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US plans new trade, investment deal with ECOWAS

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Ambassador Demetrios Marantis - Acting US Trade RepresentativeThe United States has hinted of plans to explore new opportunities to boost trade and investment with West Africa.

Acting US Trade Representative, Demetrios Marantis, on March 29, 2013 said the US is looking at the possibility of a new Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Mr Marantis made the announcement during a visit to Washington by four African leaders – President Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone, President Macky Sall of Senegal, President Joyce Banda of Malawi, and Prime Minister Neves of Cape Verde.

Sierra Leone, Senegal, and Cape Verde are all ECOWAS Member States.

“A Trade and Investment Framework Agreement with the Economic Community of West African States can significantly contribute to economic growth and increased international competitiveness on both sides of the Atlantic. I welcome the support that visiting Heads of State from Cape Verde, Senegal, and Sierra Leone have given to the idea of this proposed new partnership,” said Ambassador Marantis, according to a statement issued by his office.

Officials say if the new TIFA is concluded, it would help support American jobs by creating opportunities for US companies interested in doing business in West Africa, and would assist in addressing impediments to US trade and investment in the region.

The statement adds “It would also provide a forum for discussion of topics relevant to economic integration efforts in West Africa.”

The US Trade Representative Office indicated that the proposed US-ECOWAS TIFA would build on the US Strategy Toward sub-Saharan Africa which recognizes trade and investment as a critical engine for broad economic growth.

The US has TIFAs with four African regional economic organizations – the East African Community (EAC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU/UEMOA), and the Southern African Customs Union (SACU).

Also the US has eight bilateral TIFA partners in sub-Saharan Africa – Angola, Ghana, Liberia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, and South Africa.

The US says it has been using these bilateral and regional TIFAs to support regional integration, encourage greater two-way trade and investment, build capacity in the African private sector, and help support American jobs and opportunities for US businesses in Africa.

By Ekow Quandzie

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