LOME, TOGO, United States Trade Representative (USTR) Robert E. Lighthizer has affirmed the commitment of the US to Africa and sees “great potential to grow and deepen the trade relationship”.

In his opening speech to the ministerial plenary of the 16th Forum of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) here Wednesday, he added: “The United States is committed to Africa. We see great potential to grow and deepen our trade relationship, with the goal of establishing a true partnership for the future.

“By lowering barriers and tackling other constraints that impede trade and investment, we are poised to see U.S.-Africa trade flourish.” However, he stressed that “much more work needs to be done” to realize these gains.

Under the AGOA, eligible sub-Saharan African countries are offered duty-free access for about 6,500 products to the market of the

He urged African partners to work for deeper commercial engagement as he mentioned changes in Africa and the implementation of reciprocal trade agreements by some African partners with economies which compete with the US.

“The Africa of today is not the Africa of 17 years ago. We live in a changing world and much has changed in Africa over this period”, he said. As illustration, Lighthizer reported that the United States is importing over one billion dollars in luxury automobiles from Sub-Saharan Africa annually.

“Meanwhile, some AGOA partners are implementing reciprocal trade agreements with major developed economies that compete with the United States,” he said. “So let us focus on ways we can achieve deeper commercial engagement now, while working towards greater reciprocity in the future to ensure that sustained political support for our trade relationship goes forward.”

Lighthizer assured that these issues and opportunities should be discussed further during sessions that are being held in closed-door meetings. He expressed his confidence on shared successful discussions as follows: “Together, we can create a better business environment and chart a path toward a stronger and more sustainable trade relationship for the future.”

The 16th AGOA Forum is being held under the theme, “The United States and Africa: Partnering for Prosperity through Trade.”