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Remarks by Deputy Secretary Karen Dunn Kelley at the Corporate Council on Africa’s U.S.-Africa Business Summit in Maputo, Mozambique

Good morning, and thank you, Florie, for your kind introduction. I’d also like to thank President Nyusi for hosting.

Your excellencies, honorable ministers, members of the diplomatic corps, distinguished guests, and ladies and gentleman.

It’s an absolute honor to be in Maputo, Mozambique on behalf of: the President of the United States and the U.S. Secretary of Commerce at the biennial “Corporate Council on Africa’s” U.S.-Africa Business Summit, which has now been held every two years since 1997. I’m also proud to continue the series of important visits to Africa by the Trump Administration and to join the ranks of: First Lady Melania Trump and Ivanka Trump in raising the profile of women in Africa. 

Let me begin by expressing my deepest condolences to the people of Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe for your recent losses from cyclones Kenneth and Idai (pronounced EE-DIE). As the U.S. Government and business community moves from assisting with disaster relief to playing a leadership role in the international recovery efforts, know that the thoughts and prayers of the American government and people are with you.

In 2017, the Secretary of Commerce had the honor of opening the U.S.-Africa Business Summit in Washington, D.C., where he gave the Administration’s first cabinet-level speech on U.S. trade with Africa. The Secretary highlighted Africa’s spectacular rise, noting the explosive economic growth, the rapid urbanization, and the massive expansion of Africa’s consumer class.

Two years later, Africa continues to RISE. Africa’s GDP growth forecast is projected at 4 percent this year, up from 3.5 percent in 2018, making Africa the fastest growing region in the world after Asia, according to the African Development Bank. In addition, the International Monetary Fund forecasts that, this year, 6 of the top 10 fastest-growing economies in the world will be in Africa. I’m confident that, in the next five years, Mozambique will be on that list. 

In that spirit, yesterday, I had the privilege of experiencing the signing of the Final Investment Decision for a 20-billion-dollar investment, the largest in Africa’s history, by the U.S. company Anadarko. This is a transformational investment for Mozambique and for the African continent at-large.

When the Secretary spoke to you in 2017, he raised a critical question that decision makers in Africa, including many of you, will have to grapple with in the coming years: As these upward growth trends continue, with what types of partners do you want to collaborate? The U.S. government has sustained its commitment to the African continent, by continuing to serve as the world’s largest donor of foreign aid, providing over 9 billion dollars a year to support Sub-Saharan Africa.

When it comes to trade, however, there is room for great progress and opportunity. U.S. exports into Africa have decreased by 32 percent from their 2014 high. And we want to work with you to better understand how to reverse this trend. We know that American companies offer an unrivaled value proposition. Yet, we have lost ground to the increasingly-sophisticated, but too often opaque business practices of foreign competitors.

There are many reasons for the decline in U.S. trade. Within the United States, the U.S. Government’s export credit and other financing tools were sidelined or not optimized for current challenges. Many U.S. small and medium sized enterprises have been unaware of the U.S. Government’s export, investment, and risk-mitigation tools. And, the U.S. Government’s personnel in Africa too often worked in silos.

Obstacles for U.S. companies within Africa are also substantial. The President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa or PAC-DBIA noted in their 2018 report, “one of the main reasons U.S. firms are not winning projects in Africa is because they are not competing.” The PAC-DBIA Council also identified a number of constraints U.S. companies face in doing business on the continent, including structural issues such as, developing infrastructure, actual and perceived risks and lack of data to calculate risks; financial issues for example, underdeveloped capital markets, currency volatility and lack of access to U.S. dollars, limits on foreign banking and high costs of foreign and local borrowing; regulatory and rule of law issues complicated laws and regulations, lack of transparency, and trade barrier issues such as, costly and time-consuming delays in customs practices and local content requirements.

To address these challenges, this Administration has launched a series of important trade and investment initiatives between the United States and Africa: In October 2018, President Trump signed the “Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development” or BUILD Act into law. This established the new U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), which doubled the cap on their financing opportunities; and strengthened the focus on new frontier markets, including those in Africa. Congress recently reinstated the U.S. Export-Import Bank (EXIM) Board quorum in May 2019. The Trump Administration is also expanding efforts in Africa to promote procurement practices focused on best value.

President Trump also signed legislation in April 2018 that supports efforts to maximize utilization of preferences under the African Growth and Opportunity Act or AGOA—to increase the number of African nations utilizing AGOA and provides the USG’s Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) increased flexibility.

