Saturday, August 31, 2013

Ambassador David M. Satterfield Appointed U.S. Chargé d’Affaires In Cairo

State Department Photo

Press Statement
Marie Harf
Deputy Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
August 30, 2013

Secretary of State John Kerry has designated Ambassador David M. Satterfield to serve temporarily as Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo upon today’s departure of Ambassador Anne Patterson, who has completed her tenure as U.S. Ambassador to Egypt. Ambassador Patterson has worked tirelessly for the past two years on behalf of President Obama and the American people to support U.S.-Egyptian relations and the democratic transition the Egyptian people desire. We are extremely appreciative for her outstanding service to our nation. Ambassador Patterson is returning to Washington in connection with her nomination as Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs.

Ambassador Satterfield has taken a leave of absence from his position as Director General of the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) in the Sinai Peninsula. His appointment is temporary and Ambassador Satterfield will return to the MFO later this year. Ambassador Satterfield is an experienced and respected diplomat with over 30 years of experience on the Middle East. His experience makes him the ideal diplomat to assume the important role of Chargé d’Affaires in Egypt.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

United States Commends Ghana on Resolution of Presidential Election Dispute

Picture Courtesy of Ghana Television

Press Statement
Marie Harf
Deputy Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
August 29, 2013

The United States commends Ghana’s commitment to a peaceful resolution of the 2012 presidential election dispute through a legal process, which culminated in today’s Supreme Court ruling upholding the results announced in December.

We respect Ghana’s judicial process and the transparency of the court’s proceedings, which were broadcast live and in full on television and radio.

The United States also applauds the political parties for their commitment to nonviolence throughout the legal process, and we compliment civil society organizations and other key stakeholders for their efforts to strengthen democracy and promote peace.
We remain committed to working with the people of Ghana, their government and with leaders of political parties and other civil society organizations to ensure that Ghana remains a model for democratic governance, rule of law, and stability.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

President Obama Appoints Amb.Booth As U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan/S. Sudan

President Barack Obama meets with Ambassador Donald Booth, Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, in the Oval Office, Aug. 28, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

By Grant T. Harris 
Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for African Affairs

Today, President Obama appointed Ambassador Donald Booth as the new U.S. Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan. A former U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia, Zambia, and Liberia, Ambassador Booth is one of our most experienced diplomats and has extensive experience promoting peace and prosperity across the African continent. He is seasoned, determined, and deeply committed to pursuing peace between and within Sudan and South Sudan.

Ambassador Booth joins our Sudan and South Sudan team at a critical time. Working closely with the African Union and our other international partners, he will play a vital role in urging Sudan and South Sudan to make progress on resolving outstanding issues, including the status of the disputed region of Abyei. He will continue U.S. efforts to press for a peaceful and definitive end to the conflicts in Darfur, Southern Kordofan, and Blue Nile as part of a holistic solution to Sudan’s human rights, humanitarian, and governance crises. And he will urge South Sudan to stay focused on protecting its people, meeting their needs, and realizing their aspirations for a more peaceful, prosperous, and democratic future.

As the President told Ambassador Booth today during their meeting in the Oval Office, supporting peace between and within Sudan and South Sudan remains a priority for this Administration. As Ambassador Booth carries forward this important work on behalf of the United States, he does so with the President’s full support.

Statement by the President

Today I am pleased to announce the appointment of Ambassador Donald Booth as the new U.S. Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan. Ambassador Booth is one of America’s most experienced diplomats, with broad experience helping promote peace and prevent conflict across Africa, including most recently as our Ambassador to Ethiopia. With his considerable diplomatic talents, deep knowledge of the continent, and unwavering determination, I am confident that Ambassador Booth will advance U.S. interests in pursuing a durable and lasting peace between and within Sudan and South Sudan.

As my envoy, Ambassador Booth will spearhead U.S. efforts to press the parties to implement last year’s September 27 agreements and resolve their outstanding issues, including with respect to borders, the final status of Abyei, and ensuring the uninterrupted flow of oil. He will also lead our efforts to bring the conflicts in Blue Nile, Southern Kordofan, and Darfur to a peaceful end, and to promote inclusive governance and full respect for human rights in both states.

