coming months, with broader representation from Sudan.

Sudanese civilians continue to convene both within Sudan and in neighboring regions to engage in discussions about their political future. The Troika encouraged these efforts, emphasizing the importance of finding common ground and forming a robust pro-democracy civilian front. Such a front could initiate a process to address transitional and governance challenges and seek a national consensus to urge the warring parties to cease hostilities, thereby facilitating urgently needed humanitarian assistance. Establishing a transitional civilian government following the conflict is vital to resuming Sudan’s democratic progress. Achieving this goal necessitates the active participation of Sudanese individuals from all walks of life and regions of the country.

The Troika also condemned the ongoing violence in Sudan, which has resulted in tragic loss of life across the nation. They emphasized the need for continued international support and attention to Sudan’s situation. The Troika countries are among the largest donors providing assistance to the Sudanese people, with a focus on enabling diverse communities to play meaningful roles in building Sudan’s democratic future.

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