By  on August 6, 2009

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Wednesday the U.S. will launch formal talks to strengthen two-way trade with Mauritius after growth in sectors such as jewelry and accessories.

The announcement came during the eighth annual African Growth & Opportunity Act, known as AGOA, forum in Nairobi, Kenya, which is scheduled to conclude today.

“In the context of our two countries’ bilateral relationship, Mauritius has undertaken significant efforts to diversify and increase its trade and investment with the United States,” Kirk said. “And Mauritius has succeeded in the development of new products and sectors, including diamond processing, aquaculture, sunglass and eyewear manufacturing, and jewelry production. These efforts have attracted significant investment.”

Direct U.S. investment in Mauritius has increased almost 700 percent in the last five years, Kirk said. Two-way trade between the U.S. and Mauritius was valued at $227.7 million in 2008, according to government statistics. Top exports from the African country to the U.S. include apparel and textiles, cut diamonds, jewelry and perfume.

Mauritius is a beneficiary country of AGOA and has had a trade and investment framework agreement with the U.S. since 2006. The existing relationship helped lay the groundwork to begin the new bilateral investment treaty talks, Kirk said.

The U.S. message to the sub-Saharan African countries during the forum has been to encourage them to better utilize the AGOA trade preference program, which expires in 2015.

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