Commerce.gov is getting a facelift soon. See the new design.
Syndicate content

Blog Category: Doing Business in Africa

Secretary Pritzker Celebrates Female Entrepreneurs during Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

Secretary Pritzker Celebrates Female Entrepreneurs during Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker celebrated Women’s Entrepreneurship Day this week as part of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) in Marrakesh, Morocco. Secretary Pritzker helped lead the U.S. delegation to the Summit to demonstrate the U.S. government’s continued commitment to fostering entrepreneurship around the world. More than 3,000 entrepreneurs at all stages of business development, business leaders, mentors and high-level government officials gathered for the 5th Annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit. 

At last year’s GES in Malaysia, President Obama asked Secretary Pritzker to chair the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE) initiative, and she convened the first-ever meeting of that group this past April. PAGE is made up of 11 well-known American entrepreneurs who are dedicating their time and resources to inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs in the U.S. and abroad. Three PAGE members joined the Secretary at this year’s GES, including Alexa von Tobel, Founder and CEO of Learnvest, Daphne Koller, Co-Founder and President of Coursera, and Hamdi Ulukaya, Founder and CEOS of Chobani.  

In honor of Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, Secretary Pritzker delivered the keynote address to approximately 300 women entrepreneurs. She discussed America’s leadership in empowering entrepreneurs at home and abroad and touted how a strong entrepreneurial society can lead to greater economic growth, stability and security, and a rising middle class. During her remarks, she also addressed the challenges that face women entrepreneurs today including lack of access to capital, training in vocational and technical skills, and access to information and technology. Structural obstacles also create enormous difficulties for women and men who want to grow a new business and Secretary Pritzker highlighted some of those obstacles. Secretary Pritzker discussed how female entrepreneurs all over the world need a change in culture to support their work. She expressed that countries need a strong educational system that produces students able to think broadly and creatively, and to accept and take risks while also stressing that countries need to have laws that make it easy for innovators to both start a company and wind it down. 

During her first day in Morocco, the Secretary also spoke with representatives from 80 American Chambers of Commerce headquartered throughout Africa, who were also gathered in Marrakesh for the Global Entrepreneurship Summit. She discussed the Department’s Doing Business in Africa campaign, designed to leverage the power of the U.S. business community in Africa and encouraged U.S. trade promotion and investment to all regions of Africa. 

Secretary Pritzker Works to Promote More Business in Africa

Secretary Pritzker Works to Promote More Business in Africa

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker traveled to Atlanta, Georgia this week to emphasize the importance of helping U.S. companies launch and increase their business in Africa at the “Discover Global Markets: Sub-Saharan Africa” Conference. The event brought together U.S. government officials, visiting U.S. commercial diplomats posted at embassies throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, international business leaders, trade finance experts, and others to help companies identify and develop trade and investment opportunities on the continent.

Secretary Pritzker reiterated America’s commitment to solving the Ebola crisis, while emphasizing that fears about the virus should not get in the way of the facts on the ground in Africa. Ebola is confined to just three countries with a total population of roughly 21 million, while the entire African continent is home to 1.1 billion. The world public health apparatus is actively engaged, and doctors, nurses, and medical workers are using the proper protocols to treat patients and to slow the number of new cases. Efforts to eliminate the virus are starting to turn the corner, and growth of the disease is slowing in Liberia.

Despite the challenges presented by Ebola, Africa presents tremendous long-term growth opportunities, and both the U.S. government and the U.S. private sector are committed to deepening our economic and commercial engagement on the continent. Africa is home to six of the ten fastest-growing economies in the world – including Chad, Congo, the Ivory Coast, Mozambique, Ethiopia, and Sierra Leone. Real income has increased more than 30 percent, reversing two decades of decline, and GDP is expected to rise 6 percent each year over the next decade. By 2040, Africa will boast a larger workforce than either India or China.

The Discover Global Markets Forum served to increase economic and commercial engagement in Africa by helping companies launch or increase their business on the continent. The event also built on the success of the first-ever U.S.-Africa Business Forum, which the Department of Commerce co-hosted in August. This Forum brought together hundreds of American and African chief executives officers with nearly every African head of state to spur more trade and investment between the United States and Africa. At this Forum, U.S. firms announced more than $14 billion worth of investments throughout the continent.

President’s Export Council to Participate in Administration’s First-Ever Fact-Finding Mission

President’s Export Council to Participate in Administration’s First-Ever Fact-Finding Mission

Guest blog post by Stefan M. Selig, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade

Yesterday, Secretary Pritzker and I announced that we will lead a high-level delegation on an economic fact-finding trip to Poland and Turkey later this month. I am excited to participate in the first PEC fact-finding mission for the Obama administration. 

