Posted at 5:45 PM
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker highlighted a number of Department of Commerce efforts and future commitments under President Obama’s Doing Business in Africa (DBIA) campaign at the U.S.-Africa Business Forum. The Forum, a day focused on trade and investment opportunities on the continent, is a part of President Obama’s broader U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, the largest event that any U.S. president has ever convened with African heads of state or government.
Co-hosted by the Department of Commerce and Bloomberg Philanthropies, the first-ever U.S.-Africa Business Forum was created to encourage African business investment in the United States and U.S. investment in Africa; foster transactions and deals; and help create jobs in the United States and Africa. During remarks at the Forum, President Obama announced that U.S. businesses have already committed to investing $14 billion in clean energy, aviation, banking, and construction, among other commitments totaling more than $33 billion that support economic growth in Africa and thousands of U.S. jobs.
“The U.S.-Africa Business Forum is as a catalytic opportunity for American companies to increase their economic partnerships and investment in Africa. This historic Forum also highlights the fact that a number of American businesses, many of which were aided by our trade assistance efforts, have announced deals worth more than $14 billion. These deals will come in sectors including construction, clean energy, banking, information technology and more. These agreements clearly demonstrate that America is open for more business with Africa as the Continent’s economic ascent is just beginning,” said Secretary Pritzker. "As America’s Chief Commercial Advocate, I know that selling more U.S. goods and services in overseas markets creates good jobs here at home. Each day, 250,000 Americans go to work in jobs supported by exports to Africa and these deals will lead to increased prosperity on both sides of the Atlantic in the months ahead. That is a good thing for Americans and for Africans alike.”
The Commerce Department coordinates federal efforts in support of the Doing Business in Africa campaign, which was launched as part of the Administration’s U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa in 2012. DBIA aims to increase U.S. trade promotion to Africa, address market barriers, expand the availability of trade financing, and attract more American companies to explore sub-Saharan Africa trade and investment opportunities.
As part of efforts to further strengthen trade and financial ties, President Obama signed an Executive Orderdirecting the Secretary of Commerce to establish a President’s Advisory Council on DBIA. The council, comprised of a maximum of 15 private sector representatives, will work to promote broad-based economic growth in the United States and Africa by encouraging U.S. companies to trade with and invest in the continent.
Additional Department of Commerce initiatives announced during the Forum include:
- Global City Teams Program: The Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), in partnership with the private sector, announced the Global City Teams Challenge to create teams of communities worldwide working together to accelerate smart city and smart grid goals on issues ranging from air quality to emergency services coordination.
- Trade Winds Program: The Department’s International Trade Administration (ITA) will host its next Trade Winds Conference and Mission in Africa in 2015. The Trade Winds program brings hundreds of U.S. companies to a region to hear about opportunities, meet one-on-one with African businesses, and get counseling from U.S. Commercial Service officers. Past Trade Winds have been held in Asia and Latin America and resulted in more than $100 million in deals at each event.
- Discover Global Market Series: To celebrate the second anniversary of the DBIA Campaign, the Department of Commerce will host a “Discover Sub-Saharan Africa” conference in Atlanta from November 4-6. Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) will join the Constituency for Africa in hosting a “Doing Business in Africa” workshop in October to promote business and trade opportunities on the continent and resources for reaching the African marketplace. MBDA also committed to host a U.S.-Africa Investors Forum on August 6, in association with the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit.
- 20x20 Initiative: Commerce and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency launched the 20x20 Initiative, which aims to support 20 trade missions by 2020 to promote U.S. industry engagement in Africa. Working with federal, state, and local government partners, these missions will foster U.S. business partnerships with key African stakeholders and help expand business access to new markets throughout the continent.
- Expanded Commercial Service: The Department is currently expanding its overseas resources to help U.S. businesses navigate additional global markets and sell their goods and services to customers all over the world. The Department’s U.S. Commercial Service will more than double its presence in Africa, opening offices in Angola, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Mozambique, and expanding offices in Kenya, Ghana, Morocco, and Libya. Additional Commercial Service staff in Africa will give U.S. companies greater access to various programs and initiatives.
The Commerce Department also released a report on U.S. exports, imports, and investment with sub-Sahara Africa since 2009 to increase awareness of the continent’s rapid economic growth. The report highlights sectors of growth, metro areas that have benefited, and information on U.S. companies that export to Africa. The report is housed on Commerce’s newly launched Doing Business in Africa website, a one-stop shop providing American businesses and entrepreneurs with accessible critical African market information, available financing tools, projects to consider, and key contacts.