Today, Acting Deputy U.S. Commerce Secretary Patrick Gallagher delivered remarks at “From DC to Africa: Growing Local, Going Global,” a business forum hosted by the D.C. Office on African Affairs to raise awareness of opportunities for U.S. companies to do business in Africa. D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray also gave remarks at the forum and introduced Dr. Gallagher.
The event also marks the first anniversary of the launch of the Commerce Department’s Doing Business in Africa Campaign (DBIA) by then-Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Last year, President Obama issued the U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa and said the region is poised to be the world’s next greatest economic success story. In fact, sub-Saharan Africa is home to six of the ten fastest-growing economies in the world. U.S. exports to Africa currently top $21 billion a year, and enormous opportunities exist for more U.S. companies to export goods and services there. DBIA works to take advantage of those export and investment opportunities by encouraging more robust commercial engagement in sub-Saharan Africa.
In speaking to an audience of more than 200 local businesses, Acting Deputy Secretary Gallagher emphasized why U.S. companies should see sub-Saharan Africa as an export destination. In the first half of this year, U.S. companies have exported more than $1 billion more in goods exports to the region compared to the same period in 2012. However, U.S. exports to Africa represent only two percent of our total exports.
Dr. Gallagher also highlighted DBIA campaign successes through the work of the Commerce Department and their partner trade agencies in the last year, including holding nationwide outreach sessions with sub-Saharan Africa commercial experts, and bringing hundreds of African companies and buyers to U.S. trade shows in sectors like water, power, oil and gas, and agribusiness. In the second year of the DBIA campaign, the Department of Commerce aims to bring even more potential African partners and buyers to U.S. trade shows, collaborate on the administration’s Power Africa initiative to double access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa, and address trade barriers in the region.
The DBIA campaign also supports NEI 2.0, an initiative laid out in the Commerce Department’s “Open for Business Agenda,” which aims to revitalize efforts to partner with industry to help businesses become more globally fluent, increase American exports and support the creation of millions of jobs.