Following stops in Ghana and Nigeria, Secretary Pritzker Focuses on AGOA Renewal in Ethiopia
AGOA is one critical tool to continue deepening trade and investment ties between the U.S. and Africa
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker concluded her visit to Africa with a stop in Ethiopia, where she met with President Mulatu Teshome and private sector leaders to discuss ways to increase bilateral trade and investment between the U.S. and Ethiopia. Secretary Pritzker underscored the U.S. commitment to renewal of the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA) as one tool that will continue to deepen trade relations between the U.S. and Ethiopia, and the entire African continent.
AGOA allows 6,400 products from eligible Sub-Saharan African countries to enter the U.S. duty free. In 2013, U.S. imports under AGOA totaled $26.8 billion, and the Obama Administration is committed to renewing AGOA before it expires in 2015. In addition to renewal, the Administration is interested in ways to update the legislation to encourage diversification within Africa’s economies, which will better support the Continent’s growth, development and competitiveness.
Secretary Pritzker was joined in Ethiopia by Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-Calif.), who sits on the House Foreign Relations Committee.
“One of the ways the United States can serve as a partner in Ethiopia’s growth and development is through an expanded trade and investment relationship,” said Secretary Pritzker. “In Ethiopia and across Africa, we must ensure that our trade through AGOA is reaching its full potential, encompassing a variety of industry sectors, and including small and medium-sized companies and entrepreneurs.”
The fast growth in Ethiopia’s economy is also generating an increase in the number of U.S. firms looking to do more business in the country. Ethiopia’s gross domestic product has grown an average of 9.1 percent over the last 10 years, making it Africa’s second fastest-growing economy and the sixth fastest-growing economy in the world. One of the ways the Department of Commerce helps companies take advantage of mutually-beneficial commercial opportunities in Africa and around the world is through the Foreign Commercial Service, teams that work out of Embassies specifically to help American businesses find new partners and customers overseas. The Department of Commerce recently announced that it will nearly double the Foreign Commercial Service footprint in Africa, opening its first-ever offices in Ethiopia, Angola, Tanzania and Mozambique, and expanding teams in four other countries.
West Africa Trade Mission Recap
Earlier last week, Secretary Pritzker led a delegation of 20 U.S. businesses on a trade mission to Ghana and Nigeria focused on Africa’s energy sector. The trade mission was meant to further President Obama’s goal, as outlined in the Administration’s Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa, of furthering trade and investment relationships across the African continent, which is home to seven of the 10 fastest-growing economies in the world.
“American companies are in Africa and more American companies want to be in Africa,” said Secretary Pritzker. “This trade mission has already helped U.S. companies take advantage of mutually-beneficial opportunities to do business in Ghana and Nigeria, in particular. Ensuring that American firms are primed to do business in Africa will not only help the African people realize greater economic success, but will also fuel growth and job creation in the United States.”
The trip included many positive outcomes:
· Charlotte-based renewable energy company SEWW was selected by the Electricity Company of Ghana to lead a $25 million/year upgrade and expansion project in the Greater Accra Region. The project will span seven years and includes efforts to improve the transmission and distribution of electricity in Ghana. Within the seven year time frame, SEWW energy has been authorized to provide products and services in support of the project that will include network transmission, the rebuilding of substations, and the design of smart grids. SEWW will spearhead solutions to reduce the cost of power supply and address security, reliability, and efficiency. Additionally, SEWW Energy will train local citizens in Ghana to operate and maintain the new infrastructure.
· Environmental Chemical Corporation, based in California, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with University College Hospital, Ibadan for the finance, design and construction of a new, state-of-the-art cancer institute. The University College Hospital, Ibadan was established by an act of the Nigerian parliament in November 1952 in response to the need for the training of medical personnel and other healthcare professionals for the country and the West African Sub-Region. The accident and emergency (A & E) Department of the University College Hospital averages 6,000 patients annually, and 150,000 patients are attended to through the hospital various clinics each year.
· Ellicott Dredges, a Baltimore-based firm, signed multiple deals in Nigeria to provide dredges in-country.
U.S.-Africa CEO Forum
While in Nigeria, Secretary Pritkzer also announced that the Department of Commerce and Bloomberg Philanthropies will co-host the inaugural U.S.-Africa Business Forum on the first day of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in August. The Forum will focus on U.S. private sector engagement in Africa in the areas of finance and capital investment, infrastructure, power and energy, agriculture, consumer goods, and information and communications technology.
Heads of state will engage with business executives from both sides of the Atlantic in conversations about successes and solutions that will help strengthen trade and investment in Africa.