Much work remains, but we know that when the governments of Sudan and South Sudan show political courage and put the interests of their people first, peace and progress are possible.

AU Commission Chair Dlamini-Zuma to Address 2013 Africa Braintrust

Office of Rep. Karen Bass

August 28, 2013
Washington, DC

AU Commission Chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma will address the 2013 Africa Braintrust on Friday September 20, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center | Room 207-A. (9:00-5:00pm).

The event being organized jointly by Representative Karen Bass and the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 2013 Annual Legislative Conference has the theme African Union: 50 Years of Unity and A future of Progress

Panel Sessions include the following:

Panel 1: Looking back at 50 years of African Independence (9-11AM)
Panel 2: (Keynote) Africa’s Future: Regionalism Stability & Growth (11-1PM)
Panel 3: (Lunch) Video Conference with the Continent (1:30-3 PM)
Panel 4: African Diaspora: Untapped Engine (3:30-5PM)

Other Featured and distinguished speakers include
President Ernest Bai Koroma, Sierra Leone
President Blaise Compaoré, Burkina Faso

To RSVP contact

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

African Diaspora Participates in March on Washington 50th Anniversary

National Mall
Washington, DC

Saturday August 24, 2013

Dr. Sylvester Okere, Executive Director of the Continental Africa Leadership Forum (pictured with Dr. Martin Luther King Jnr. III) joined a roster of speakers last Saturday (August 24th) at the Lincoln Memorial to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington. He spoke on behalf of the African immigrant community in the United States and stressed the importance of fixing America’s broken immigration system.

Other speakers including King III, Sharpton, Attorney General Eric Holder, Newark Mayor Cory Booker and Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga. addressed race relations in optimistic terms, describing America’s progress as encouraging but incomplete, but they also delved at times into more controversial fare like the Supreme Court’s recent decision overturning parts of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. They spoke from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, where 50 years ago this month King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Martin Luther King III paid tribute to his father’s legacy. “Five decades ago my father stood upon this hallowed spot” and “crystallized like never before the painful pilgrimage and aching aspirations of African-Americans yearning to breathe free.”

Tens of thousands of people gathered on the National Mall to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 March on Washington to listen to political and civil rights leaders reflect on the legacy of racial progress over the last half-century. They urged Americans to press forward in pursuit of King’s dream of equality.

The event was sponsored by the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, Martin Luther King III and the NAACP.


Friday, August 23, 2013

Africa Society Appoints Actor Michael Nouri As “Teach Africa” Ambassador

Photo Courtesy Wikipedia
The Africa Society of the National Summit on Africa
Washington, DC

August 22, 2012

Noah Samara, board chairman of The Africa Society of the National Summit on Africa, today announced the appointment of veteran actor, Michael Nouri, as the Ambassador for the Washington-based organization and their “Teach Africa” program. “Teach Africa” is an educational initiative for administrators, teachers and youth that addresses the response to the lack of Africa education in America’s classrooms and we’re honored to have Mr. Nouri as our new ambassador,” Mr. Samara said.

Nouri is a film, television and stage actor who has starred in a series of films including, “Flashdance”, “The Terminal”, “Finding Forrester”, “The Proposal” and others and starred in recurring roles in the highly rated television series, “NCIS”, “Damages” and “The O.C.” Nouri will soon be seen in the feature film, “The List” for director Harris Goldberg” and has just signed with producer-actress Anne Archer and writer-director Terry Jastrow for their feature film, “The Squeeze” which will start production in September. Nouri has worked extensively with young people, fostering understanding and promoting exposure to those whose countries are in conflict. He has been involved in the Palestinian-Israeli Peace Camp and has been active in using film to influence cooperation and collaboration.

“I took part in a Teach Africa program at UCLA several years ago,” Nouri said, “and it became clear how little Americans know about Africa. Can you imagine being ignorant about an entire continent with 55 countries and over a billion people? We have to know more, it is in our collective best interest. How can we expect the next generation of leaders to understand their counterparts in foreign lands if they know nothing about their countries, cultures or commonalities? We have a President whose father is from Kenya. My father came from Iraq. In the melting pot that is the United States, learning about one another is vitally important,” Nouri added.

