Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Statement by Secretary Kerry On Ethiopia’s National Day

Department of State
Washington, DC
May 28, 2013

On behalf of the government and the people of the United States, I am delighted to express our congratulations and best wishes to the government and people of Ethiopia as you celebrate your national day on May 28.

In Addis Ababa recently to participate in the Summit commemorating the African Union’s 50th anniversary, I experienced personally the warmth of the U.S.-Ethiopian relationship.

The United States and Ethiopia share a strong history as friends and partners. With the government and the people of Ethiopia, we strive to promote economic growth and development, democratic governance and respect for human rights, and security and stability in the Horn of Africa.

The United States is committed to helping Ethiopia achieve a more peaceful and prosperous future, and we look forward to enriching our partnership as we seek to achieve common goals.

As you gather with family and friends on your national day, the United States wishes you a joyous celebration.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sec. Kerry’s Remarks at African Union 50th Anniversary Summit Leaders Dinner

State Department Photo

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
May 25, 2013

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very much. Good evening, everybody. The last thing anybody needs is a long speech after a long (inaudible) middle of dinner. So let me just say very, very quickly I want to thank (inaudible) Dlamini Zuma. I thank her for her stewardship (inaudible) and Prime Minister Hailemariam for his welcome here and for his leadership of the African Union.

Let me just say (inaudible) that without exaggeration, the legacy of the progress in the African Union over its first half century I think (inaudible) really excites us about the possibility of the next 50 years. The United States joins with so many other nations – the Secretary General, Russia, many other friends that are here – all to applaud the remarkable accomplishments, to work together and solve (inaudible) peace, security challenges, (inaudible), trade, defense, democracy, good governance, human rights. And I know that all of you are acutely tuned into and sensitive to the way that Africa is looking forward (inaudible) and the way that it’s looking forward literally excites the world. And your commitment to move forward has put Africa in a position to seize the 21st century in ways that will transform the lives of millions of people on this continent yet also in the world.

I am privileged also to share on a personal level an affection that my wife Teresa (inaudible) about Africa years ago. (Inaudible) she was born during some of those questionable days – today, but obviously not by her choice, born in what today is Mozambique. She grew up in what is now Maputo. She studied in Johannesburg, and as a student she was proud to march against apartheid. That was the old Africa. (applause). That was the old Africa. We have come here because of the efforts of Africans to celebrate the new Africa. What an incredible, incredible journey as you take on complex challenges and transform yourselves into one of the most creative, exciting, and promising places on the planet.

Yes, there are struggles. Of course there are. But today, war and strife in Africa are less common than freedom and development. Today, the rule of strongmen is less common than multiparty democracies. Credible elections, peaceful transfers of power, like those that we recently saw in Liberia and Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Zambia, where competing candidates go to the courts instead of the streets, as in Kenya and in Ghana. These are the true marks of democracy and change. I will personally say that I will never forget. I worked very hard on the CPA. I’ve worked very hard on Sudan and (inaudible) South Sudan.

And I’ll never forget the day that I stood in Juba as I went around to polling places and I listened to people excited at the opportunity to vote. And one woman was talking about how hard it was, and I turned to her and I said, “Please don’t get so impatient that you leave.” She looked at me and she sort of laughed as she said, “Senator, I’ve been waiting 59 years for this moment. I’m not leaving.” The excitement of people to be able to finally vote, that was a remarkable day July 9th when finally a new nation came about. And we dare not forget that it came about not through force but through peaceful and careful negotiation matched by great patience, a lesson that referenda (inaudible) teaching and learning and passing on in country after country.

May I say one other quick thing that I want to share with you? One of the most breathtaking accomplishments on earth is the fact that today more people in Africa have access to drugs that combat AIDS and HIV than are people contracting those diseases. This is a transition of enormous proportion that everyone ought to be proud of. This year marks the 10th anniversary of PEPFAR, and it’s one of the programs that I am proudest of to have led through the United States Senate. I want to thank Ambassador Eric Goosby for his extraordinary work and stewardship of this program. Today in Ethiopia, we can finish what we started and we can witness an AIDS-free generation in the entire world (inaudible).

Finally, the great challenge that we all understand (inaudible). As we celebrate this 50th anniversary, six of the world’s ten fastest-growing countries are right here, and companies all over the world are taking off and coming here, and African companies are (inaudible) kind of growth we saw in Asia. But I will say this to you: Africa is home to the youngest population on earth, a population that is increasingly educated (inaudible) one-to-one to the rest of the world. And while nearly all of the leaders here are older than the African Union, the vast majority of Africans are younger than the African Union. Sixty percent of Africans are under the age of 30. In the next ten years, there will be more than 100 million more school-aged children in Africa. By the year 2050, more than a quarter of the world’s workforce will be African. And in the next three generations, more than 40 percent of the entire world’s youth will live in Africa. This is not just a challenge. This is an extraordinary opportunity, not just for Africans but for the world. But we will have to be vigilant (inaudible) education, jobs, and opportunity (inaudible).

