The U.S. Agency for International Development, the American Apparel & Footwear Association and the African Cotton & Textile Industries Federation have signed a memorandum of understanding to expand trade and investment linkages between the U.S. and sub-Saharan Africa in the cotton textile and apparel sectors.

Building on the momentum of President Obama’s Trade Africa initiative, this alliance will promote Africa as a reliable sourcing destination for international buyers and explore opportunities to promote U.S. trade and investment in Africa.

“Africa is poised to make great strides in economic development in this decade with our combined GDP [gross domestic product] growing by 60 percent by 2020,” said ACTIF chairman Jaswinder Bedi. “This partnership with USAID and AAFA will ensure that both the United States and Africa participate in this growth story.”

AAFA and ACTIF, with support from USAID, plan to expand and facilitate U.S.-Africa cooperation through the exchange of market and import-export policy information, guidance on requirements and best practices, and the promotion of solutions to address market constraints.

“Sub-Saharan Africa is a growing player in the global apparel and footwear marketplace,” said AAFA executive vice president Steve Lamar. “Through this memorandum of understanding, AAFA is [pleased] to work with USAID and ACTIF to facilitate increased trade and market access opportunities between the United States and Africa.”

President Obama has renewed the country’s emphasis on spurring economic growth, trade and investment in Africa, including promoting an enabling environment for trade and investment, regional integration, improved economic governance and expanded African capacity to trade. The African Growth & Opportunity Act already offers more than 40 sub-Saharan countries preferential trade status with the U.S.

As America supports the development of Africa’s economic growth, it can generate new export markets and tap into a common market that could one day outpace India or China, the groups said. Oren Whyche-Shaw, USAID principal adviser for Africa, said the partnership will “take advantage of growing opportunities in the global marketplace and create jobs and income on both continents.”