“I’m extremely humbled and pleased to be honored with this appointment by The Africa Society,” Nouri said, “ because I believe in order to participate in the increasingly globalized world and overcome its immense challenges, today’s youth must receive exposure to and information about the varied cultures of the international community. Only then can we have a chance to coexist peacefully,” he said.

The mission of The Africa Society is to be the premier entity that engages and educates Americans about the countries comprising the continent of Africa and to create, through partnerships, a better understanding of its peoples, diverse cultures, histories and economies. Its programs, some of which have been in collaboration the Department of State, the Library of Congress, universities and media entities, such as the Travel Channel, have had a global impact – reaching over 700 million people worldwide.

To date Teach Africa has oriented 1,400 superintendants and principals, trained over 1,700 teachers, and provided Africa educational programs for over 10,000 students. It is the goal of The Africa Society to implement “Teach Africa” in every major city across the United States.


Maryland & Cross River State, S.E. Nigeria, Sign Sister-State Agreement

Photo by Jay L. Baker
Chief Photographer, Office of the Governor
Miller Senate Office Building
Annapolis, Maryland

Tuesday August 20, 2013

Story By Frederick Nnoma-Addison

Maryland and Cross River State, (South Eastern Nigeria) today signed an MOU to become Sister-States under the Maryland Sister-States Program. Governor Martin O’Malley (Maryland) and Governor Liyel Imoke (Cross River) signed the agreement on behalf of their respective states at the Miller Senate Office Building in Annapolis. About 100 leaders from the diplomatic, business, academic, religious, development, and nonprofit communities witnessed the ceremony. Before signing the documents, the two governors highlighted the importance of the common interests, aspirations and challenges of Marylanders and Cross River State citizens, to the partnership.

In a similar ceremony in June, Governor O’Malley acknowledged the contributions of the 25,000 Nigerian-Americans in the state of Maryland. The two governors congratulated each other for making this agreement possible and exchanged official gifts after the ceremony.

According to the Office of the Secretary of State, the Maryland Sister-State program oversees an array of international exchanges promoting a balance of business, educational, and cultural interests. It is chaired by the Secretary of State, steered by a devoted and spirited Advisory Board of Directors, and staffed by an army of citizen-volunteers. It was established in 1980 to provide a forum for the promotion of international cooperation and understanding


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

President Obama Issues Statement On Recent Presidential Elections In Mali

Photo courtesy of

Office of The Press Secretary
The White House
Washington DC

August 20, 2013

On behalf of the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Mali and President-elect Ibrahim Boubacar Keita on a successful election on August 11. Through the Interim Government’s management of a peaceful, inclusive, and credible electoral process, and with the extraordinary turnout of the Malian people, this election has helped restore Mali’s democratic tradition. We encourage the candidates and their supporters to accept the results, and to use this election as a foundation for further progress on democracy, national reconciliation, and addressing the security and humanitarian crises in the north. The United States stands with the people and government of Mali as they work to advance peace and stability in Mali and the region. We look forward to working closely with the new government to broaden and deepen the ties between our two nations.


United States Breaks Ground On New Embassy in Cotonou, Benin

Photo courtesy of

Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
Washington, DC

August 20, 2013

In an important symbol of our enduring friendship with Benin, U.S. Ambassador to Benin, Michael Raynor, broke ground on the new U.S. Embassy in Cotonou today.

The multi-building complex will be situated on an 8.8-acre site along the Boulevard de la Marina and will include a chancery/office building, a support annex, a residence for the U.S. Marine detachment, a warehouse, a utility building, a recreational facility, and multiple access pavilions. When completed, the new complex will provide approximately 150 embassy employees with a secure, state-of-the-art, environmentally-sustainable workplace.

The $178 million project will incorporate numerous sustainable features, including a 250-kilowatt photovoltaic array, rainwater harvesting, wastewater reuse, light-emitting diode (LED) site lighting, and water-conserving plumbing fixtures. The facility’s design targets Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Silver Certification by the U.S. Green Building Certification Institute.
Yost Grube Hall Architecture of Portland, Oregon was the concept design architect and Page Southerland Page of Arlington, Virginia was the architect of record. B.L. Harbert International of Birmingham, Alabama is the construction contractor. The new Embassy is scheduled to be completed in fall 2015.

