A Congressional Delegation from the United States of America today visited the EAC Headquarters and held discussions with the Secretary General of the East African Community, Amb. Dr. Richard Sezibera.
Leading the delegation was the Republican Senator for Oklahoma; James Inhofe; accompanied by thirteen other delegates among them; Senator Mike Rounds (South Dakota), Republican Joe Barton (Texas), Republican Vernon Buchanan (Florida), Republican Ann Kirkpatrick (Arizona), and Republican Tim Walberg (Miami).
The Secretary General was accompanied by his Deputy in charge of Planning and Infrastructure, Dr. Enos Bukuku and other EAC officials.
The purpose of their visit was to gain insight on major developments realized as well as challenges experienced within the support priority areas of the United States Government (USG) to EAC.
The USG support to the EAC cuts across sectors of Trade and Investment, Agriculture, Energy, Environment, Health and Institutional Strengthening Support.
The USG assistance is being achieved through the Assistance Agreement for Comprehensive Development (AA-RCD) to increase Regional Economic Growth and Integration in the EAC region.
This corresponds with the EAC mission. The Support from the USG to EAC is about $18,000,000 per annum.
In his welcoming remarks, the Secretary General hailed the long history of partnership between the United States Government and the EAC both at the regional and Partner States’ levels.
He noted that this has fostered great EAC-USG relations especially among the youth who continue to benefit from the increasing opportunities offered by the USG to further their studies.
“Young Americans are also frequenting this region in large numbers to study or volunteer or spend time in this region, this is commendable as it is the relationship of the future” affirmed Amb. Sezibera.
Noting that the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), one of the defining characteristics of the trade and commercial relationship between USA and Africa, will expire in September 30 this year, the Secretary General requested the Congressional Delegation to look into the issue of its extension; adding that apart from this, a bilateral binding trade agreement should be established between the USG and EAC.
Trade and Investment and Agriculture being their main areas of concern, the Congressional Delegation and the EAC officials took note of the fact that the East African region lacks direct flights to market its exports to meet USA demands.
In line with this, it was also noted that sanitary and phytosanitary standards within East Africa need to be harmonized in order to meet USA standards and consequently market its agricultural products.