Minority business-owners in the Southeast who sell hand-woven textile products, interior decorating handicraft items or leather goods are encouraged to participate in a two-day business forum to be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Oct. 25-26, said Joann Hill, business development specialist at the Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency in Atlanta.

The event, known as the East and Central Africa AGOA Sectoral Forum, aims to match U.S. buyers with businesspeople from sub-Saharan African countries including Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Madagascar, Rwanda, Seychelles and Uganda.

Interested U.S. buyers are encouraged to register for the conference as soon as possible as they may be eligible to receive discounted airfare and lodging for their participation, Ms. Hill said.

The forum is the first in a series of regional workshops that are designed to facilitate sector-specific trade relationships between businesses in the U.S and those in a number of sub-Saharan African countries. The October conference concentrates on the sectors of hand-loomed or hand-woven textile products, interior decorating or handicraft items and leather goods.

Creating business partnerships between U.S. buyers and African producers is an integral part of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which was signed in 2001 to help the economies of sub-Saharan African countries to better integrate into the global market.

The Minority Business Development Agency is co-sponsoring the event alongside the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa.

USAID’s Nairobi, Kenya-based East and Central Africa Global Competitiveness Hub, which serves as a business development resource for African leaders in 18 sub-Saharan countries, is organizing the event. The Nairobi trade hub is one of three located on the continent. The others are in Accra, Ghana, and Gaborone, Botswana.

To register for the conference, contact Ms. Hill at (404) 730-3300. For more information about the conference, visit the www.ecatradehub.com/addis2005.