In 2018, the Administration launched Power Africa 2.0 to further develop innovative ideas and enterprise-driven approaches to help expand power opportunities across the African continent.

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative also announced in August 2018 its intent to negotiate a bilateral free trade agreement with an African partner that can serve as the basis for agreements with other African countries.

The United States Department of Commerce has also signed Memoranda of Understandings (MOU) with the Governments of Cȏte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, and Kenya to increase bilateral trade and investment.

Today, I’m very pleased to add another nation to that list, as we announce that the United States will be signing a Memorandum of Understanding with Mozambique. These MOUs are designed to collectively identify priority projects in key sectors. The United States will then share that information with U.S. companies to pursue the identified projects, as well as identify U.S. Government resources. The MOUs also establish a forum for the governments to address and resolve business climate issues.

The Secretary of Commerce and Under Secretary of the International Trade Administration led members of the PAC-DBIA on a historic, four-country fact-finding trip to Africa last summer. That trip led to the signing of nearly $2 billion dollars in deals and commercial engagements and the four previously mentioned commercial MOUs. The 2016-2018 term of the PAC-DBIA was an enormous success, thank you.

I am thrilled today to announce the new members of the 2019 to 2021 term.

The new members are executives from the following companies:

•    UPS
•    GE
•    Abbott
•    ABD Group
•    Acrow Bridge
•    Akola
•    American Tower Corporation
•    APR Energy
•    Bechtel
•    Caterpillar
•    Cigna
•    Citi
•    Credence ID
•    CrossBoundary Group
•    Dow Chemical Company
•    IBM
•    John Deere
•    Kosmos Energy
•    Mastercard
•    Pfizer
•    Rendeavour Inc.
•    Shea Yeleen
•    Synnove Energy
•    Varian Medical Systems
•    Vermeer Corporation
•    Visa

We are fortunate to have these companies’ engagement to help inform implementation of the Administration’s new initiative on Africa, Prosper Africa. We realized—with the help of PAC-DBIA—that we need a coordinated, whole-of-government approach to increase U.S.-Africa trade.

We know that the U.S. Government can and must do more to capitalize on the competitive advantage of U.S. companies and the entrepreneurial spirit of the African people.

For this reason, I am proud to roll out today, here in the presence of Heads of States and Honorable Ministers, and private sector representatives, additional details on the Administration’s new signature initiative, Prosper Africa. The goal of Prosper Africa is quite simple: We seek to substantially increase two-way trade and investment between the United States and Africa. Prosper Africa will accomplish this goal by focusing on three coordinated lines of effort. First, we will synchronize the capabilities and initiatives of the 15 plus U.S. Government agencies. We will ensure that our efforts to facilitate company deals are coordinated with technical assistance and capacity building and facilitated by timely policy engagement. This will provide an easy-to-use, one stop shop. Second, Prosper Africa will help facilitate transactions. We will modernize and coordinate the resources of U.S. agencies to help U.S. companies better identify commercial opportunities in Africa, taking advantage of the Commerce Department’s professionals in over 100 U.S. cities. Working in interagency deal teams, U.S. Government experts can offer support to assist companies in project preparation, such as feasibility studies, connect companies to potential U.S. Government financing and risk mitigation tools, and where applicable, help to expedite the deal through official U.S. Government advocacy. In concert, and as the third line of effort, Prosper Africa will: build African capacity to encourage private-sector led economic growth and work to remove trade barriers that inhibit U.S. companies from taking advantage of business opportunities in African markets, and often impeded the growth of African companies as well.

As you can clearly see, prosper Africa is not a traditional aid program, but rather an ambitious new program squarely focused on expanding trade and investment relationships between the U.S. and Africa.

For years, African leaders, have asked the world to view Africa as a continent ripe with opportunity. You have told the world that Africa’s future lies in free flows of investment and trade not exclusively in development and aid.

With Prosper Africa, I am proud to say that the United States of America has not only heard you, but we have listened and are taking action! You will have a chance today to hear more about Prosper Africa: Administrator Green from U.S. Agency for International Development will speak later today. There will be a panel discussion on Friday on U.S. Tools to Support U.S.-Africa Trade and Investment. And, lastly, Prosper Africa will be featured in the plenary hall from 10:30am to noon on Thursday and Friday.

In closing, I want to say thank you: For welcoming the American delegation to your nation, President Nyusi; for all of the hospitality that has been shown; and, most importantly, for the openness to a new era of America Africa business partnership through Prosper Africa.

On behalf of the Secretary of Commerce, and the American people, thank you for welcoming us to your beautiful country and we look forward to many years of partnership ahead!

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