Interview: U.S.-Africa summit to widen trade, investment: economist   2014-08-06 01:47:45            

by David Musyoka and Christine Lagat

NAIROBI, Aug. 5 (Xinhua) -- The ongoing U.S.-African leaders' summit in Washington DC presents an opportunity to unlock the immense trade and investment opportunities in the continent, Kenyan economist Bethwel Kinuthia told Xinhua Tuesday.

Kinuthia, an economist at the University of Nairobi, said that a dialogue between African and American leaders was long overdue to re-invigorate trade in goods and services alongside technology transfer.

The U.S. President Barack Obama invited nearly 50 African heads of state and government for a three day summit whose key objective is to revitalize bilateral cooperation in key areas like trade, security, health and agriculture.

Analysts noted that Africa will benefit from renewed interest from economic powerhouses in the Western and Eastern hemisphere.

"What should preoccupy the minds of our policymakers is how we can tap into opportunities offered by industrial giants," Kinuthia said.

African leaders are pushing for a 15 year extension of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) signed by former U.S. President Bill Clinton in 2000 to boost export of the continent's goods in the American market.

Kinuthia stressed that preferential treatment of African goods will boost export earnings, create jobs and accelerate economic growth.

"The extension of AGOA deadline is critical to ensure our agricultural produce has unfettered access to the U.S. market," said Kinuthia.

He warned that failure to extend the AGOA deadline will jeopardize key sectors of the economy like agriculture, manufacturing and mining.

Africa's economic revival has earned recognition from American policymakers and captains of industry.

During their stay in Washington, African leaders will meet business executives from diverse sectors like energy, information technology and transport.

"At this juncture, we should not be obsessed with how many deals our leaders will clinch with American corporations. We require sound and mutual cooperation with investors to propel a shared growth," said Kinuthia.

African countries require capital, technology and expertise from the United States to modernize key sectors of the economy.

Kinuthia noted that countries in Africa could borrow lessons from the sophisticated American industrial sector.

The United States has no capacity to eclipse China and other emerging powers that have established a strong footprint in Sub- Saharan Africa, according to Kinuthia.

Statistics showed that China imported goods worth 88 billion U. S. dollars from Africa in 2013, while the U.S. imports stood at 34. 5 billion dollars in the same year.

China has eclipsed the United States in the provision of concessionary loans to develop local industries and critical infrastructure in the continent.

"We are receiving hefty grants from China and to be honest, both the U.S. and EU have never pumped similar amount. As for now, China is the most important partner," said Kinuthia.

He stressed that while big economies have contrasting vision for Africa, it is upon African leaders to settle for partners whose intentions dovetail with the broader goal of promoting inclusive growth in the continent.

Editor: yan
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