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US signs trade pledge with East Africa, eyes rest of continent

The United States and five East African countries pledged on Thursday to ease trade flows and set the stage for more US investment, a program that could be extended to other parts of Africa.

The agreement commits Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi to cooperate with the United States in customs issues, ease red tape at borders, reduce customs wait times and harmonise trade standards.

As part of the deal, which has been in the works since 2013, Washington will provide training on food safety, animal and plant health standards and international regulations. “We see this agreement and all our work with (East Africa) to date as an important steppingstone, not the final destination,” US Trade Representative Michael Froman said.

China’s rapid entry into Africa has fueled a rush to the continent by Western and other economies, including India and Brazil, and the region’s economy has grown more than 6 percent in the last decade.

Source: The Business Times

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