On December 14, 2022, the United States and African Continental Free Trade Area Secretariat (AfCFTA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation for Trade and Investment between the United States and the African Continental Free Trade Area (MOU). The MOU was signed by U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai and AfCFTA Secretary General Wamkele Mene during the 2022 U.S.-Africa Business Forum. The African Continental Free Trade Area was established in March 2018 and currently includes 55 African nations and eight Regional Economic Communities. The AfCFTA’s mandate is to create a single continental market with a population of about 1.3 billion people and a combined GDP of approximately $3.4 trillion. In remarks at the forum, President Joseph Biden said, “The United States is all in on Africa’s future. … This MOU will unlock new opportunities for trade and investment between our countries and bring Africa and the United States even closer than ever.”
The MOU seeks to develop cooperation among the parties to promote sustainable trade and economic integration in Africa and between the U.S. and AfCFTA member states. It establishes annual high-level engagement between the United States and the AfCFTA Secretariat, as well as quarterly meetings of technical working groups (TWGs), to discuss issues to be identified by the participants. The TWGs will bring together representatives from the AfCFTA Secretariat, the Office of the USTR, and other stakeholders to exchange information on best practices and have an open dialogue to enhance the relationship between the United States and the AfCFTA Secretariat, the AfCFTA member states, and related stakeholders. In announcing the MOU, the White House released a Fact Sheet announcing new initiatives and investments to promote two-way trade and investment between the United States and AfCFTA member states.
In a brief statement, Ambassador Kathrine Tai stated, “We signed this MOU to create a platform for a regular dialogue with the AfCFTA Secretariat and other stakeholders to address matters of mutual interest about the negotiation and implementation of the AfCFTA.” She added, “In terms of size and population, Africa’s significance is undeniable…. and the continent is becoming an increasingly important economic partner to the United States.”