That delegation — members of the President’s Export Council (PEC) — is the principal advisory committee on international trade to the president. It includes both public officials and private sector leaders. 

The private sector leadership that will participate during the trip represent many of the most successful and important companies doing business globally today. That includes the PEC vice chair, Ursula Burns, Chairman and CEO of Xerox Corporation. 

CEOs and senior executives from Lockheed Martin, Marriott International, Archer Daniels Midland, Boeing, Dow Chemical, eBay, IBM, and Pfizer, among others, will also participate in the fact-finding mission. 

With Poland as the sixth largest economy in the EU, and Turkey tripling its GDP per capita since 2002, the trade and investment opportunities are plenty and promising, particularly as they relate to economic growth for American businesses. 

After exploring potential opportunities in these countries, the PEC will report its findings to President Obama later this year. This trip is also an occasion for both the administration and American businesses to expand its presence in the field of commercial diplomacy. Working together as partners, we are deepening U.S. economic ties and continue to strengthen our presence on the global stage. 

In fact, one of the reasons I am excited to lead ITA at this moment in time, is because I believe we have a significant role in shaping international economic priorities.  

We can drive commercial diplomacy to new heights. 

From our Doing Business in Africa campaign, which helps facilitate business deals that result in trade-based development for the continent and jobs for the United States, to our Look South Initiative, which is designed to increase trade and investment with our neighbors to the south, or trade missions that promote clean, renewable energy throughout the world, the linkages between our trade and our diplomatic priorities is clearer than ever. 

For more information about the PEC, its members, or history, visit http://trade.gov/pec. Stay tuned for our report to the president. 

5 Takeaways about Doing Business in Africa

In case you missed it during the U.S.-Africa Business Forum last week, the International Trade Administration (ITA) published a report that shows that the U.S. trade relationship with Africa is growing at an increasing rate.

ITA’s Report on U.S.-Africa Trade and Investment examines the economic statistics related to U.S. commercial involvement in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) – one of the world’s fastest-growing economic regions. The report is part of the Doing Business in Africa (DBIA) campaign, through which federal trade agencies are joining forces with U.S. businesses to take advantage of the growing export and investment opportunities available in the region.

Here are the five key takeaways of the report:

1. Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the fastest growing regions in the world. Average GDP growth has surpassed 5.2 percent three straight years. The International Monetary Fund estimates that this will increase in both 2014 and 2015.

2. U.S. exports to SSA are at record levels. Merchandise exports reached $24 billion in 2013, an increase of $8.8 billion from 2009. The past decade saw the largest increase in value of U.S. exports to sub-Saharan Africa in history; U.S. goods exports have increased by 130 percent since 2000, or an average of 6.7 percent annually.

3. Small and medium-sized businesses are finding success in SSA. More than 92 percent of businesses exporting to Africa are considered small and medium-sized enterprises—those with fewer than 500 employees. They accounted for a 53 percent increase in the value of exports to the region from 2009-2012.

4. Most export growth originates from Texas, Louisiana, New York, Illinois, New Jersey and Georgia. In total, these states accounted for 60 percent of total exports and more than 70 percent of growth in exports to SSA in 2013. Mineral fuel and oil drilling, automotive parts and supplies, precious metals, and boilers and machinery parts are the top export sectors to SSA common among these states.

5. Total U.S. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Africa has grown by 37.5 percent since 2009. While world foreign direct investment position in 2012 was 27 percent greater than in 2009, U.S. FDI position grew by 40 percent during that period.

As evidence of the report’s positive outlook for U.S. trade with Sub-Saharan Africa watch this short video of many of the deal signings that happened last week at the U.S.-Africa Business Forum. 

If your business is ready to do business in Africa, visit Trade.gov/dbia or contact your nearest Export Assistance Center.

Africa Leaders’ Summit “Driving Investment in Power Africa"

As a follow-up to the series of Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) consultations conducted in the United States and East and West Africa this summer, the Commerce Department hosted Driving Investment in Power Africa program on the sidelines of the U.S. Africa Leaders’ Summit. The Commerce Department event was coordinated by the Office of General Counsel Front Office, Commercial Law Development Program of the Department’s General Counsel’s Office in partnership with the Initiative for Global Development (IGD) and the US Agency for International Development. The program brought together investors in the African power market and U.S. and African government officials to discuss the role of U.S. government agencies in facilitating investment in power in Africa. The first draft of CLDP’s Guide to Understanding Power Purchase Agreements was also presented at the workshop. 

