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7-Business: U.S. announces two new agriculture initiatives to aid Africa



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   "'Farmers who once produced enough for themselves are now having to
    face declining productivity,' and with that, the Kenyan [Deputy
    Minister of Trade and Industry] warned, 'they are bound to go into
    forested areas [and] cut down trees to expand their farming. What we
    have seen is accelerated deforestation in most African countries' as
    a result, he said. Syon'goh also called on African farmers to
    'embrace biotechnology' in order to improve productivity by the
    hectare and to make farming a viable occupation."
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-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  U.S. Announces Two New Agriculture Initiatives To Aid Africa
        Agriculture is key discussion topic at African trade forum in Dakar
SOURCE: Washington File, USA, by Charles Corey
        http://usinfo.state.gov/usinfo/Archive/2005/Jul/19-966715.html
DATE:   19 Jul 2005

------------------- archive: http://www.genet-info.org/ -------------------


U.S. Announces Two New Agriculture Initiatives To Aid Africa
Agriculture is key discussion topic at African trade forum in Dakar

Dakar, Senegal -- The United States and the countries of sub-Saharan
Africa have much in common -- all want to see their own economies prosper
and help their agribusinesses succeed in the international marketplace,
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns told the African Growth and
Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum July 19 as he announced two new agriculture
initiatives for Africa.

Johanns told attendees at the Dakar meeting that the U.S. Department of
Agriculture (USDA), in cooperation with the U.S. Agency for International
Development, will develop and implement a trade enhancement program to
help Africa's raw agricultural products enter the global market by
improving the capacity of African producers to meet international plant
and health requirements.

Additionally, he said, USDA will sponsor a trade-and-investment mission
later this year to southern Africa to encourage joint ventures, support
bilateral trade and boost investment in Africa's rich agricultural
sector. More trade and investment missions are planned for other regions
as well in 2006, he said.

USDA, he added, has also been working on a new program to encourage
investment in agricultural processing and is "pushing for all countries
in Africa to take a more active role in the global trade negotiations on
the DOHA Development Agenda."

The Doha Development Agenda, which has been characterized by the U.S.
Department of State as "a once-in-a-generation opportunity to
dramatically reform the rules of world trade, open new markets for goods
and services, and spur economic and political progress throughout the
developing world," was launched in November 2001 at the Fourth
Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Doha,
Qatar. On July 31, 2004, the 147 members of the WTO reached a framework
agreement to reinvigorate the Doha Development Agenda negotiations.

"Today, sub-Saharan Africa is more of an integral part of the
multilateral trading systems, and your nations have an important role in
a successful WTO agreement, especially in agriculture," Johanns told his
African audience.

"More open markets will help producers," and this will translate into
lower tariffs for agricultural products, he said.

"We cannot forget why we embarked on the DOHA Development Agenda. Freer
and fairer trade offers us the promise of lifting all nations
economically. It is the engine of economic growth. It is the best means
for reducing hunger and alleviating poverty, and it is perhaps the
strongest counterpoint to terrorism and to terrorists."

Johanns said the United States is firmly convinced that a DOHA
Development Agenda that focuses on further opening markets, reducing
distortion and improving discipline will produce benefits for all,
including developing countries.

The African Growth and Opportunity Act, he told the group, "offers the
framework on which to build our linkages and programs to instill hope,
opportunity and results."

Johanns pledged to "expand [U.S.] commitments to the 37 AGOA countries in
Africa to work toward stronger trade ties in agricultural goods," but he
also said that public-private cooperation is critical to success in this area.

AGOA provides the framework for increasing trade, he said, noting that
for 37 AGOA countries in Africa, there is already progress to report. In
2000, African countries exported $716 million in agricultural products to
the United States, and by 2004 that had risen to $1 billion, he said.

Johanns said the United States looks forward to a time when independent,
financially secure countries in Africa participate as "full partners" in
the global economy.

To make this work, he said, the United States believes that it must
support trade-capacity-building programs -- such as training of
regulatory officials and training on pest risk assessments for raw
agricultural exports -- and create an environment that promotes trade and
investment.

"I envision a time when these meetings will take place only to fine-tune
a prosperous trade partnership," he said. "Let us get on with the process
that, with time and hard work, promises a better tomorrow for all of us."

Johanns, head of the U.S. delegation at the AGOA Forum, shared the podium
with Kenyan Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry Zaddock Syon'goh, who
stressed that agriculture is critical to all African economies.

African agriculture needs to learn how to "add value" to its exports to
gain higher prices and thus earn more foreign exchange, Syon'goh said.
Succeeding at this, he noted, will increase employment and earnings.

Additionally, he asked that agricultural research and technology be more
closely linked to the African farmer, who is struggling to maintain
productivity.

"Farmers who once produced enough for themselves are now having to face
declining productivity," and with that, the Kenyan warned, "they are
bound to go into forested areas [and] cut down trees to expand their
farming. What we have seen is accelerated deforestation in most African
countries" as a result, he said.

Syon'goh also called on African farmers to "embrace biotechnology" in
order to improve productivity by the hectare and to make farming a viable
occupation.

In addition, he said that African farmers and governments must become
proficient at meeting international sanitary and phyto-sanitary
standards. Those standards, he said, "have become not only a question of
health and product safety, but key issues to market access."

The AGOA Forum is the U.S. government's premier platform to articulate
and advance its trade and investment policies with sub-Saharan Africa and
serves as a place to explore new ways to foster closer economic ties with
the region through the historic African Growth and Opportunity Act.

Three AGOA forums have been held previously: in Washington in October
2001, in Mauritius in January 2003, and again in Washington in December 2003.

For additional information, see African Growth and Opportunity Act.
http://usinfo.state.gov/af/africa/trade_economic_development/agoa.html




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