On behalf of President Barack Obama, who is very much looking forward to visiting Tanzania, South Africa, and Senegal next month, I want to assure you that the United States of America is prepared and will stand united with Africa as we go forward. We look forward to partnering. The proverb tells us, “If you want to go quickly, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together.” In the coming days, Africa and the Americas go further than anyone could have imagined five or perhaps five decades ago. And I will tell you this: We are determined to do it together.

Thank you very much for this celebration. (Applause.)

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Washington, DC Mayor, Vincent Gray, Proclaims May 25th As Africa Day

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Mayor Vincent C. Gray has proclaimed Saturday, May 25th 2013 as “Africa Day” in the District of Columbia. In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of African Liberation Day, the Mayor’s Office on African Affairs (OAA) will partner with the Muslim Society of Washington, DC to host an informational workshop titled, Health Literacy and Wellness: Harnessing Culture for Community Health.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Africa Day Observed in Washington, DC

Photo courtesy of aaun.edu.au

Remarks by Reuben Brigety
Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs

Washington Hilton
Washington, DC

May 23, 2013
Thank you for that kind introduction. Ambassador Mombuli, Ambassador Baali, Ambassador Odembo, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, and all protocol observed, good evening. It is a distinct honor to be here with you this evening to celebrate Africa Day and all that this day represents – pride in the Continent, reverence for its history, its partnerships in the present, and faith in its future, lifting up the vision of an Africa that is peaceful, prosperous and proud.

It is fitting that on this particular Africa Day in 2013, we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the founding of the Organization of African Unity. Just as 1963 was a seminal year in the fight for freedom in Africa, so it was also seminal year in the fight for freedom in the United States. Just as brave freedom fighters fought for their independence in Kenya, Algeria and other places across Africa, so did brave citizens march for their freedom in Birmingham, Selma and other cities across America. Just as Africa’s founding fathers – like Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere, Jomo Kenyatta, Sekou Touré, Félix Houphouët-Boigny and Haile Selassie - created the OAU in Addis Ababa as an expression of unity amongst all Africans, so did Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. march on Washington to share his Dream as an expression of the inherent equality of all Americans. And, just as the African Union has evolved to be led by the first woman in its history – Dr. Nkosozana Dlamini-Zuma – so has our country evolved to be led by the first African-American in its history – President Barack Obama.

Yet the histories of our peoples – Africans and Americans – are much more than lives lived in parallel, like eucalyptus trees growing tall but separately. Instead, our histories are more like sturdy vines, weaving into each other as they grow toward the sunlight, increasingly and inevitably intertwined. The explosion of independent African states in the early 1960s gave hope to millions of oppressed people around the world, including here in the U.S., that freedom was on the march and that a brighter day was coming. The heroism of Nelson Mandela and the martyrdom of Stephen Biko inspired a generation of Americans to make common cause with those fighting to end the last vestiges of apartheid and colonialism in Africa. Prominent Americans, like Dr. Ralph Bunche and Amb. Andrew Young, worked to midwife the birth of free African states from the Congo to Zimbabwe. The riveting prose of Chinua Achebe and the elegant verse of Leopold Senghor awakened the consciousness of Africans and Americans to the beauty and the challenges of contemporary Africa. And when the scourge of HIV/AIDS threatened to decimate a generation of young people across the continent, the United States responded with PEPFAR, spending billions of dollars to save millions of lives. We are, without a doubt, peoples inextricably linked.

To be certain, our common histories are also full of painful memories and instances of profound regret. It was the horror of the transatlantic slave trade that first brought Africans, including my ancestors, to the shores of North America in great numbers. Also, there is no doubt that our government could have and should have done more to support many of the liberation struggles in Africa. And former President Bill Clinton publicly and prominently apologized for the failure of the United States to do more to stop the genocide in Rwanda in 1994.

Yet anniversaries such as today offer an opportunity to embrace the future as well as a chance to reflect on the past. The United States is optimistic about Africa’s future, and we are committed to being a stalwart and unshakable partner in the project of building a prosperous Africa at peace with itself and the world. It is in recognition of our shared past and faith in our common future that President Obama will make an extended trip Africa in late June, accompanied by First Lady Michelle Obama. Yes, we are indeed confident in Africa’s future, particularly with regard to Africa’s political unity, growing economy, and expanding opportunity.

One of the most encouraging and exciting African developments in the last decade has been the degree to which the African Union – successor to the OAU – has set the pace for unified political standards and conflict resolution on the continent. It has taken an indispensable leadership role in addressing political crises from Madagascar to Mali. The adoption of the AU Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance by member states is a collective commitment to a transparent and participatory government. And the African Union Peer Review Mechanism is a powerful and admirable means for African states to hold themselves accountable to one another. It was in recognition of the potential of the AU to serve such a powerful role for Africa that the United States was proud to be the very first non-African country to accredit an ambassador solely to the African Union. Further, we were pleased that as one of her last acts of office, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signed a Memorandum of Understanding with AU Chairperson Dlamini-Zuma creating a Strategic Partnership between the United States and the African Union. And it is in recognition of the reality of the AU’s influence and importance today that Secretary of State John Kerry will attend the AU Summit and 50th Anniversary celebrations for the OAU in Addis Ababa this weekend, making him the first sitting US Secretary of State to attend an AU summit.