The dynamic mix of participants in the Driving Investment program engaged in a productive dialogue before a standing-room only crowd. Julie Wenah of the Office of the General Counsel welcomed the participants and General Counsel Kelly Welsh provided opening remarks. State Department Deputy Assistant Secretary Robert Ichord gave an overview of President Obama’s Power Africa initiative and USAID Power Africa Policy Coordinator Roseann Casey highlighted the broad array of US government support within Power Africa. International Trade Administration Deputy Assistant Secretary Matthew Murray stressed the role of power in driving increased investment in Africa, as well as the Department of Commerce’s commitment to facilitating trade and investment by U.S. companies in Africa.

Honored guests included Niger Minister of Commerce for Promotion of the Private Sector, Alma Oumarou and Rwanda Former Minister of Infrastructure, Professor Silas Lwakabamba. Also, three business delegation leaders from Secretary Pritzker’s May 2014 West Africa Trade Mission attended: Yolanda Parker of The Parker Group LLC, Kevon Makell and David Ellis of SEWW Energy.The highlight of the program was a roundtable discussion featuring a panel of CEOs of private-sector developers and lenders with additional contribution from the African government delegates in attendance.

The U.S. Partnerships and Initiatives Spurring Economic Growth in Africa

President Obama has called Africa “the world's next great economic success story.” According to the African Development Bank, Africa maintained an average GDP growth rate of 3.9 percent in 2013, exceeding the 3 percent rate for the global economy.  U.S. exports to the continent of Africa have grown 39 percent since 2009, reaching $50.2 billion in 2013. The brightest spot has been U.S. merchandise exports to sub-Saharan Africa, which have increased 58 percent since 2009.

Building on this progress, the Department of Commerce and Bloomberg Philanthropies are co-hosting the U.S. Africa Business Forum on August 5, a day focused on trade and investment opportunities on the continent. Part of the first-ever U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit taking place August 4-6, the Forum is part of the Administration’s efforts to explore Africa’s huge economic potential:

  • U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa: In 2012, President Obama announced the U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa, a comprehensive policy strategy to address the opportunities and challenges in Africa in a forward-looking way. The Strategy focuses on strengthening democratic institutions; spurring economic growth, trade, and investment; advancing peace and security; and promoting opportunity and development. 
  • Doing Business in Africa: As part of the Strategy, the Department of Commerce launched the Doing Business in Africa Campaign, which has helped U.S. businesses take advantage of the many export and investment opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa. As part of the campaign, Commerce has expanded trade promotion programs tailored toward Africa and dedicated an online Africa business portal directing businesses to federal resources.
  • Commercial Service expansion: To expand Commerce’s human resources footprint in Africa, Secretary Pritzker recently announced the opening of new U.S. Commercial Service offices across the continent. The U.S. Commercial Service helps U.S. businesses start exporting or increase sales to new global markets. By expanding its Commercial Service teams in Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, and Libya, and opening offices in Angola, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Mozambique for the first time, the Department of Commerce hopes to help U.S. businesses find their next customer abroad and create jobs in Africa.

U.S.-Africa Business Success Stories: How a Texas Oil Company Started Doing Business in Cameroon and Morocco

Note: This post is part of the U.S.-Africa Business Success Stories series highlighting the work of the Department of Commerce to strengthen the economic relationship between U.S. and African businesses. This series will lead up to the U.S. Africa Business Forum on August 5th, the first of its kind event, which will convene African heads of state and government, U.S. government officials and business leaders to discuss trade and investment opportunities on the continent.

The geographic distance between Texas-based Arnold Oil Company and Sub-Saharan Africa may be thousands of miles, but their economic relationship has never been closer. U.S. businesses like the Arnold Oil Company are increasingly finding economic opportunity in Sub-Saharan Africa: between 2001 to 2012, U.S. trade to sub-Saharan Africa tripled from $6.9 billion to $22.5 billion dollars. Africa is now home to six of the top ten fastest growing economies in the world, leading President Obama to call sub-Saharan Africa the “world’s next major economic success story.” That is why the Department of Commerce is working to facilitate and advocate for American businesses in this growing region, and U.S. firms are eager to help unlock even more of Africa’s economic potential.

A family-owned supplier of automotive and oil lubricant products, the Arnold Oil Company became interested in expanding its business abroad. They met with the U.S. Export Assistance Center (USEAC) in Austin to request assistance in developing an exporting and marketing plan for their products. After creating a plan that satisfied the company, the USEAC arranged for a meeting with a representative from the U.S. Export-Import Bank to assist the Arnold Oil Company with financing its exports.