Since 1999, as part of the Department’s Capital Security Construction Program, the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations has completed 106 new diplomatic facilities and has an additional 33 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.

For more information, please visit the OBO website, the project fact sheet, or contact Christine Foushee at

Reflections on the 2013 AGOA Forum – By Representative Karen Bass

Photo attributed to Lord Jim on Flickr Creative Commons
By Rep. Karen Bass

Monday, August 19, 2013

Courtesy of the office of Representative Karen Bass

Earlier this week, I was privileged to be a Member of the U.S. Delegation to the 2013 AGOA Forum held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. First signed into law in 2000 by President Clinton, the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA) provides duty-free access to the U.S. market for a list of products and apparel.

Over the years, AGOA has helped develop African industry, particularly in textile and apparel sectors. It also created hundreds of thousands of African jobs, pulled millions out of poverty and empowered women across the continent. As a result, one of AGOA’s greatest benefits is that it prioritizes trade as an alternative to traditional aid paradigms.

Since AGOA’s inception, sub-Saharan Africa has experienced steady growth with six of the world’s most quickly rising economies found on the continent. African markets are now poised for similar gains in the years ahead. Imagine for a moment if there was a doubling or tripling in the number of African nations that experienced near double-digit growth. It would be a decade characterized by the expansion of new markets, countless middle-class consumers with disposable incomes, and opportunities to leverage and engage
U.S. and African private sectors.

AGOA: Good for Africa and the U.S.
Forum participants noted AGOA’s benefit to America. AGOA has created jobs and opportunities here at home. Companies like Levi’s and Target have purchased products made in Africa and sold them to American consumers. And on a site visit to a textile producer in Ethiopia, I watched the production operations of a company that has successfully produced fabric purchased by J. Crew and used in New York Fashion Week. These are just a few of the examples that illustrate the win-win opportunity for both the U.S. and African nations through AGOA.

Reasons for Attending the AGOA Forum
I chose to participate in this year’s AGOA Forum for two reasons. The first was to ensure that the Forum participants, particularly African governments, understood that many Members of Congress are invested in AGOA’s future. I was pleased to sit alongside Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) on a panel where he and I reiterated AGOA’s importance and the bipartisan and bicameral support it has enjoyed since the beginning.

The second reason for participating was to listen and learn from African nations eager to see AGOA renewed. As Members of Congress, we may have particular views about what should be done to strengthen the legislation. It is important, however, that we listen to those who have much to gain from AGOA’s benefits and understand the challenges they face as they attempt to fully access those opportunities.

Take, for example, when African nations last year pleaded for early extension of AGOA’s fabric provision. Despite the efforts by a handful of congressional members, only at the eleventh hour were we able to extend this provision. Regrettably, our inability to promptly approve the resolution resulted in the loss of thousands of jobs across Africa.

Looking toward AGOA’s renewal
Once again, African nations are pressing Members of Congress and the Administration for a speedy renewal of AGOA with a 15-year extension – a period of time that would certainly provide predictability for U.S. importers and investors. There is also significant interest in a drastic increase in the rate of value added products made on the continent. Too often, goods are shipped in their raw state to distant locations where value addition takes place outside of Africa. If the trend were reversed, greater profits would be garnered and African industry would have yet another opportunity to grow and thrive.

As we look towards AGOA’s renewal, we hope to capitalize on the mutual benefits for AGOA-participating nations and for America. I am pleased that over the next year, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) will launch a comprehensive review of AGOA. This is welcome news and I look forward to working with Ambassador Froman and his team.

I am also pleased that Members in the House and Senate and their respective committees of jurisdictions have similarly signaled a desire to evaluate AGOA. It is my hope we will continue to see that support as we move forward toward renewal.

AGOA Is No Panacea
AGOA is an important component of a burgeoning trade and investment relationship between the United States and African nations. It, however, will not solve all of Africa’s challenges. Most recently, we have seen major efforts to address the critical demand for infrastructure development, power generation, regional trade, and technical assistance. During President Obama’s visit to Africa he announced Trade Africa and Power Africa, and the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee recently introduced the Electrify Africa Act 2013, which complements the President’s programs. If combined, the power initiatives would substantially increase power generation on the continent. These important announcements and accompanying legislation seek to expand and improve U.S. trade and investment environments with the continent and will further grow African markets and provide opportunities for American business.

Decisive Leadership
This year’s AGOA Forum presented some of the success achieved by African nations over a period that has demonstrated impressive economic expansion. It also reminded us that still, there is much to be done to ensure full utilization of AGOA by African nations. Over the next year, it is my hope that along with my Congressional colleagues, we will find agreement on answers to some of the most important questions posed at this year’s Forum. With decisive leadership and strong bipartisan and bicameral support, successful votes on AGOA’s renewal are possible before the 113th Congress adjourns.

Rep. Karen Bass has served in the United States Congress since 2011, representing California’s 37th District. She is the Ranking Member of House Committee on Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations.


Statement by Secretary Kerry On Republic Of Gabon’s National Day

Department of State
Washington, DC

August 16, 2013

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of the Gabonese Republic as you celebrate the 53rd anniversary of independence on August 17.

Our relationship has strengthened over the years as part of our mutual commitment towards environmental sustainability and regional stability.

As we mark this important day, the United States stands with the Republic of Gabon, and we look forward to working together towards a brighter and more prosperous future.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Statement by Secretary Kerry On Republic Of The Congo’s National Day

Department of State
Washington, DC

August 15, 2013

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I would like to extend congratulations to the people of the Republic of the Congo as you commemorate 53 years of independence on August 15.

Our two countries have come together to address a wide range of important issues, from regional stability to environmental protection. The United States is proud to work with Congolese civil society, private sector leaders, and government officials to improve human rights, strengthen economic ties, and help build a more stable, secure, democratic, and prosperous Congo.

I wish the people of the Republic of the Congo a happy Independence Day celebration. We look forward to strengthening our ties as we work towards common goals in the region and around the globe.

Introducing The New U.S. Ambassador To Ethiopia – Patricia Haslach

Department of State
Washington DC

August 14, 2013

Deputy Secretary Burns officiated the swearing-in ceremony for the U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia, Patricia Haslach, at the Department of State.

Ambassador Patricia M. Haslach previously served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Department of State’s newest bureau, the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations. Prior to that, Ambassador Haslach was the State Department’s Coordinator for Iraq Transition in the Office of the Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources. In this position, she was responsible for coordinating all Washington-based State Department aspects of the U.S. transition from military to civilian operations culminating with the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops at the end of December 2011.

Ambassador Haslach brings with her a long career dealing with development issues in countries under going transition. She served as the Deputy Coordinator for Diplomacy for the U.S. Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative (Feed the Future) from June 2010 to March 2011 and as Assistant Chief of Mission for Assistance Transition at the U.S. Embassy in Iraq from July 2009 to June 2010 where she was responsible for overseeing the transfer, transformation, and completion of development and assistance programs. As Director for the Office for Afghanistan from 2002-2004, Ambassador Haslach oversaw a multi-billion-dollar reconstruction program. From 2007 to 2009, she was Ambassador to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC), and from 2004 to 2007, she was U.S. Ambassador to the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. She has also served as Economic Counselor in Pakistan and Deputy Economic Counselor in Indonesia and in Nigeria. Ambassador Haslach began her career with the federal government at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and was assigned to India as the regional Agricultural Attaché from 1987 to 1990. She followed that assignment with a State Department posting to the U.S. Mission to the European Union managing assistance to the Group of 24 countries.

Ambassador Haslach has received numerous awards during her career, including a Superior Honor Award for Afghanistan reconstruction in 2004, The Director General’s Award for Impact and Originality in Reporting in 2002, The Herbert Salzman Award for Excellence in International Economic Performance in 2002, and the Sinclaire Language Award for distinguished study of a hard language and its associated culture in 1998.

A native of Lake Oswego, Oregon, Ambassador Haslach earned her BA from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, and her Master in International Affairs and Certificate from the Institute on Western Europe from Columbia University in New York. She has two daughters Shereen and Kiran Herbert.

Monday, August 12, 2013

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman Delivers Remarks to AGOA Forum

File Photo (USTR)
August 8, 2013
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
“The Future of U.S.-Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation”
“Good morning. Welcome ministers and ambassadors, legislators and Members of Congress, private sector and civil society leaders, ladies and gentlemen. It is my great honor to be back for the AGOA Forum. Last year in Washington, I had the opportunity to share with you President Obama’s new U.S. Strategy toward Sub-Saharan Africa.

President Obama’s Strategy for Sub-Saharan Africa
“The Presidential Policy Directive (PPD) that we announced then calls for increased trade and investment to form a key pillar of strengthened partnerships between the United States and Africa. The PPD reflects our conviction that to achieve sustainable development in Africa and around the world, we need trade, not just aid; investment, not just assistance.

“And over the past twelve months, we’ve taken concrete steps to put this strategy into practice. Last summer, I was fortunate enough to lead a delegation of senior officials from across the U.S. Government to Dar es Salaam, Nairobi, Abuja, and here in Addis. At each stop, we engaged with government, business, and community leaders to gather first-hand knowledge about trading conditions in Africa. We visited ports and power plants; we had discussions with small business owners and managers of major corporate subsidiaries. We heard about frustrations with red tape, roadblocks, and redundant border procedures. We saw how inadequate infrastructure and a lack of affordable, readily available energy resources are limiting the pace of Africa’s growth. And we came away from that trip with fresh new ideas about the kind of comprehensive, market-oriented solutions Africa needs to adopt to become the ‘emerging emerging’ markets that can join the engines of global growth in the coming years."

Our strategy goes beyond traditional aid and assistance. We’re focused on mobilizing trade and investment.
“At the Camp David G-8 Summit last summer, President Obama announced the launch of the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, which aims to achieve sustained and inclusive agricultural growth and raise 50 million people out of poverty over the next 10 years. The New Alliance has already mobilized more than $4 billion in private sector investments and more than $1 billion in NGO commitments to African agriculture in the member countries. These are not just philanthropic donations or expressions of corporate social responsibility, but hard-headed, for-profit, risk-adjusted, return-oriented investments. And the program is growing because investors see real promise in Africa. The New Alliance has expanded from three countries to nine with more, like Senegal, poised to join this year.

Trade Africa
“When President Obama returned to the continent in June, he underscored the centrality of trade and investment as the drivers of strengthened ties between us. In Tanzania, the President announced the launch of Trade Africa, a new partnership between the United States and Africa that seeks to increase internal and regional trade within Africa, and expand trade and economic ties between Africa, the United States, and other global markets. While the East African Community (EAC) will be a preliminary focus of this strategy, we will also seek to work with other regional economic communities in Africa, and ultimately to support your efforts to create a continent-wide, integrated free trade area.

Power Africa
“At the Ubongo power plant in Tanzania, President Obama announced the launch of Power Africa, a new initiative to help Africa leverage its vast resources to meet its energy needs and increase its global competitiveness. Right now, more than two-thirds of the population of sub-Saharan Africa is without reliable access to electricity and more than 85 percent of the rural population lacks access. And yet the region is also discovering vast reserves of oil and gas as well as a significant potential to develop clean geothermal, hydro, wind and solar energy. Through Power Africa, we will work with those African governments that are willing and ready to make the reforms in their energy and power sectors to attract private investment and to ensure that energy resources are responsibly developed and effectively deployed.

“And of course, these initiatives are vital complements to AGOA, which remains at the heart of our strategy for increasing U.S.-Africa trade and investment.

AGOA: Shared Successes, Lessons Learned
“Let me take a few minutes now to review where we are and where we have been with AGOA. Looking back, we can see that at a time when Africa’s rise was far less clear, AGOA predicted that Africa would have enormous economic potential, and that it would be in the United States’ national interest to help African countries use trade as an engine for Africa’s economic growth.

“Thirteen years later, reports by the African Development Bank, World Bank, and other prominent economic institutions highlight Africa’s substantial growth and rising position in the global economy. AGOA foresaw the strong economic growth that we currently see in Africa and the remarkable shift from Africa being seen mostly as a destination for development assistance to one where we can have a real conversation about achieving sustainable economic growth through private sector trade and investment.

