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Commissioner Acyl Participates in the 2016 AGOA Mid-Term Review and in the World Bank/IMF Spring Meetings

By African Union Commission (AUC)
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The Commissioner for Trade and Industry of the African Union Commission (AUC), H.E. Mrs. Fatima Haram Acyl, participated on April 11-12, 2016 in the annual African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) Mid-Term Review, organized by the African Union Mission to the U.S.

The 2016 AGOA Mid-Term Review was mainly focused on the effective implementation of AGOA, the development of strategies for its utilization, and the importance of sustained capacity building for eligible countries. It served also as a platform to efficiently prepare for the forthcoming AGOA Forum, which will take place in Washington, DC this year. In addition to AGOA eligible countries, the meeting saw the participation of the African Union Commission, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the African Development Bank and the World Bank. The second day was devoted to consultations with the U.S. side comprising of representatives of the U.S. Government, U.S. Congressional Staff, the US Private Sector, Think Tanks and Civil Society.

In her opening remarks at the Mid-Term Review meeting, the Commissioner for Trade and Industry emphasized the importance of focusing vigorously on the implementation of AGOA following its reauthorization in order to achieve maximum results. Commissioner Acyl indicated that AGOA eligible countries should reflect on their previous performance under the initial 15 years to identify weaknesses, lessons learnt and devise appropriate actions that can be integrated into their national strategies. She also emphasized the importance of taking full cognizance of the latest developments regarding continental initiatives particularly the launch of the Continental Free Trade Area and the need to promote continental interests.

The Mid-Term Review was a timely occasion for the Commissioner to brief the African Union Ambassadors on the transformational vision of the Continent, Agenda 2063, and its 10 year implementation plan as well as on the strategic importance of realizing the Continental Free Trade Area to better advance African economic priorities in a landscape characterized by mega regional trade agreements.

The Ambassadors Group seized the opportunity to thank the Commissioner for Trade and Industry for her invaluable and instrumental role in lobbying for the reauthorization of AGOA.

Commissioner Acyl also addressed the 2nd Annual AGOA Civil Society Organization Network Spring Conference on April 15, 2016 at the World Bank Headquarters during a panel devoted to trade and private sector expansion as a vehicle for economic growth and improved standards of living in Africa with a special focus on Agenda 2063.

Commissioner Acyl further participated in the 2016 World Bank/IMF Spring Meetings with H.E. Mr. Erastus Mwencha, Deputy Chairperson, who led the African Union Commission delegation. A series of meetings were held with the World Bank leadership and senior experts devoted to the strong partnership between the AU and the World Bank and the latter's support to the continent, particularly to its economic transformation and diversification agenda. In this particular regard, the meetings held with Mr. Makhtar Diop, the World Bank's Vice President for Africa and the Trade and Competitiveness team of the Bank provided important opportunities to examine the ways and means to take this strategic partnership to the next level.

Finally, the Commissioner for Trade and Industry participated in a working session with Ambassador Michael Froman, the US Trade Representative, chaired by the AUC Deputy Chairperson, .E. Mr. Erastus Mwencha, that was devoted to AGOA's utilization, Africa global competitiveness, its capacity to take advantage of tariff preferences, the development of sectoral approaches and the role of regional economic communities to enhance AGOA utilization.