Newscast Media HOUSTON—The planned opening of new U.S. trade offices in four
African countries demonstrates the U.S. commitment to supporting Africa’s developing
economies, a top U.S. trade official says.
“As a new member of the Department of Commerce team, I’m very excited to be a
part of this major expansion,” U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Global
Markets Arun Kumar said in an April 28 Commerce Department blog post.
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker announced the expansion of trade offices
on April 17. She said that, in 2014, the Commerce Department’s International Trade
Administration will open offices in Angola, Ethiopia, Mozambique and Tanzania, in
cooperation with the U.S. Department of State. These four new offices, in addition to
one to be opened in Burma, will bring the knowledge and experience of U.S. trade
specialists into some of the world’s most rapidly developing economies.
Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the fastest-growing economic regions in the world,
Kumar pointed out in his blog post, adding that the International Monetary Fund
predicts continued growth throughout the continent, as part of a broad continental
“Our new offices will support White House initiatives like Trade Africa and Power
Africa, which have spearheaded a larger campaign to bolster development throughout
the continent,” Kumar said.
Trade Africa is a partnership between the United States and sub-Saharan Africa,
launched by President Obama in July 2013, that seeks to increase internal and
regional trade within Africa and expand trade and economic ties between Africa, the
United States and other global markets. Power Africa is an initiative President Obama
announced in June 2013 that aims to double access to power in sub-Saharan Africa.
“As U.S. companies look to ship goods to Africa, help increase electrical capacity, or
help improve transportation networks, they will receive unparalleled assistance and
expertise from our staff,” Kumar said. “With our new offices on the continent, we will
be able to find partners for American companies, help navigate regulatory hurdles,
and support the development that will make Africa thrive.”
As this expansion takes place, Kumar said, “these markets are where we will truly see
the mutual benefits of trade.” U.S. companies “will bring the infrastructure and ideas
that improve quality of life for citizens and they will support the partnerships that
spur innovation among local businesses,” he said.
The expansion announcement “is just the start,” Kumar said, adding, “I’m very excited
to see how this expansion will help support existing partnerships, create new
opportunities, and bring about the kind of development that is only possible through
global trade.” http://newscastmedia.com/trade-africa.html
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—Africa is an increasingly important market for U.S. firms and small businesses, a top U.S. trade official told an audience at Harvard University April 6.
Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for African Affairs Florizelle Liser, speaking on the U.S.-Africa trade relationship at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s 2013 Black Policy Conference, noted that six of the 10 fastest-growing economies in the world are found in Africa.
“Africa is a trade and investment destination that can no longer be ignored, and I hope that you’ll help Africa to fulfill the promise of a new century as we continue to build shared prosperity on both sides of the Atlantic,” she said, according to a news release the same day from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR).
Liser, whose office coordinates, develops and implements U.S. trade policy for Africa, discussed current trends and changing dynamics in U.S. trade and investment policy toward sub-Saharan Africa. In 2012, she said, U.S. and sub-Saharan African goods trade totaled $72 billion, and U.S. exports to the region were up almost 7 percent from the year before. She pointed to a recent McKinsey and Company study that found that African countries, compared to other developing nations, offer the highest rate of return on foreign direct investment.
That high return on investment in Africa, she said, could account for the billions of dollars (currently almost $80 billion per year) in private investment flowing into the region in recent years.
Liser said the USTR is implementing several trade and investment initiatives on the continent, including the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), as well as the Presidential Policy Directive (PPD) for sub-Saharan Africa.
AGOA, which provides duty-free entry into the United States for almost all products of sub-Saharan African beneficiary countries, has served as the cornerstone of U.S. engagement with sub-Saharan Africa on trade and investment. The program has mutually benefited all parties by supporting economic growth in Africa and fostering an improved African business climate that is increasingly attractive to U.S. investors and exporters.
The PPD, President Obama’s strategy for sub-Saharan Africa, calls for an increased U.S. focus on expanding trade and investment in the region by these means:
• Promoting an enabling environment for trade and investment.
• Improving economic governance.
• Promoting regional integration.
• Expanding African capacity to effectively access and benefit from global markets.
• Encouraging U.S. companies to trade with and invest in Africa.
Liser encouraged those in her audience to work collaboratively with African businesses and governments to share knowledge, establish commercial opportunities and exchange information.
Newscast Media WASHINGTON, D.C.—The time to do business in Africa is now, according to a new report from global business consulting company Goldman Sachs.
“Africa is something investors have to think about, for long-term growth (either participating in it or missing it), for its economic implications for the world, and for the need for Africa to succeed in order to enable it to supply the world with scarce resources,” says the company’s March report on Africa.
The report says the continent “has a major role to play in resolving the world’s commodity, food and labor constraints in the near, medium and long term.” Although the continent is getting positioned to offer increased agricultural, mineral and commodities exports, Goldman Sachs said Africa’s potential “is about much more than resources as it evolves and climbs the consumption, urbanization and perhaps industrialization curves” mounted by other developing nations.
“Clearly there are many risks, from climate to corruption, from competence to capital, but recently it seems that more is going right than ever before,” the report says. With the continent expected to have the world’s largest workforce by the middle of the 21st century, and with one in 10 Africans expected to be in the global middle class by 2030, Africa is looking more than ever like the next frontier for investment.
But barriers still exist. Unstable governments, high trade tariffs and inadequate education remain problems in several African countries that stand to work against the continent’s economic growth.
“Moving goods around Africa takes longer and costs more than in most places in the world,” the report says. “On top of this, Africa scores very badly in terms of number of power outages and poorly on transport infrastructure per capita.”
Goldman Sachs said correcting this problem will require that the funding mix shift away from governments and toward more private sector involvement, including foreign capital. “Removing this brake on growth is essential” for African growth, the report adds. Click here to read or download full report.
Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson recently led a U.S. trade mission to Mozambique, Tanzania, Ghana and Nigeria to look at potential investment projects with the aim of enhancing the countries’ ability to generate electric power — a key infrastructure need for Africa. The mission, which was co-sponsored by the Corporate Council on Africa, made a brief stop in Kenya as well.
The United States will host the 11th annual U.S.–Sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum, also known as the AGOA Forum, June 14–15 with the theme of “Enhancing Africa’s Infrastructure for Trade.” That forum will be followed by a U.S.-Africa Business Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio, June 21–22, that will echo the AGOA Forum’s themes of infrastructure development, particularly in the areas of energy, transportation, water and sanitation.