The spread of democracy and good governance is one of the key factors leading to increased economic growth in Africa. We are pleased to recognize that six of the ten fastest growing economies in the world are in Africa. In the past fifteen years, two-way trade between Africa and the United States has grown from $31 billion to $99 billion. The African Growth and Opportunity Act has opened the American market to some $424 billion of African imports over the last twelve years, and the Obama administration is committed to the renewal of AGOA in 2015. There is enormous economic potential in infrastructure, agribusiness, consumer goods, manufacturing and a host of other sectors beyond extractive industries. The U.S. Government recognizes that the economic future of Africa is bright, and we want to help American companies benefit from these opportunities by engaging, investing, and partnering with African businesses. For this reason, a number of very senior American delegations have travelled to Africa in the last year alone to showcase African commercial opportunities to American firms. This has included visits by Deputy National Security Advisor for Economic Affairs Michael Froman to Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Nigeria; Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank to South Africa and Kenya; and Commerce Under Secretary Franciso Sanchez to Zambia and South Africa, to name but a few. We will make every effort to show the American private sector that Africa is open for business, and that they should seek opportunities to engage, partner and invest there for our mutual benefit.

Finally, this trend of economic growth will hopefully lead to expanded opportunity for citizens across Africa. Africa is a young continent, with 60 percent of the total population under the age of 30. These young people have a great dynamism and hope for their future, but they will also need jobs and education to realize their individual potential and to contribute to the prosperity of their countries. For this reason, the Obama administration has pioneered the Young African Leadership Initiative, or YALI, which to date has engaged more than 250 young Africans in leadership training and networking with their peers across the continent. We continue to support over 260 students from 34 African countries to study in the United States through the Fulbright Program. And we are anxious to learn how we can be supportive of the Pan African University, which has great potential to revolutionize both the content and accessibility of tertiary education in Africa.

In conclusion, we should recognize that while our histories as Africans and Americans are well behind us, our future has yet to be written. As we celebrate this Africa Day, and reflect on the challenges and triumphs that have brought us to this moment, let us resolve to make our common future bright and prosperous, rooted in shared values, marked by mutual respect, and committed to dignity for all.

Thank you.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

United States Dedicates New Embassy Chancery in Bujumbura, Burundi

State Department Photo

Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
Washington, DC

May 21, 2013

In an important symbol of America’s commitment to an enduring friendship with the Republic of Burundi, U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Burundi, Dawn M. Liberi, dedicated the new U.S. Embassy in Bujumbura today.

Occupying a 10-acre site near the city center in Kigobe, the $133 million multi-building complex provides a state-of-the-art, environmentally-sustainable workplace for embassy personnel.

Perkins + Will of Washington, D.C. was the concept design architect and Einhorn Yaffee Prescott of Washington, D.C. was the architect of record. The project was constructed by Caddell Construction of Montgomery, Alabama.

The new facility incorporates numerous sustainable features to reduce operating costs and conserve resources, most notably an extensive system of over 950 photovoltaic panels; a white “cool” roof and the use of architectural shading of the building to reduce solar heat gain and energy cooling costs; and on-site treatment of wastewater that is reused for irrigation. An estimated 95% of construction waste was diverted from landfills for reuse by the local community. The facility has been registered with the U.S. Green Building Council for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) certification.

Since 1999, as part of the Department’s Capital Security Construction Program, OBO has completed 102 new diplomatic facilities and has an additional 40 projects in design or under construction.

OBO’s mission is to provide safe, secure, and functional facilities that represent the U.S. government to the host nation and support our staff in the achievement of U.S. foreign policy objectives. These facilities should represent American values and the best in American architecture, engineering, technology, sustainability, art, culture, and construction execution.

Monday, May 20, 2013

National Museum of African Art Director to Visit Nigeria

Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art
Washington, DC
May 17, 2013

Johnnetta Betsch Cole, director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art in Washington D.C., will lead a delegation to Abuja and Lagos Nigeria May 20-29. The purpose of her visit is to raise awareness for a new exhibition “Chief S.O. Alonge: Photographer to the Royal Court of Benin, Nigeria” which opens at the National Museum of African Art in September 2014. A press conference announcing the exhibition will take place Thursday, May 23 at ThisDAY offices in Abuja.

A VIP dinner will be held in Abuja on Sunday, May 26 to raise awareness. The dinner will be co-chaired by HRH Crown Prince Edaiken of the Benin Kingdom, The Nigerian Minister of Culture and Nduka Obaigbena, President of ThisDAY and ARISE Magazine, Gregory Ibe, Chancellor of Gregory University and Elizabeth Jibunoh, founder of the Didi Museum. The evening will be hosted by Television personality Soni Irabor.

