ECONOMIC ROUNDTABLE ACTION PLAN
Report by Kamau Ron Taplin
Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus (SRDC)
State of Washington Representative
On a drizzly Saturday morning on March 26, 2011 on the campus of Seattle University, members of the Greater Seattle area began trickling in to an event billed as an Economic Roundtable Action Plan. This was a first time event in the Greater Northwest with a focus on International Trade with Africa. The goal of the event was to increase awareness among the participants of recent Federal legislation which has opened the American economy to several thousand products from the African continent which can now be imported “duty free.” The conference further enlightened participants on the importance of organizing to do business on the continent and the many opportunities which may emanate from such endeavors. Some notable voices gave impressive presentations and answered numerous questions.
SRDC is a Pan-African organization with a chapter’s in various locations nationally and internationally. The Seattle Chapter which hosted the national SRDC Conference in 2009, also hosted this event. SRDC’s International Facilitator, Dr. David Horne (Los Angeles) was present at the Roundtable event and gave the opening address which focused on the history of the SRDC, its current work and the vision for its future.
Also in attendance was Mr. Al Washington (Los Angeles), Executive Director of the Africa-USA International Chamber of Commerce & Industry. Mr. Washington spoke on the need for Diasporan Africans to organize for engagement with the continent around business and economics first. In October of 2010 in Los Angeles, Al Washington organized the “First Annual Pan African Global Trade Conference: Unifying Africa and the African Diaspora Through International Trade and Commerce.”
Another key presenter was Mr. Peter Gishuru, President & CEO of the African Chamber of Commerce of the Pacific Northwest. Mr. Gishuru provided insight into the Federal legislation which brought into being the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). Additionally, he provided background to the origin of the African Chamber of Commerce in the Pacific Northwest.
The Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus of Washington State (SRDC) co-sponsored this event with the Global African Studies Program (GASP) of Seattle University. The Director of the program, Dr. Femi Taiwo opened the event with greetings on behalf of Seattle University and the Global African Studies Program. Feedback from numerous participants was very positive and future Economic Roundtables are now in planning at the international level for Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania.