A high-powered delegation of business people will visit the East African region in October next year.
The mission will be in the six nation bloc to seek new and potential trade and investment opportunities.
This was revealed here early this week by a senior US embassy official during a visit to the East African Business Council (EABC) offices.
“We want to re-engage the East African Community (EAC) bloc in a two-day trade,” said Ken Walsh, a senior commercial attache.
He stressed, however, that the focus of the mission will be investment opportunities in the agri-business sector.
He added that the EAC bloc was still benefiting from preferential market access to the US under Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa).
According to the International Trade Centre (ITC), in 2019 EAC exported goods valued at $704 million to the US against $1.124 billion imports.
The value slightly declined to $681,299 (exports) and $963,010 for imports last year due to disruptions by Covid-19. “Our business delegation that will visit East Africa will learn more about the investment opportunities,” he said.
He added that his country, the world’s strongest economy, was keen on trade partnership with the EAC.
In 2015, for instance, the US and EAC signed agreements on trade facilitation, sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) as well as a halt to technical barriers to trade.
Lately the EAC has initiated negotiations on the EAC-US Investment Treaty and inaugurated a commercial dialogue on the same.
EABC executive director John Bosco Kalisa called for the extension of Agoa and kick start the negotiations for the EAC-US free trade area agreement “in order to attract more investments into the region”.
He specifically cited Agoa’s effort to integrate the EAC bloc’s apparel sector into the global value chains.
Since its enactment in 2000, Agoa has been at the core of US economic policy and commercial engagement with Africa.
The facility provides eligible sub-Saharan African countries with duty-free access to the US market for over 1,800 products, in addition to the more than 5,000 products that are eligible for duty-free access under the Generalized System of Preferences program.
By providing new market opportunities, Agoa has helped bolster economic growth, promoted economic and political reform, and improved US economic relations in the region.
Some 38 countries are eligible for Agoa benefits in 2020. In 2015, Congress passed legislation modernizing and extending the program to 2025.