About the Exhibition
The Chief S.O. Alonge exhibition is the collection of historic photographs that were captured on Kodak glass- plate negatives and large format film by Chief Solomon Osagie Alonge, one of Nigeria’s premier photographers during the 20th century. As the first indigenous photographer of the Royal Court of Benin, Alonge’s photographs reveal an insider’s view of the pageantry, ritual and regalia of the Benin Kingdom spanning several decades, which includes historic visits to Benin by Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip (1956), foreign dignitaries, traditional rulers, political leaders and celebrities. This collection preserves an important historical record of Benin art and culture during the periods of British colonial rule and Nigerian independence in the 20th century. The exhibition will showcase Benin royal arts and the role of photography in documenting cultural and historical traditions.

As Nigerians celebrate 100 years as a united country (1914–2014), this exhibition celebrates the role Nigerian photographers have played in addressing issues of identity, nationhood, and historical memory. As part of the fundraising, sponsorship funds will also be used to produce and send a copy of the exhibition photographs, texts (in electronic format) and graphic panels to Nigeria so that they are available to the National Commission of Museums and Monuments in Lagos and Benin.

About the National Museum of African Art

The National Museum of African Art is the nation’s premiere museum dedicated exclusively to the collection, conservation, study and exhibition of Africa’s traditional and contemporary arts. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., closed Dec. 25. Admission is free. The museum is located at 950 Independence Avenue S.W., near the Smithsonian Metrorail station on the Blue and Orange lines.

President Obama To Travel to Africa

Photo courtesy of www.time.com

Office of The Press Secretary
The White House

May 20, 2013

President Obama and the First Lady look forward to traveling to Senegal, South Africa, and Tanzania from June 26 – July 3. The President will reinforce the importance that the United States places on our deep and growing ties with countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including through expanding economic growth, investment, and trade; strengthening democratic institutions; and investing in the next generation of African leaders.

The President will meet with a wide array of leaders from government, business, and civil society, including youth, to discuss our strategic partnerships on bilateral and global issues. The trip will underscore the President’s commitment to broadening and deepening cooperation between the United States and the people of sub-Saharan Africa to advance regional and global peace and prosperity.


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Secretary John Kerry to Attend OAU Golden Jubilee In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

May 17, 2013

US Department of State
Statement by Jen Psaki, Spokesperson

Secretary Kerry will travel to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia May 24-25, to meet with senior Ethiopian officials to discuss bilateral issues and participate in the Golden Jubilee of the Organization of African Unity at the African Union Summit. He will also meet with African leaders attending the summit to discuss a range of regional, transnational, and country-specific topics.

On May 26, Secretary Kerry will depart Addis Ababa to Amman, where he will participate in the World Economic Forum.
The Secretary will depart Amman and return to Washington on May 27.

Statement by Secretary Kerry On Cameroon National Day

Department of State
Washington, DC

May 19, 2013

On behalf of President Obama and the American people, I congratulate the people of Cameroon and offer my best wishes as you celebrate your national day on May 20.

The United States and Cameroon have enjoyed a positive relationship since we first established diplomatic relations in 1960. Our relationship has blossomed over the years as we have worked to achieve our common goal of peace and stability in central Africa. More recently, we have joined together to combat wildlife trafficking and improve maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea.

The United States values its increasing economic partnership with Cameroon, which exceeded $557 million in bilateral trade in 2012. We look forward to building on this momentum.

The United States welcomes Cameroon’s progress in expanding its democratic institutions and looks toward the upcoming municipal and legislative elections as an opportunity to further consolidate democratic gains through a free and fair electoral process.

I offer you my best wishes on the occasion of this 53rd anniversary of Cameroon’s independence, and look forward to continued cooperation to promote peace, democracy, and economic growth in Cameroon and the region.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

United States Announces Additional Humanitarian Assistance to Mali

Djenne, Central Mali (File Photo)

Office of the Spokesperson

May 16, 2013

On May 15, 2013, at the Mali Donors’ Conference in Brussels, USAID Assistant Administrator for the Bureau of Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance Nancy Lindborg and Department of State Acting Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Don Yamamoto reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to Mali as the country returns to democracy, peace, and stability. Assistant Administrator Lindborg also announced that the United States is providing more than $32 million in additional humanitarian assistance to support Malians affected by the crisis.

The new assistance builds on the significant ongoing commitment of the United States to address the crisis in Mali. Although over $188 million in assistance to Mali, mostly to the government, was either terminated or suspended after the coup, the United States has continued to provide over $7 million in democracy assistance programming, $83 million in health support, $4.8 million in peace and security assistance, $33.5 million in economic growth programming, and, with today’s commitment of $32 million, more than $180 million in humanitarian assistance to Mali and Malian refugees.

This additional assistance will support the life-saving humanitarian work of UN agencies and non-governmental organizations in Mali and in neighboring countries. This includes essential protection and assistance through the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, food assistance through the World Food Program, humanitarian logistics through the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service, and shelter, food security, and health through other international organizations and NGOs.

Because the crisis in Mali is closely intertwined with regional dynamics we are also providing significant assistance to key partners in the Sahel region. Since fiscal year 2012, the United States is providing more than $550 million in humanitarian assistance to the Sahel, including this latest contribution. We are bringing our relief and development teams together for joint analysis and joint planning in support of efforts that build resilience to the region’s recurrent shocks.

