U.S. works to connect businesses with Sub-Saharan market. Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank last week launched the “Doing Business in Africa” campaign at an event in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The campaign to promote economic growth, trade and investment in Africa, is part of a larger U.S. strategy toward Sub-Saharan Africa issued by President Obama in June. The strategy aims to help countries in the region diversify their economies beyond natural resources development, remove trade impediments and foster strong governance structures.
The “Doing Business” campaign is designed to help U.S. companies, especially small businesses, take advantage of many federal trade promotion and financing capabilities and gain access to opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa. In that regard, it also fits within the administration’s National Export Initiative.
Sub-Saharan Africa had combined GDP of $1.25 trillion in 2011 and includes six of the 10 fastest-growing economies in the world, according to the World Bank. U.S. merchandise exports to the region have tripled in the past decade and now total more than $21 billion. The International Monetary Fund projects sub-Saharan Africa to grow between 5 and six percent annually during the next two years.
Still trade with Africa only accounts for 2.6 percent of total U.S. trade.
Trade promotion efforts will include:
- Launch of an Africa Global Business Summit Series in 2013 where U.S. companies will hear directly from U.S. ambassadors and senior commercial officers about opportunities in the region. For example, the State Department announced that U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria Terence McCulley on Sunday began a two-week, four-city tour of the United States to educate American businesses about the Nigerian marketplace. Stops include the International Workboat Show in New Orleans and a utility conference in Orlando, Fla. While in the United States, he will also meet with business, academic and diaspora representatives in Houston and Atlanta.
- Expanded trade promotion programs tailored toward Africa, including targeted trade missions and enhanced International Buyer Program (IBP) events to bring more Africa buyer delegations to the United States.
- Enhanced Africa-focused export counseling by training federal trade specialists.
- A dedicated online Africa Business Portal directing businesses to the federal resources they need to succeed in African markets and presenting export and investment opportunities.
Agencies such as the Overseas Private Investment Corp., Export-Import Bank, and U.S. Trade and Development Agency will build upon current efforts, by:
- Opening the U.S.-Africa Clean Energy Development and Finance Center in Johannesburg in 2013 to provide the U.S. private sector, as well as Sub-Saharan African partners, with a centralized means to identify and access U.S. government support for clean energy export and investment needs.
- Advancing the recently announced U.S.-Africa Clean Energy Finance (ACEF) Initiative, a $20 million collaborative financing mechanism developed by the State Department, OPIC, and USTDA to increase support for U.S. businesses and exporters in sub-Saharan Africa’s clean energy sector.
During her remarks, Blank noted the success of the African Growth and Opportunity Act to increase U.S. purchases of African products through reduced tariffs. Non-petroleum exports under AGOA have tripled to nearly $5 billion and more than twice the number of eligible countries are shipping non-commodity goods compared to a decade ago.
One of the Commerce Department’s goals is to connect African businesses to global markets and she highlighted the International Trade Administration’s recent success in linking X-Chem, a woman-owned AGOA exporter, to the Walmart/Massmart supply chain.
Blank also met with a multi-sector trade mission of 13 firms led by Francisco Sánchez which is traveling to Zambia and South Africa.
New member added to APEC business council. Caterpillar Inc. Chief Financial Officer Ed Rapp has been appointed to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Business Advisory Council.
He replaces Richard Lavin, also of Caterpillar, according to the U.S. State Department.
APEC was formed in 1995 as a forum to facilitate economic growth, trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region. Under APEC, the United States and 20 other economies promote regional economic integration and address a wide range of issues related to regional prosperity and economic security.
Each APEC economy can have up to three business representatives on the Business Advisory Council. The other U.S. representative is Bart Peterson, senior vice president for corporate affairs and communications at Eli Lilly and Co. The Council meets throughout the year to discuss policy recommendations, undertake activities to promote trade and investment and annually reports to APEC leaders.- Eric Kulisch