U.S. signs trade pledge with East Africa and eyes rest of the continent

Barack Obama, President of the United States, at the US-Africa Business Forum in August 2014

The United States and five East African countries pledged on Thursday to ease trade flows and set the stage for more U.S. 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 harmonize 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,” U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said.

Read more: U.S. signs trade pledge with East Africa, eyes rest of continent | Reuters.