Since January of this year, conflict and insecurity have generated more than 175,000 Malian refugees and internally displaced more than 300,000 Malians. The United States recognizes the hospitality of all countries hosting Malian refugees, in particular the governments and people of Burkina Faso, Mauritania, and Niger who have continued to keep their borders open to those fleeing the situation in Mali.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Africa Named 21st Century Global Trade Partner At World Economic Forum

Robert D. Hormats
Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment

World Economic Forum
Pretoria, South Africa

May 14, 2013

Thank you Lyal for the kind introduction.

I am delighted to be in South Africa again. I visited last fall with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

What was most striking then, and continues to be the case today, is the extent to which the image of Africa has changed. According to the IMF, growth in sub-Saharan Africa will surge to 6.1% next year, well ahead of the global average of 4%.

Africa is booming in nearly every sector, ranging from massive energy developments in Mozambique, Tanzania, Ghana, and other countries; to the growth of Rwanda and Kenya’s information and communications technology sectors; to South Africa’s thriving auto industry. And, though far from declaring victory, Africa is reaching a turning point in its hard-fought battles against poverty and corruption.

Today’s Africa looks nothing like what, in 2000, The Economist referred to as the “Hopeless Continent.” It is critical that we concentrate the world’s eyes on the new image of Africa, that of progress and promise. Perspectives are evolving—in 2011, The Economist referred to Africa as the “Rising Continent” and, last March, as the “Hopeful Continent.”

Trade is at the heart of Africa’s economic resurgence. So, in this context, I will speak first about America’s vision for global trade in the 21st century and then, focus on implications and, indeed, opportunities for Africa. America’s global trade agenda in the 21st century is shaped by a foundation laid, in large part, in the mid-20th century. After World War II, American and European policymakers worked together to build a set of international institutions that embodied democratic and free market principles.

The GATT—which led to the WTO—World Bank, IMF, and the OECD were designed to foster international economic cooperation. These institutions were vital to the economic prosperity of the United States, and to the success of America’s foreign policy and national security for the next three generations.

As we move into the 21st century, a new multi-polar global economy has surfaced. The emergence of a new group of economic powerhouses—Brazil, Russia, India, and China, of course, but also countries in Africa—has created momentum (if not necessity) for greater inclusiveness in the global trading system.

At the same time, these new players must assume responsibilities for the international economic system commensurate with the increasing benefits they derive from the global economy. In addition to the geography of international trade, the nature of trade and investment has evolved to include previously unimaginable issues such as e-commerce and sustainability.

So, part of our vision for trade in the 21st century is to build a system that is more inclusive, recognizes the new realities of economic interdependence, and matches increased participation in the global trading system with increased responsibility for the global trading system.

We are making progress with bringing new players into the global trading system as equal partners. Free Trade Agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama entered into force last year.

And, we are continuing negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership—or TPP as it is more widely known. With Japan’s anticipated entry into the negotiations, TPP will grow to include 12 countries of different size, background, and levels of development. The agreement, when finalized, will encompass nearly 40% of global GDP and one-third of global trade.

In addition to TPP, we are embarking on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the European Union. TTIP—as it is being called—will strengthen economic ties between the United States and Europe, and enhance our ability to build stronger relationships with emerging economies in Asia, Africa, and other parts of the world.

TPP and TTIP are truly historic undertakings. Our objective is not only to strengthen economic ties with the Asia-Pacific and Europe, but also to pioneer approaches to trade and investment issues that have grown in importance in recent years.

These agreements will seek to break new ground by addressing a multitude of heretofore unaddressed non-tariff barriers, setting the stage for convergence on key standards and regulations, and establishing high quality norms and practices that can spread to other markets. TPP, for example, will raise standards on investment and electronic commerce, and afford protections for labor and the environment.

Our agenda also includes strengthening the multilateral trading system through the World Trade Organization. For example, the United States would like to see a multilateral Trade Facilitation Agreement, which would commit WTO Members to expedite the movement, release, and clearance of goods, and improve cooperation on customs matters. A Trade Facilitation Agreement would be a win-win for all parties—Africa especially.

Cross-border trade in Africa is hindered by what the World Bank calls “Thick Borders.” According to the latest Doing Business Report, it takes up to 35 days to clear exports and 44 days to clear imports in Africa. Clearing goods in OECD countries, in contrast, takes only 10 days on average and costs nearly half as much. Countries like Ghana and Rwanda have benefited tremendously from the introduction of trade facilitation tools and policies.

Ghana, for instance, introduced reforms in 2003 that decreased the cost and time of trading across borders by 60%, and increased customs revenue by 50%. A multilateral Trade Facilitation Agreement will create a glide path for increased trade with and within Africa.
Our views for 21st century global trade partnerships go beyond Europe and the Asia-Pacific, and efforts at the WTO. We are committed to supporting Africa’s integration into the global trading system. The cornerstone of our trade relationship with sub-Saharan Africa is the African Growth and Opportunity Act—known as AGOA. Of all of our trade preference programs, AGOA provides the most liberal trade access to the U.S. market.

