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Africa: USAID trade hubs created over 60,000 new jobs in Africa

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U.S. Agency for International Development’s Mission Director for West Africa, Alex Deprez has revealed that US-Africa trade relations have led to the creation of more than 60,000 jobs across the continent.

Alex Deprez expressed US government’s commitment to assisting Africa in its development agenda through trade and investments.

He continued that the interventions by the US government which are implemented by the agencies and partners across the continent especially USAID has yielded significant results.

The USAID Head of Missions for West Africa said his agency has created several opportunities and facilitated the increase in trading activities between Ghana and US.

“Since 2010 USAID regional trade hubs have facilitated more than $300 million in new finance and investments, almost $1 billion in AGOA exports and created more than 60, 000 new jobs right here in Africa” he revealed.

He highlighted the gains Ghana has made through trade and investments cooperation the US stressing that he is optimistic that other African countries will also reap benefits of such partnerships.

Alex Deprez also stated that in Agriculture, Ghana is gradually moving towards value addition as they are decreasingly exporting beans to US.

“Here in Ghana for example, we have a range of wonderful products that are entering the US market including cocoa, shear, cashew and dried mango. An encouraging sign is that these products are often now moving as cocoa butter, and cocoa powder instead of beans. Many products are also being exported as soaps instead of shear nuts, so does kernels rather than raw cashew. Value addition is increasing” he detailed.

“In the apparel sector, here in Ghana, we have seen a US Ghanaian joint venture, founded in 2014, hire more than 1,500 workers mostly women and export nearly 6 million garments into US through AGOA. USAID support for vocational training and finance, we expect to see those numbers continue to expand quickly and to see additional firms from Benin, from Nigeria, from Cote d’Ivoire, and from Senegal to follow suit and we are very excited about that” he intimated.

Alex Deprez was speaking at the AGOA capacity building and skills development workshop in Accra on Monday.

The programme brought together relevant stakeholders across the continent and representatives from institutions such as World Bank, African Union Commission, USAID, AFREXIM Bank, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the Trade Minister Alan Kyerematen.

The workshop is to facilitate exchange of ideas and development of solutions to resolve challenges that has confronted the implementation of the African Growth and Opportunities Act that was initiated in 2000 and renewed in 2010. It is due to end in 2025 thus having 7 years left for its implementation and benefit.

The USAID Director for West Africa also noted that West Africa has an emerging middle class which stands at more than 70 million people at the moment and present enormous trade and investment opportunities for many firms in Africa.

He stressed that unlike several decades ago, Africa has built up its capacity to compete in global market and succeed but indicated that intra trade barriers continue to hinder the rapid growth.

“The business opportunities to supply this rapidly growing middle class and the markets of the region are enormous If the region and the market could make good on breaking down regional barriers. The US is committed to Africa and USAID remains a partner to supporting your efforts to grow and deepen trade relationships” he added.

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