Under Secretary of Commerce For International Trade Francisco SÁnchez
Doing Business in Africa Forum
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
As prepared for delivery
Thank you very much, Scott (Eisner), for that very kind introduction and for your leadership with the Chamber of Commerce in helping develop the African market.
Your continued emphasis is a tremendous help as we look to new opportunities in the region.
It really is an honor to be here and to contribute to the discourse on what is a very important initiative.
All of you know President Obama made a trip to Africa just a few weeks ago. In Tanzania, he emphasized his intentions to bring about “a new level of economic engagement with Africa.”
President Bush shared a similar vision, and we’ve been fortunate to have successive presidents who have made the region a priority.
The government is coordinating among agencies to leverage our collective resources under the Doing Business in Africa campaign. I am glad to know we have partners in organizations like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
I am happy to know that you, as America’s business leaders, understand the importance of Africa. You understand that if you wish to expand your business overseas, Africa is a key destination.
That’s because seven of the 10 fastest growing nations in the world are in Africa.
The International Monetary Fund estimates economic growth in the region this year and the next to be between five and six percent.
Even though our trade with Africa has nearly tripled in the past decade, only two percent of our exports go to the region.
So we know there is room for growth. There are opportunities to do more.
I challenge you to take advantage of those opportunities.
The Doing Business in Africa campaign – we call it DBIA – is a whole-of-government effort. You can see that from the number of agencies represented on today’s panels.
The government is behind the effort because it fits in with so many of our priorities. By expanding our exports to Africa, we are also creating and supporting jobs here at home.
We are supporting the economic recovery.
Equally important, we are creating opportunity and prosperity for Africans. We’re helping develop the region by providing infrastructure – power, roads and bridges.
That will support growth and create new opportunities for current and future generations of Africans.
Proper infrastructure will be the accelerator the continent needs to maximize its abundant natural resources.
Infrastructure will spur industrial development, and facilitate regional trade - which will also benefit American companies. That is the priority of the Trade Africa initiative – nurturing the ability to move goods through Africa more easily and at lower costs.
President Obama also pledged more than seven billion dollars to Power Africa, an initiative to double reliable access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa.
With more than two-thirds of the population of sub-Saharan Africa living without electricity, Power Africa is intended to help the region achieve energy security. This is critical to facilitate regional growth.
Again, these initiatives are the necessary first steps in creating a new level of engagement with Africa. They are the next steps in facilitating necessary development in the region. They are steps to make sure that as Africa develops its natural resources, it does so responsibly.
In the past eight months, we have made significant progress working with American companies to explore and support commercial opportunities.
We are partnering on a long-term, sustainable approach to increasing economic engagement in the region.
We will continue to do so.
It’s only with greater American private sector investment that these initiatives can be successful. Which is why your presence here today to discuss investment in the African energy and infrastructure sectors is crucial.
Many of you here today have already invested in Africa.
Many of you have played instrumental roles in the development of the continent, and have benefitted from your investments.
Your efforts to both do well and do good on the continent are why there is a continued hunger for American goods, services, and investment.
You can help us by telling your story about success in Africa.
You can help show other businesses the opportunities in Africa.
Potential exporters need to hear from companies like you who have succeeded in the region. Leverage your networks and local media outlets. Get the word out that Africa is open for business.
The information all of us share today, the information we receive today – this will help us all learn the next steps to take.
We intend to show you today the myriad ways the government can and will support you as you focus on Africa.
I hope you will share your insights so we can better learn how to support you.
At a time when it seems like many in this country have trouble agreeing on things, it’s important to seize the opportunities on issues like this – where there is no doubt about the path forward.
Now let’s get to work.
The International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, manages this global trade site to provide access to ITA information on promoting trade and investment, strengthening the competitiveness of U.S. industry, and ensuring fair trade and compliance with trade laws and agreements. External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein. This site contains PDF documents. A PDF reader is available from Adobe Systems Incorporated.