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US commerce official promotes trade in EAC region

Tanzania and the US have embarked on the second phase of collaborative efforts to finalise a joint action plan that will spell out the steps necessary to overcome major challenges in improving the East African nation’s business climate, US Ambassador to Tanzania Alfonso E. Lenhardt said.

Lenhardt made the remark here Wednesday following a four-day visit by US Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Market Access and Compliance Michael Camuñez to advance a White House proposed regional trade package with the East African Community (EAC) as well as the White House Partnership for Growth (PFG) Initiative in Tanzania.

“Assistant Secretary Camuñez’s visit reflects the United States of America’s strong commitment to expand and deepen its commercial partnership ties with Tanzania and the region in order to promote entrepreneurship, development, and prosperity for all citizens,” Lenhardt said.

At a meeting with representatives of American businesses and investors in Tanzania, Camuñez highlighted the importance of US investment in the country, saying, “private sector growth is the key to addressing many of Tanzania’s most critical challenges.

“The United States is proud to be working together with the Tanzanian government, particularly through the Partnership for Growth (PFG) Initiative, and with our private sector partners to foster and support the type of business environment that will bring about increased growth and benefit both the companies involved and the Tanzanian people.”

Presently, the United States is the largest donor to Tanzania. In 2011 Washington contributed US$700 million to the country through inter-agency assistance programmes.

Camuñez visited Tanzania as part of a larger tour of the East African region that took him to Nairobi, Kenya, where he convened a Trade and Investment conference with the EAC private sector to identify strategic priorities as a road map for the proposed commercial dialogue under the regional trade package.

The proposed regional trade package between the US and the EAC includes a regional investment treaty, a trade facilitation agreement and a commercial dialogue.

In Tanzania the US official met with President Jakaya Kikwete and other senior government officials, and held talks with EAC Secretary General Richard Sezibera as well as representatives from the East African Business Council in Arusha.

“Camuñez’s visit falls squarely within the objectives of the Partnership for Growth …Our commitment to work with Tanzanian government counterparts, and the private sector to help redress some of the binding constraints keeping Tanzania from reaching its fullest potential,” said Lenhardt.

According to the ambassador, the first phase of the Partnership for Growth identified a weak power sector, inadequate rural roads and an unclear land tenure policy as binding constraints on Tanzania’s development.

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