US and Africa to make trade history - US govt official

US and Africa to make trade history - US govt official
US President Barack Obama and African Union chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Picture: Saul Loeb
Published
Wednesday, 16 September 2015 ~ STEFAN SELIG

In July, US President Barack Obama visited Africa and shared an important message at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi and at the African Union in Addis Ababa. He said: "As Africa changes, I’ve called on the world to change its approach to Africa. So many Africans have told me, we don’t want just aid, we want trade that fuels progress. We don’t want patrons, we want partners who help us build our own capacity to grow. We don’t want the indignity of dependence, we want to make our own choices…"

Today, citizens of countries across sub-Saharan Africa are certainly making their own choices and determining their own futures, represented by the fact that the economies in this region are among the fastest growing in the world. And when it comes to the US-Africa commercial relationship, more than at any other time in history, these countries are equal stakeholders in our business and trade relationships.

The US and Africa stand as engines of mutual economic growth and prosperity. African exports of nonpetroleum goods since 2009 have doubled, creating and sustaining more than a million jobs in Africa. The US was also a leading driver behind the region, achieving a record in foreign direct investment of about $80bn last year.

As the head of the International Trade Administration, an agency whose mandate is to create opportunities for US businesses by promoting international trade and attracting foreign direct investment, I fully understand how African businesses are creating such opportunities. On the US side, goods exports to Africa have increased by nearly 60% since 2009, and these exports support 250,000 US jobs.

But today, the total amount of US trade with every African country is roughly equal to our trade relationship with Brazil. There is enormous potential for us to do so much more. By deepening our commercial engagement in Africa, we can generate even greater growth and prosperity for Africans and Americans.

Trade Winds-Africa will help ensure that our partnerships continue to deepen and expand. It is the largest US government-sponsored trade mission to Africa yet, involving about 108 US companies, and it is coming to Johannesburg today. In addition to a business development forum and trade mission in SA, Trade Winds will stop in seven other sub-Saharan African countries.

Forum participants will include local and US market experts, Fortune 500 companies, small businesses and government decision makers. Our Commercial Service and State Department will organise business networking events with leading industry and government officials at the forum, and meetings with potential partners at the trade mission stops. And when it is over, not only will we have conducted the largest trade mission to Africa in US history, I hope we will see new trade deals that will benefit countries on both sides of the Atlantic.

Trade Winds-Africa is a critical element of our Doing Business in Africa campaign, an unprecedented whole-of-US government effort to deepen commercial engagement between the US and African countries. Under the campaign, US companies have announced new deals worth more than $14bn; the secretary of commerce has established the President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa, comprising business leaders who advise the president through the secretary of commerce on strengthening commercial engagement between the US and Africa; and Obama has announced the Power Africa campaign, which will work to add 30,000 new megawatts of electricity generation capacity to this part of the world.

As we embark on this historic trade mission it is important to recognise what Trade Winds-Africa and our larger commercial partnership represent: that the relationship between the US and African countries is more mutually beneficial, prosperous, and consequential than ever. And the trajectory is upward.

  • Selig is US Under-Secretary of Commerce for International Trade

 

View related news articles

Biden’s fast-track Trade Authority (TPA) is set to expire this week

President Joe Biden is about to lose one of his main tools for getting trade agreements passed in Congress, dimming the outlook for deals already in the works with the U.K. and Kenya [See trade data below this article]. Trade Promotion Authority, or TPA, fast-track negotiating ability delegated to the U.S. president by Congress, is set to expire on Thursday. [See a FAQ guide here] That power, which was granted under the Trade Act of 1974,...

29 June 2021

Opinion | 'Africa's eyes are on Biden's prioritisation of continental trade'

When Donald Trump leaves the US capital tonight with his tail between his legs, it will be a moment of great relief for many Africans too. Like many in his own country, we've had it with his delusions of grandeur and, quite frankly, even Dinner at Somizi's was more entertaining than Trump's late-night tweets. With the possible exception of ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe who, last year, urged us to pray for Trump's re-election, many of us...

20 January 2021

Former US negotiator: US-Kenya deal could spur regional value chains

A trade deal with the U.S. could help both Kenya and its neighbors in the East African Community by fostering the development of regional value chains, a former U.S. trade official tells Inside U.S. Trade. “I think it’d be really fascinating as we go forward with this U.S.-Kenya FTA to see what’s going to be possible not just for Kenya but for other African countries in various sectors,” Florie Liser, a former assistant U.S. Trade...

10 February 2020

President Trump announces intent to negotiate trade agreement with Kenya

President Donald J. Trump today announced the United States intends to initiate trade agreement negotiations with the Republic of Kenya following a meeting at the White House with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.  “Kenya is a recognized leader across the continent, an important strategic partner of the United States, and there is enormous potential for us to deepen our economic and commercial ties,” said United States Trade...

06 February 2020

US, Kenya reportedly to start trade talks seen as template for Africa

The U.S. and Kenya are expected to announce negotiations on a free-trade agreement next week, America’s first such deal with a sub-Saharan country, a person familiar with the plans said. The Trump administration wants the accord to be a model for future pacts with other nations in the region, one of the people said, declining to be identified because the talks are private. An announcement on the discussion will coincide with Kenyan...

29 January 2020

Looking forward: US-Africa relations [incl. Video]

Editor's Note: On March 26, 2019, Brahima Coulibaly testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations. His written testimony on Africa's rapid transformation and U.S.-Africa relations follows. Thank you, Chairwoman Bass and Ranking Member Smith, for your leadership with respect to U.S. engagement with Africa. Your active role in fostering the...

26 March 2019

US should shift focus in Africa from aid to trade, analysts and officials say

The U.S. needs a new approach to Africa that is focused more on developing commercial ties and less on providing aid, analysts and government officials said Friday. Speaking at a Center for Strategic and International Studies event, Erin Walsh, assistant secretary of Commerce for global markets, said it was critical for the U.S. to pivot from a focus on aid to Africa to one of commercial engagement with African countries. To that end, she...

23 February 2018

USTR Lighthizer's African dream

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer sparked a new conversation in trade circles on Wednesday when he floated the idea of the Trump administration launching bilateral trade negotiations with an African country "before very long."  "Personally, I think that before very long we're going to have to pick out an African country — properly selected — and enter into a free trade agreement with that country," he said in an...

01 February 2018

USTR Lighthizer: US will soon select an African country for a 'model' free trade deal

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer expects the U.S. will soon strike a free trade deal with a “properly selected” African country that will become a model for others in the region, he said on Wednesday.   During a radio interview at the White House, Lighthizer was asked about the potential for U.S. trade in the African region – something covered by the African Growth and Opportunities Act, which he said was...

31 January 2018

Sourcing Journal: An uncertain future for AGOA?

Sub-Saharan Africa has both been the land of sourcing opportunity and the land where trade was most likely to remain close to status quo amid other potential adjustments to U.S. agreements. Now, the U.S. may be set to take a closer look at the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which affords eligible African countries duty free sourcing to the U.S. AGOA was renewed in 2015 and is set to remain in place until 2025, at which point it...

20 June 2017

Cooperating, not competing, in Africa: a case for Transatlantic rapprochement

With the African Growth & Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum ending in Washington this week and the European Parliament approving further trade agreements with six African states earlier this month, the apparent race for African trade continues to intensify. This is no great surprise given the GDP of Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is expected to grow 30 percent faster than the rest of the world over the next five years. By 2030, the region will have...

07 October 2016