Exports from Africa to the United States under the AGOA have grown to $34.9 billion in 2012. While oil and gas still represent a large portion of Africa’s exports, it is important to recognize that non-petroleum exports under AGOA have tripled to nearly $5 billion since 2001, when AGOA went into effect. And, compared to a decade ago, more than twice the number of eligible countries are exporting non-petroleum goods under AGOA.

South Africa, in particular, has made great strides in diversifying its exports to the United States. Thanks to AGOA, the United States is now South Africa’s main export market for passenger cars, representing more than 50% of exported value in 2012. Because AGOA is such an important mechanism for African countries to gain access to the U.S. market, the Administration is committed to working with Congress on an early, seamless renewal of AGOA. Our trade relationship with Africa goes beyond AGOA. For instance, AGOA represents only one-quarter of South African exports to the United States. The composition of South Africa’s exports to the United States, moreover, reflects complex interdependencies and industrial goods.

And, our trade relationship with Africa is not just about one-way trade. There is an immense opportunity for U.S. companies to do business on the continent.

We recently launched the “Doing Business in Africa Campaign” to help American businesses identify and seize upon trade and investment opportunities in Africa. The campaign was announced in Johannesburg, in part, because South Africa can play a prominent role in directing U.S. investment into other parts of the continent.

Although progress has been made on diversifying exports beyond energy, there is much more to be done. African ingenuity and entrepreneurship must be unleashed to drive innovation and growth throughout the continent. This requires closer integration to share ideas, transfer knowledge, and partner on solutions. Through AGOA and the “Doing Business in Africa Campaign”, we are promoting a business climate in Africa that enables and encourages trade and investment. However, realizing these goals is goes beyond trade preferences and commercial linkages.

Africa is also featured in America’s vision for global trade in the 21st century.

For example, we recently launched the U.S.-East African Community Trade and Investment Partnership—the first of its kind—to expand two-way trade and investment. The Partnership is designed to build confidence among the private sector by building a more open and predictable business climate in East Africa. We are considering a variety of mechanisms to accomplish this, including a regional investment treaty and trade facilitation agreement. The Partnership highlights our desire to help Africa integrate and compete in today’s global economy.

I will conclude with one final point. I began by saying that trade is at the heart of Africa’s economic resurgence. Trade is also at the heart of America’s economic recovery. We have a common interest and a common goal.

When it comes to enhanced trade, what is good for Africa is good for America. And what is good for America is good for Africa.

Thank you.

Monday, May 13, 2013

International Visitors to the U.S. Spend $14.4B According to Recent Report

Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times
May 13, 2013

U.S. Department of Commerce
Office of the Secretary

First Quarter U.S. Travel and Tourism Exports Contribute $43 Billion to the U.S. Economy

WASHINGTON — U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank highlighted new data today that shows spending by international visitors to the United States in March 2013 totaled more than $14.4 billion, an increase of nearly 3 percent when compared to last year. International visitors spent $43 billion on travel to, and tourism-related activities within, the United States during the first quarter of 2013. The data release coincides with National Travel and Tourism Week, celebrated each year to recognize the positive impact the industry has on our economy.

“International travel and tourism represents our country’s largest services export,” said Deputy Secretary Blank. “So far this year, international visitor spending in the United States has markedly outpaced U.S. spending abroad by more than $13 billion, which continues our momentum from 2012’s record-setting year. Likewise, last week’s jobs report showed continued strong job growth in the leisure and hospitality industry. Travel and tourism is an important sector of our economy, which is why we are continuing to increase our efforts to attract more international tourists to vacation in the United States.”

Purchases of travel and tourism-related goods and services by international visitors traveling in the United States totaled $11 billion during March. These goods and services include food, lodging, recreation, gifts, entertainment, local transportation in the United States, and other items incidental to foreign travel. Fares received by U.S. carriers (and U.S. vessel operators) from international visitors also increased by nearly 3 percent to $3.4 billion for the month, an increase of $70 million when compared to March 2012. Overall, the United States enjoyed a favorable balance of trade for the month of March in the travel and tourism sector, with a surplus of $4.2 billion.

Travel and tourism-related industries as a whole support nearly 8 million American jobs. President Obama’s National Travel and Tourism Strategy, which was announced a year ago, aims to attract more than 100 million international tourists per year by 2021, visitors that would spend an estimated $250 billion per year, supporting more jobs and spurring economic growth in communities across the country.

Increasing U.S. travel and tourism will not come at the expense of national security. The President’s plan for common sense immigration reform includes a number of proposals to support his commitment to increasing U.S. travel and tourism while maintaining our nation’s security. Specifically, the President’s immigration proposal reforms the Visa Waiver Program to strengthen law enforcement cooperation while facilitating more efficient trade and tourism to the United States, securely streamlines visa and foreign visitor processing, and strengthens and improves infrastructure at ports of entry. These priorities are reflected in recently introduced bipartisan immigration reform legislation, which the Senate Judiciary Committee will begin considering this week.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Nigerian Business Delegation Concludes U.S. Trade Mission in Detroit, Michigan

AMIP News Photo
Detroit, MI – May, 2013

African World Expo and the city of Farmington Hills have hosted a business forum for the visiting Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce trade delegation to mark the end of a 4-city U.S. tour which begun in April in Washington, DC.

