Monday, November 3, 2014

US govt to tackle infrastructure hurdles in EA region

The US government has reiterated its commitments to continue tackling policy and infrastructure bottlenecks to trade in Tanzania and the rest of East Africa region, it has been learnt. The visiting US Secretary of Treasury Jacob Lew announced on Tuesday evening this week at a Business Roundtable hosted by the American Chamber which was held at Hyatt Regency hotel in Dar es Salaam. He said the US government, being the leading contributor to the World Bank (WB) and the African Development Bank (ADB), will continue contributing to the two banks which are both the major financiers of the infrastructure and policy reforms across the East African Community.  He said, through Trade Africa, both within the region and with the rest of the world.  This is a whole-of-government initiative, with support for businesses and investors through the USAID's East Africa Trade Hub. According to him, the United States has teamed up with the major donors to support Trademark East Africa, which is supporting infrastructure and reforms across the region.  In Tanzania, Trademark East Africa is improving border posts and monitoring non-tariff barriers, amongst other activities. The US Secretary of Treasury who is in tour of African countries jetted in Dar es Salaam early this week for a two day visit and left on Tuesday night. In his short visit, he met with government officials to discuss the opportunities and challenges of doing business in Tanzania. He has praised Tanzania for having been blessed with abundant natural resources, including wildlife and natural gas, and a burgeoning consumer market, which make the country one of the most exciting destinations for frontier investment.    

“Tanzania can use its position as a regional trade hub in East Africa’s economic integration to reap the benefits of belonging to a fast-growing and promising market”, he noted. He also took time to hear from business stakeholders how the United States could better support private sector economic growth across the region. In his talks he emphasized together with other things the opportunities and challenges which the US President Barrack Obama addressed when he visited Tanzania in August last year which the US government has committed to work and address them. During his visit, President Obama highlighted the opportunities and challenges in this region and the United States’ commitment to work to address these when he hoisted hosted the U.S.–Africa Leaders’ Summit in Washington, the largest event any U.S. President has never held with African heads of state.  The Summit was a success in bringing together U.S. companies and African leaders, culminating in over $14 billion in commercial agreements. To improve the environment for businesses in Africa and create jobs and opportunity for the people of Africa, President Obama launched two key initiatives—Trade Africa here in Dar es Salaam, and Power Africa in Cape Town.  These initiatives tackle key constraints across Africa, improved infrastructure and policies for trade to flourish, and reliable electricity to power businesses and light homes. The U.S. Treasury is working with Tanzania’s Ministry of Finance to improve its debt management, infrastructure finance, and revenue collection capacities. “I am happy to announce that we will soon be broadening our engagement with two more advisors to assist the Ministry with managing the budget and combating illicit finance”, he said and added that last year, Treasury advisors completed assistance to the East African Community for implementing the initiative. “This is an exciting time to be in Africa as the region has been one of the bright spots in the global economy, and growth is likely to remain strong in the coming years”, he said. 
He further noted that, “East Africa, specifically, is making impressive progress on regional integration, infrastructure development, energy expansion, and economic reform and growth. The U.S. government’s Doing Business in Africa project aims to strengthen our commercial relationship with Africa”.

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