Tuesday, July 1, 2014

African Union sponsors AGOA retreat for Washington diplomatic corps

On July 2 and 3, the African Union Mission to the United States will host a retreat for African diplomats based in Washington, D.C., to discuss prospects for renewal of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

Held at the Bolger Center in the Washington suburb of Potomac, Maryland, the two-day event will feature several panel discussions, presentations, white papers, and open-ended conversations about AGOA's past successes and failures and what the future holds for U.S.-African trade relations.

The opening panel on the morning of July 2 will be moderated by Tanzanian Ambassador Liberata Mulamula, with remarks by Ambassador Amina S. Ali of the African Union Mission, the AU's commissioner for trade and industry, Mrs. Fatima Haram Acyl, and Ethiopian Ambassador Girma Birru, who also chairs the AGOA Consultative Group.

The second panel of the day is called "Reauthorization of AGOA: The State of Play, Challenges, and Opportunities." The moderator will be Ambassador Girma, with a presentation by Botswana's Ambassador Tebelelo Mazile Seretse and a white paper read by Jane Karonga, a program management officer at the African Trade Policy Center and the Regional Integration and Trade Division of UNECA (United Nations Economic Commission for Africa). The panel will also include a presentation on strategies for the reauthorization of AGOA by South African Ambassador Ibrahim Rasool.

After lunch on Wednesday, there will be a discussion led by Moono Mupotola, division manager for NEPAD Regional Integration & Trade Department at the African Development Bank (AfDB) on the topic, "The African Development Bank: Its Role in Supporting U.S.-African Trade and in Advocating the Renewal of AGOA." The discussion about this paper will be moderated by Zambian Ambassador Palan Mulonda.

That panel will be followed by a discussion with the unwieldy subject "the Implications of the Multilateral Trade Negotiations and Regional Agreements on the Process of AGOA Reauthorization." Professor Molapi Sebatane, ambassador of the Kingdom of Lesotho, will moderate the conversation, which will include a presentation about the European Union's economic partnership agreements (EPAs) by Namibia's ambassador in Brussels, Hanno Berkhard Rumpf.

The day's events will close with a discussion about the next AGOA Forum, moderated by Senegalese Ambassador Cheikh Niang.

The second day will begin with presentations by U.S. government officials, moderated by South African Ambassador Rasool, followed by presentations by U.S. congressional staff members from the Senate Finance Committee and House Ways and Means Committee. That second panel will be moderated by Malawian Ambassador Steve Matenje.

The post-lunch panel will include presentations from various private sector organizations, including think tanks and representatives of the African diaspora. Cameroonian Ambassador Joseph B.C. Foe-Atangana will moderate.

The day will close with a summing-up conversation moderated by the Ambassador of Mozambique, Mrs. Amelia Matos Sumbana, and farewell remarks by Commissioner Fatima Haram Acyl.