FAS Acting Administrator Suzanne Heinen To Attend AGOA Forum

WASHINGTON, June 8, 2011 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) Acting Administrator Suzanne Heinen will represent USDA at the 10th annual U.S.-Sub-Saharan African Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum in Lusaka, Zambia, from June 9-10, 2011.

“The African Growth and Opportunity Act benefits both the United States and Sub-Saharan African countries,” said Heinen. “Its purpose is to expand trade and investment between the United States and the 37 AGOA countries.  This is working, but more needs to be done. With the International Monetary Fund predicting Sub-Saharan African GDP growth of over 5 percent this year and next year, now is the time for U.S. agribusinesses to develop trade and investment relationships with African companies.” 

While in Zambia, Heinen will make opening remarks at a plenary session highlighting the need for transparent, science-based trade regimes to increase trade of agricultural products and enhance food security on the continent. She is expected to meet with several Ministers of Agriculture attending the forum. Heinen will also meet with African women entrepreneurs on June 8 at the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program. Included on the agenda as well, a visit to the USDA-funded Land O’Lakes local and regional food aid procurement pilot project that is providing monthly food baskets of locally produced commodities to targeted households affected by HIV/AIDS. The goal of the project is to reduce the food insecurity of vulnerable populations while building the capacity of local farmers, millers, and processors to supply commodities for food assistance and food safety-net programs.

Under AGOA, two-way trade in agricultural, fish, and forest products reached $3.4 billion last year. For the United States, every $1 billion in farm exports supports roughly 8,400 jobs here at home. Strong trade with partners continues to be a key contributor to building an economy that continues to grow, innovate and out-compete the rest of the world. Exports of U.S. farm goods in fiscal year 2011 are projected to surpass previous records by $20 billion. 

AGOA provides trade preferences to countries that are making progress in implementing economic, legal and human rights reforms by allowing the majority of African agricultural and non-agricultural products to enter the U.S. market duty-free.

The USDA already works with AGOA countries in several different ways. Among them, conducting trade-capacity building and technical assistance with African Ministries of Agriculture and national institutions to enhance AGOA countries’ ability to trade with the United States and other countries. The USDA also provides educational and research opportunities to policymakers, private sector representatives, scientists and researchers, and university professors in areas such as regulatory systems, food safety, trade, policy development, and technology. Finally, the U.S. Department of Agriculture offers food assistance through the Food for Progress and the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Programs. For more information about all of these programs, visit www.fas.usda.gov.

The AGOA Forum is an annual event mandated by the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which was signed into law by President Clinton in May 2000 to expand U.S. trade and investment with Sub-Saharan Africa. The forum allows officials from AGOA-eligible countries and officials from the United States to review implementation of AGOA, as well as chart new ways forward in building closer ties between the United States and Sub-Saharan Africa. In addition to the government-to-government Ministerial meetings, the forum includes meetings of the U.S. and African private sectors and civil society.

Further information about the AGOA Forum is available at http://www.fas.usda.gov/icd/agoa/

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