Government and private sector representatives from the US have gathered in Ethiopia for the largest meeting, the 10th US-Africa Business Summit. Over 1200 business representatives, government officials, entrepreneurs, investors, decision makers and managers from Africa, US, China and Turkey attended the event.
The government of Ethiopia has used the event as an opportunity to promote the country’s investment potential, while US companies promoted their businesses via an exhibition held at UNECA.
On his opening speech, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn stated that the government of Ethiopia has provided an attractive framework and stimulating incentives intended to attract foreign business and investment in the country.
The trade link between Africa and US is close to USD 48 billion and growing. Ethiopian imports from US reached USD 1.5 billion in 2015, which was USD 150 million about two decades ago, according to Solomon Afework, President of Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Association.
Aircraft, engine and telecommunication equipments, and other manufacturing products are the major import items from the biggest economy in the world.
Similarly, Ethiopia’s agricultural exports to the US have grown; in 2015 exports were worth USD 300 million in 2015 from USD 35 million in 1995.
The chamber’s president appreciated the ten-year extension of the Africa Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) and urged Ethiopian traders to take advantage of the act that provides African countries duty free export privileges.
The Barak Obama administration has initiated several business promotion activities and also hosted the US African leaders’ summit that emphasized the importance of increasing US Africa trade and investment in Africa.
The US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, reaffirmed the US’ commitment to African governments but added that “African governments must also provide enabling environment such as stability and attractive investment climate.”
She also spoke on access to electricity, the Electrify Africa Act, ratified a day before the opening of the business forum on Tuesday. The bill will provide a framework for a major public-private partnership between the United States and sub-Saharan African countries to help millions of people gain access to reliable electricity. It is in line with President Obama’s initiative, Power Africa, which aims to expand access to electricity in the world’s poorest continent.