But the USEAC took its assistance one step further, introducing the Arnold Oil Company to a buyer in Cameroon, who eventually was signed as a distributer. As a result of this relationship, the Arnold Oil Company was able to ship their first exports of oil lubricants to Morocco, generating revenue of more than $24,000 in 2013. With assistance from the USEAC, the Arnold Oil Company was able to expand its business into one of the most economically dynamic regions in the world.

Commerce Connects U.S. Businesses to Opportunities in Africa’s Power Sector

Energy for Africa: 600 million people, 70% of the population of Sub-Saharan Africa are without electricity

With its fast-growing middle class and tremendous human, agricultural, and mineral resources, the continent of Africa is attracting investors and businesses from all around the world. Home to seven of the world’s ten fastest-growing economies, Sub-Saharan Africa outpaces global average growth. That is why, in 2012, President Obama launched the Presidential Policy Directive (PPD) on Sub-Saharan Africa, now known as the U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa. The Strategy recognizes that Africa holds the promise to be “the world’s next major economic success story,” and the Commerce Department is working help businesses be part of that success story by promoting U.S. trade and investment through the Doing Business in Africa (DBIA) campaign.

Today, the Commerce Department’s Minority Business Development Agency’s (MBDA), Miami MBDA Business Center hosted the Power Africa B2B Summit to promote the public-private partnership model envisioned by President Obama’s Power Africa Initiative. President Obama announced Power Africa last year as an initiative to double the number of people with access to power in Sub-Saharan Africa, where 600 million people lack access to electricity. The United States is investing more than $7 billion in this effort.

At today’s Summit, prominent government and business leaders, including Nigeria’s Power Minister the Honorable Muhammed Wakil, CEOs of Africa’s major power companies, and representatives from the U.S. Export-Import Bank and USAID, joined MBDA to share opportunities for accessing the energy sector in African markets.

Why is Everyone Talking About Africa?

President Obama and Senegal President Sall at press conference. Photo by White House, Pete Souza.

Claudia Easton is an intern in the International Trade Administration’s Office of the National Export Initiative and Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee. She’s studying Economics and Political Science at Amherst College. Cross-posted from Tradeology.

With the President’s recent trip to Senegal, Tanzania and South Africa, as well as the announcement of two new trade initiatives, the spotlight is on Africa – and with good reason.

While speaking at the Business Leaders Forum in Tanzania, President Obama spoke of beginning a new level of economic engagement with Africa. The Doing Business in Africa Campaign (DBIA) is part of the president’s strategy, and the International Trade Administration (ITA) is proud to join other government agencies to support  DBIA initiatives that are helping U.S. businesses compete on the continent.

Trade Africa aims to facilitate expanded trade on the continent. Its initial focus will be on the East African Community (EAC), a market with increasingly stable and pro-business regulations. The plan will support increased U.S.-EAC trade and investment, EAC trade competitiveness, and regional integration. The United States seeks to expand this initiative to other regional economic communities on the continent.

Power Africa is intended to build on Africa’s enormous power potential to expand electricity access to the more than two-thirds of the population that is without power. The President pledged $7 billion in U.S. government support, in addition to $9 billion in private money, over the next five years to double access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa. Power Africa will help attract investment in Africa’s energy sector, build capacity for reform in the energy sector, and encourage transparent and responsible natural resource management.

Exporting to Africa: The Success of the DBIA Campaign

President Obama and Senegal President Sall at press conference. Photo by White House, Pete Souza.

President Obama believes sub-Saharan Africa could be the world’s next major economic success story. That is why in June 2012, he issued the U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa (PDF) to escalate the U.S. efforts to stimulate economic growth, trade, and investment in the region. One year later, the President is in Africa to highlight our success under this strategy.

A key component of the President’s strategy is the Doing Business in Africa (DBIA) Campaign, which was launched by the U.S. Department of Commerce in Johannesburg, South Africa last November. Its main objective is to bolster federal trade promotion and financing capabilities in order to help U.S. businesses obtain trade and investment opportunities. With these opportunities, the United States’ commercial relationship with Africa will continue to grow.  

Since its unveiling, Commerce has been working alongside other federal agencies to encourage U.S. companies–with a focus on small- and medium- sized businesses and African Diaspora-owned business–to trade and invest in the region. A little more than six months into the Doing Business in Africa Campaign, we wanted to share some of successes with you.