US envoy commends Africa Union for regional integration

African Union (AU) Commission Chairman Moussa Faki, of Chad, and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson smile and shake hands for news photographers after their meeting at AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 8, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

The U.S. has lauded the African Union Commission for its efforts at Africa’s integration, describing it as “a force for good”.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, after his meeting with Chairperson of the AU Commission, Mr Moussa Mahamat, at the Commission’s headquarters in Addis Ababa, said he was in Africa ‘to listen”

Tillerson said “the purpose of my trip to this continent is to listen. I think it is important that we listen to what the priorities of the countries here on the continent are.

And see where there is good alignment between their priorities and our areas of greatest interest as well. And I think we’ve already found there are many”.

He applauded the Africa Centres for Disease Control, saying it has been quite successful in tracking and responding to disease outbreaks on the continent adding, health security also advanced national security, economic development, and political stability.

On trade, Tillerson said U.S. supported AU’s economic regional integration efforts to lower intra-trade barriers on the continent and boost more intra-regional trade.

He said U.S. appreciated AU’s very strong statements on South Sudan at the recent AU summit, adding U.S. truly calls on all parties to abide by the cessation of hostilities and be open to compromise for the good of the South Sudanese people.

Tillerson said fighting corruption was another area of common cause between Africa and U.S. adding, we’re very pleased to see that the African Union has named 2018 as the year for winning the fight against corruption.

 “Good governance and transparency are essential to creating the conditions for economic growth and prosperity, and we look forward to continuing our joint efforts with the African Union to improve the business environment on the continent.

Mahamat, in his remarks, said his discussions with the U.S. envoy was fruitful, noting the visit was taking place at a time when Africa was firmly embarking on the path to integration and reform.

“We informed him of our efforts aimed at establishing a market of more than a billion people, and to stress that a strong AU is in the interest, not only of the continent, but that of our partners also, including the U.S.

“We have agreed to work for the strengthening of the trade and commercial relations between Africa and the U.S., including the post-AGOA – the African Growth and Opportunity Act,” he said.