Recognizing the tremendous untapped economic potential of Africa, the United States of America today underscored its commitment to expanding trade and investment in sub-Saharan Africa.
In his remarks today at DC, Assistant Secretary Johnnie Carson says U.S. trade to and from Africa has grown significantly in the past ten years.
Reports say U.S. exports to sub-Saharan Africa tripled from just under $7 billion U.S. dollars in 2001 to over $21 billion dollars in 2011.
“As Secretary of State Clinton said at the annual AGOA Forum two weeks ago: “twelve years ago, the United States passed the Africa Growth and Opportunity act because we believed that the countries of Africa had tremendous untapped economic potential that could and should be developed.” -Mr. Carson
The United States and African nations shared a vision with many of you of a future in which economic growth in Africa would fuel growth and prosperity worldwide, Mr. Carson underlined.
In large part, this vision is becoming reality, he added
He says Africa represents the next global economic frontier and
Sub-Saharan Africa continues to weather the global economic crisis more successfully than other regions.
Sub-Saharan Africa is home to six and soon to be seven of the ten fastest growing economies in the world.
He cites that a recent McKinsey study documented that Africa offers the highest rate of return on foreign investment of any developing region and has for some years now.
Consumer spending continues to rise, and 43 percent of Africans currently have discretionary income or could be considered middle class consumers, he reported.
“However, we can do more. Africa’s recent economic growth is impressive but the region still only accounts for approximately two percent of global trade.” -Mr. Carson
He states that the second pillar of President Obama’s recently announced U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa directs the Administration to “spur economic growth, trade, and investment in sub-Saharan Africa.”
He explains this new approach recognizes that it is in the interest of both the United States and its African partners to improve the region’s trade competitiveness, encourage the diversification of exports beyond natural resources, and ensure sustained economic growth which benefits all sectors of society.
According to Mr. Carson, this new strategy elevates economic growth, trade, and investment issues by calling for increased U.S. focus to (1) promote an enabling environment for trade and investment ; (2) improve economic governance; (3) promote regional integration; (4) expand African capacity to effectively access and benefit from global markets; and (5) encourage U.S. companies to trade with and invest in Africa.
In addition to the President’s new U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa, Mr. Carson stresses US efforts to increase its commercial engagement in Africa are firmly in line with Secretary Clinton’s global focus on Economic Statecraft.
He says the State Department’s economic statecraft policy harnesses the forces of global economics to advance our diplomatic agenda and puts the tools of our diplomacy to work to meet our economic goals.
“We are committed to using every opportunity available to advance not only diplomatic and political priorities but our economic and commercial goals as well.” -Mr. Carson
He highlighted few of the programs that the Bureau of African Affairs has been working on as it shift its economic orientation towards Africa from focusing almost exclusively on development assistance to promoting sustained economic growth through private sector, commercial, trade, and investment activities.
He notes that the African Growth and Opportunity Act continues to be the centerpiece of US trade policy with sub-Saharan Africa.
“It is Africa’s most important vehicle for market access and its unilateral trade preferences have created enormous goodwill for the United States on the continent.” -Mr. Carson
Without US help, jobs will continue to disappear in some of Africa’s most vulnerable economies, affecting primarily women and the families they support, Mr. Carson noted.
The United States continues to actively educate, inform and encourage U.S. companies to be more active in Africa.
He sattes Africa is a continent on the move and there are enormous opportunities for U.S. companies to enter the market, make money, and create jobs for Americans here at home.
In its continuing efforts to inform, educate and encourage U.S. companies to pursue commercial opportunities on the continent, just last week, Mr. Carson says the State Department, in collaboration with the Department of Commerce’s U.S. Export Assistance Center in Cincinnati, the Department of Transportion, the Ex-Im Bank, USTDA, USAID, USTR, and several other U.S. Government agencies, hosted a U.S.-Africa Business Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio.
The conference attracted well over 400 participants, including African government officials, and representatives from the U.S. and African private sectors and civil society.
Mr. Carson notes that the U.S.-Africa Business Conference expanded on the AGOA Forum infrastructure theme by focusing on infrastructure development, including energy, transportation, and water and sanitation. It showcased U.S. business expertise to potential African clients and highlighted trade and investment opportunities in Africa to U.S. exporters and investors.
The new U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa, which is derived from a Presidential Policy Directive, builds on numerous accomplishments of U.S.-Africa policy to strengthen democratic institutions, promote regional peace and security, engage with young African leaders, and promote development, trade, and investment.
The United States has worked to strengthen democratic institutions in sub-Saharan Africa through high-level diplomatic engagement, institution building, and programs that develop the capacity of judiciaries, legislatures, media and civil society.
The United States is investing in development partnerships across Africa to accelerate sustainable economic growth, promote food security, improve the capacity of countries and communities to respond to diseases and rebuild health systems, and to combat climate change. These investments in smart development align with country-owned plans, include civil society and the private sector, and strategically deploy our assistance funding for maximal impact.
Since taking office, the Obama Administration has signed multi-year grant agreements with five sub-Saharan Africa countries, totaling over $1.3 billion in investments that seek to reduce poverty through economic growth.