The creation of Trade Africa was announced as Obama wraps up his three-country visit to Africa in Tanzania.
Trade Africa will initially focus on the East African Community states -- Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda -- which represent a market with significant opportunity for U.S. exports and investment, the White House said in a fact sheet. Intra-EAC trade has doubled in the past five years, and the region's gross domestic product has risen to more than $80 billion, quadrupling in only 10 years.
The five states of the EAC, with a population of more than 130 million people, have increasingly stable and pro-business regulations. They are home to promising local enterprises that are forming creative partnerships with multinational companies. And EAC countries are benefiting from the emergence of an educated, globalized middle class.
In its initial phase, Trade Africa aims to double intra-regional trade in the EAC, increase EAC exports to the United States by 40 percent, reduce by 15 percent the average time needed to import or export a container from the ports of Mombasa or Dar es Salaam to Burundi and Rwanda, and decrease by 30 percent the average time a truck takes to transit selected borders.
The United States also hopes to expand collaboration with other regional economic communities in Africa, including in cooperation with other partner nations, the White House said. Officials said increasing trade between the United States and Africa will be the focus of the African Growth and Opportunity Act Forum in Addis Ababa Aug. 9-13.