“In addition to the increase in GDP and trade figures, [Africa`s continental free trade area] is making a very practical contribution to creating jobs for young and growing Africans,” vera Songwe, ECA executive secretary, said in an interview with Africa Renewal. The free trade area can only enter into force if all protocols from at least 22 countries are finalized and ratified. U.S. President Donald J. Trump announced today that the United States will begin negotiations on trade agreements with the Republic of Kenya after a meeting at the White House with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta. “Kenya is a recognized leader across the continent, an important strategic partner of the United States, and there is enormous potential for us,… The first round of negotiations on the SACU Free Trade Agreement began on 3 June 2003 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Initially, negotiations were to be completed by December 2004, but the deadline was extended to the end of 2006, after negotiations ended at the end of 2004 and the resumption at the end of 2005. Discussions were slow until April 2006, representatives of the United States and SACU decided to suspend the negotiations and begin a long-term joint work programme. On 16 July 2008, USTR Susan Schwab signed an agreement on Trade, Investment and Development Cooperation (TIDCA) with SACU trade ministers. In Kigali, Rwanda, where the framework protocol was signed in March last year, African heads of state and government were optimistic. If – or when – the 55 African countries ratify the free trade area, it would together represent more than $4 trillion in consumer and business spending, and a market size of 1.2 billion people.
Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo told Kigali media: “This is where our salvation lies: trade between them and therefore the development of our economies. This agreement will lead to a change in the perception of the continent by the rest of the world. Trade relations between the United States and Africa are being reorganized – and if AGOA continues to be disrupted or replaced by bilateral free trade agreements, this could be a blow to a number of economies in the region. A possible free trade agreement between the United States and SACU is of interest to Congress, as: (1) Congress must consider ratifying an agreement signed by the parties; (2) whereas the provisions of a free trade agreement may harm U.S. activities in industries competing with imports and employment in these sectors; and (3) a free trade agreement can increase AGOA`s effectiveness and strengthen its implementation. On January 9, 2003, a bipartisan group of 41 representatives wrote to Ambassador Zoellick in support of the start of free trade negotiations with SACU. Whatever its historical significance, much remains to be done before countries can benefit from a free trade area. Countries committed to the agreement are expected to present their timetables for concessions for trade in goods and services by next year. Concession schedules outline products and services that countries will no longer tax. After nearly three years of slow and stagnant negotiations, representatives of U.S. trade representatives and SACU cancelled free trade negotiations in April 2006 for a longer-term trade and investment plan. On 16 July 2008, they signed an agreement on trade, investment and development cooperation (TIDCA), the first of its kind.
TIDCA would be a formal mechanism for the United States and SACU to negotiate trade agreements that could serve as a cornerstone for a future free trade agreement. The agreement will also allow both sides to work on key trade issues, such as trade facilitation, technical barriers, investment promotion and health and plant health standards12 “This is essential, given that services account for about 60% of Africa`s GDP and that, for example, services accounted for 30% of world trade in 2014…. Markets for national services will be open to service providers