The city of Farmington Hills and its surrounding area is the hub of over 900 business establishments representing 700 foreign-parent firms. “Farmington Hills understand the value of international business collaborations,” stated Efiong, Executive Director of the African World Expo. That’s why we are extremely excited about this business forum and we are really looking forward to providing an opportunity for the Nigerian delegation to be introduced to and be able to begin meaningful dialogue with American businesses.” The forum presented a unique opportunity for both Nigerian and Michigan companies to meet in order to facilitate business between Michigan and Nigeria.

With over 170 million inhabitants Nigeria is a strong resource base, with tremendous economic growth prospects. The Nigerian governmental emphasis on investing in developing the country’s infrastructure and industry, positions Nigeria to offer significant opportunities for exports of U.S. equipment, technology and services. Nigerian leaders have embarked on programs to dramatically expand the country’s electrical energy generation capacity, improve its roads and bridges, commercialize its impressive natural gas resources, and revitalize its manufacturing sector. “A positive orientation toward U.S. products, services, and technology, makes Nigeria a market U.S. companies need to include in their international business development plans”, stated Efiong.

The forum helped businesses learn about trade financial services offered by U.S. commercial banks and trade financing agencies. It also provided information on how to enter new markets, access working capital, find buyers, establish credit, and identify financial support, as well as information on protection against nonpayment, and strategies to improve cash flow.

The event was organized by the African World Expo in partnership with Watts Partners, Nigerian American Chamber of Commerce, Core Logistics, and the Nigerian Embassy in Washington DC.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Secretary Kerry Issues Statement on World Press Freedom Day

Photo courtesy of www.apnnews.com

Department of State
Washington, DC

May 3, 2013

Today we mark World Press Freedom Day, an annual occasion to recognize, honor, and underscore the essential role of independent media in fostering and protecting freedom of expression and democratic principles.

We take this opportunity to express our solidarity with independent media in all corners of the world, recall journalists who have lost their lives and sacrificed their freedom or personal well-being, and recognize and honor those who fight against repressive regimes that target the press.

In the United States, we hold press freedom as a fundamental component of our democratic fabric, enshrined in the First Amendment to our Constitution.

However, in many countries, those who try to exercise their freedom of expression face repression and harassment, from financially crippling lawsuits to imprisonment and death.

Journalists are increasingly confronted by the failure of governments to protect this freedom, and even as technology increases the possibilities for innovative expression online, the space for free media is shrinking.

The United States remains firmly committed to promoting and protecting press freedom, and to supporting United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) dedication to freedom of expression across the globe.

We call upon all governments to take the necessary steps to foster an environment where journalists can operate freely, independently, and without fear, and to release all imprisoned journalists wherever they are held.

Facebook Chat With Donald Yamamoto, Acting Asst. Sec. For African Affairs

Department of State
Washington, DC

April 25, 2013

QUESTION: Could you tell me please what you think about the recent conflict in Cote d’Ivoire and what are your suggestions for sustainable peace?

ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY YAMAMOTO: Ultimately in any post conflict scenario, there needs to be social justice but more important, reconciliation. We need to enhance strong democratic institutions, combat insecurities, and guarantee full and equal economic opportunities for all people in Cote d’Ivoire no matter their social or political background. Toward this end the U.S. is committed for the long term to see the people of Cote d’Ivoire succeed.

QUESTION: One of the ways to strengthened democracy in Africa is to prevent election rigging. I will like to know if you are doing anything to help ensure that elections on the continent are free and fair?

ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY YAMAMOTO: Strong institution building, holding governments accountable, calling out corruption and commitment to supporting electoral reform has been our focus in Africa and around the world. We have initiatives to bring political parties and electoral officials to the U.S. to learn how the U.S. conducts elections in a free, open, transparent manner, and this has had a positive influence on our visitors. But we will continue to advocate vigorously for transparent elections.

QUESTION: Congratulations on your appointment Assistant Secretary Yamamoto, where does the U.S. situate Africa as a foreign policy priority in the face of growing Chinese influence and the fact that through out his first term, President Obama visited Africa just once? Are there any other visits to the continent on his schedule? Why have we not seen more robust U.S. engagement in seeking solutions to what many consider a genocide in the D.R.Congo? Reaction to Boko Haram in Nigeria and military solution?

ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY YAMAMOTO: Regarding China in Africa. China surpasses the U.S. in overall trade in Africa at $150 billion and the U.S. is at $100 billion. We in the U.S. believe we need to do more to find new investment opportunities (in the sectors of energy, telecom, banking, financial services, and specialty items, such as high-end agricultural and textiles). We are engaged with China, (we are conducting our seventh annual meeting with China) to coordinate efforts and resolve differences and to ensure fair trade in Africa that benefits Africans. For instance the U.S. and China coordinate on education, healthcare, and agricultural development in Africa.

