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Thursday’s signing of the Cooperation Agreement between the United States and the East African Community (EAC) – a regional bloc comprised of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi – is a major relationship milestone.
The agreement centers on building trade capacity in the EAC nations on three issues of importance to the private sector:
- Trade Facilitation
- Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures
- Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT)
The agreement shows that the United States and EAC nations are on the same page in terms of the path forward to building local economic growth and further encouraging foreign direct investment in the region. The work tackled after the signing of this agreement will benefit all businesses in the EAC – both local and foreign.
The EAC nations already have a strong track record of commitment to greater connectivity and efficiencies in the region. Regulatory reforms and regional integration are being driven in concert from the five heads of state. Their self-imposed targets for enactment of their priorities are being met, and regional infrastructure projects, such as the Northern Corridor, are well underway.
The Cooperation Agreement sends a clear signal to the U.S. and other foreign business that East Africa is serious about attracting investment, raising the economic standard in the region, and making it easier to do business. The commitment of the EAC to be an economic leader and a serious competitor for FDI in Africa is clear.
The launch of this work will strengthen the EAC’s trade relationship with the United States and other global partners, and it moves us toward the next logical step in the relationship ― a permanent investment treaty between the U.S. and EAC states.