Also, did you know the U.S. helps African farmers operate high-end export of agricultural products, develop coffee and leathers for well known U.S. brands and assists African countries in increasing electrification and power grids. The U.S. also handles micro-enterprise loans for women, who form the basis of rapid economic development in local communities. Africans are buying American capital goods and creating jobs in the U.S. so we all benefit from an economic vibrant Africa.

QUESTION: There are many questions on Eritrea-Ethiopia. Do you plan on answering any of them?

ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY YAMAMOTO: Simon, thank you for joining us for today’s discussion. We’ve had several questions regarding the Eritrea and Ethiopia border dispute. The border dispute is systematic of problems, resolvable problems, between the two countries. The U.S. is committed to one day seeing the resolution of the border conflict, but also promoting strong cooperative relationships between the two countries. The economic vitality and political stability of the region depends on Ethiopia and Eritrea’s full cooperation and open dialogue with each other to work together and meet the challenges that face both countries and the region as a whole.

QUESTION: Thanks for the response, however, many of the questions below ask about the U.S. role as guarantor of the peace agreement. What does guarantor mean to you and what is the U.S. responsibility as a guarantor of that agreement? Thanks again.

QUESTION: I’m editor in chief of Elwatan Wee-end newspaper in Algeria.
Concerning the situation in north Mali, what are the consequences of the French military intervention for the stability of the Sahel region ?

ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY YAMAMOTO: The long-term solution to the crisis in Mali is strong democratic institutions, strong dialogue with the various groups in Northern Mali and Tuareg (Songhai, Arab groups, and others), advocate advancing economic opportunities, and full political participation. Towards this end the role of France and AFISMA, are only temporary solutions. The long-term solution is a Malian one and only the people of Mali can ultimately resolve conflict and create their own future.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: My name is Yao Konan Aime and I would like to ask Mr. Yamamoto: [How] does U.S.A. [plan] to create a union between Africans young [persons] and American young [persons]?

ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY YAMAMOTO: The President’s Youth and Women Entrepreneur Initiatives have brought not only the youth of Africa and America together but are offering new opportunities for Africa’s youth and women to advance their goals for development. If over 70% of Africa is under 30 and women are also at the heart of economic development, these two strategies, advocated by the U.S., will certainly lead to tremendous economic advancements in Africa.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, my first question is — with all the extreme corruption cases in Uganda and theft of all donor funds (i.e. Office of the Prime Minister scandals) and yet no one has been brought to justice with all these thefts. Why does the U.S. Government keep funding this government?

ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY YAMAMOTO: The Ugandans themselves admit corruption is a challenge. We are working with local communities and governments to address this insidious problem. Ultimately, we believe that the people of Uganda are addressing this issue and we stand ready to support and assist efforts to ensure transparency procurements, electoral process, and equal access to political and economic opportunities for all people in Uganda. The U.S. has implemented very strict oversight on contracting, procurement, and aid distribution. As in other countries, we will prosecute illegal activities which detract from the effective use of our assistance. We also have sanctioned people guilty of corruption and will continue to look at individuals, families, and institutions to improve transparency.

QUESTION: What kind of sustainable strategies the U.S. Department of State is implementing to fight corruption in sub-Saharan Africa, especially when health and development projects are being turned away from underserved population?

ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY YAMAMOTO: We work closely with local communities and government institutions to combat corruption to give people a chance to advocate and advance their health and education goals in an environment of openness and transparency.

QUESTION: In which way is the U.S. Department of State helping government institutions to get stronger? As President Obama said, “Africa needs strong institutions, not strong men.”

QUESTION: Welcome, Mr. Donald Yamamoto. My question goes like this— What impact was been made by the U.S. to tackle the present insecurity state of Nigeria?

President Barrak Obama pledged to pay a visit to Nigeria for the first time, but it hasn’t be fulfilled. The U.S. should do something fast to support President Goodluck Jonathan to enable our partnership between Nigeria and America strong as before. Thanks.

ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY YAMAMOTO: One way to ensure security is to have strong, transparent, democratic, and fair institutions. We’re promoting dialogue and addressing security concerns for all people, no matter their ethnic, religious, or clan identity in areas of conflict as well as non-conflict. By working with the government and local communities, we can advance strong dialogue and relationships that strengthens communities, which can also overcome the threat of terrorism. This was a very important issue in Secretary Kerry’s discussions today with Nigeria’s Foreign Minister. You can read the transcript of their remarks at http://www.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2013/04/207988.htm.

QUESTION: Mr. Donald, what is the U.S. foreign policy towards the conflict prevention, resolution, and management in Africa and more specifically the never-ending conflict in D.R.C.?

ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY YAMAMOTO: I worked on Congo for the past decade. Our focus is on bringing all parties together to overcome differences, insure people have an opportunity to develop and grow, and everyone benefits from the extractive industries to promote development of the communities for a better future for all people.