“Without a doubt, AGOA has truly transformed the way the United States and Africa interact on trade and economic issues. Since 2001, U.S. total trade with sub-Saharan Africa (exports plus imports) have grown more than 250 percent from $28.2 billion in 2001, the first full year of AGOA trade, to $72.3 billion in 2012. AGOA imports (including GSP) to the United States have climbed to $34.9 billion in 2012, more than four times the amount in 2001. U.S. exports to sub-Saharan Africa have more than tripled under AGOA from $6.9 billion in 2001 to $22.6 billion in 2012, as Africa’s growing middle class is increasingly able to buy high-quality products Made in America, and as African businesses have sought more and more U.S. inputs, expertise, and partnerships.

“To be sure, petroleum products still account for the largest portion of AGOA imports. However, we have also seen important steps toward product diversification and value-added trade under AGOA. Last year, non-oil AGOA trade totaled $4.8 billion, more than triple the amount in 2001. Several non-oil sectors experienced sizable increases during this period, including vehicles and parts ($2.0 billion in 2012 compared to $289 million in 2001), apparel ($815 million in 2012; $359 million in 2001), and fruits and nuts ($121 million in 2012; $29.4 million in 2001).

“Behind the billions of dollars in exports generated by AGOA, are hundreds of thousands of new jobs that have helped African men and especially women to support their families in ways that once seemed impossible. Countless African workers whose jobs depend on AGOA are now able to purchase goods and services that were previously beyond their means. On the ground, in more and more countries, entrepreneurs are finding paths to prosperity – and stability for their families and communities – through exports.

“By providing new market opportunities for African exports, especially of non-traditional and value-added products, AGOA has helped African firms become more competitive both in the United States and internationally. Many African businesses that had never previously considered the U.S. market are attending trade shows and getting orders for everything from Ugandan organic cotton T-shirts to Mauritian seafood and Ghanaian cocoa powder.

“African leaders have recognized the meaningful difference that AGOA makes for households and businesses across the continent. We’ve seen positive developments at the country level. And this would not have happened without the commitment of many African leaders to improve governance, to mobilize domestic resources behind improving their health and educational systems and to engage in the type of reforms that are necessary to create an enabling environment for private sector development.

“Forward-thinking African leaders are seeking new investors, especially American investors. They like the fact that when American companies invest, they hire, train and promote local staff, they invest in the communities and they’re focused not just on taking resources out of the continent, but investing in the human resources of the continent as well. And American investors are beginning to take up the challenge. They’re investing in Africa and they’re investing in Africans – $39.5 billion in U.S. FDI in sub-Saharan Africa by the latest figures. In line with AGOA’s original vision, these rising trade and investment figures have translated into good jobs and higher incomes for both American and African workers, demonstrating that increased U.S. trade with Africa is having a tangible impact on both sides of the Atlantic.

AGOA’s Future
“This is all good news. But of course, we are not satisfied yet. ahead to AGOA’s future, we must define precisely where we are trying to go, as well as the best ways to get there. President Obama has made clear that we seek a ‘seamless’ renewal of AGOA before it expires in 2015, and we will work in partnership with stakeholders, in the U.S. and Africa, and especially with Congress, to achieve that objective.

“But renewal of AGOA is more than a matter of timing. It is also a matter of substance. Much has changed since 2000. In the global economy. In the pattern of trading relationships. In modes of production and the development of global value chains.

U.S. Trade Policy Responds to New Realities
“We’ve seen the rise of emerging economies, which led us to call at the Pittsburgh Summit for the institutionalization of the G-20 as the premier forum for international economic cooperation. We’ve seen deadlock in the Doha negotiations, which led us to forge a consensus to pursue “fresh and credible” approaches to reinvigorate the WTO, including negotiations on trade facilitation, services, and information technology trade. We’ve seen the emergence of the Asia-Pacific as one of the most dynamic regions of the world and launched the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations to raise the bar, introduce new disciplines – including in areas such as state-owned enterprises and the digital economy – to set the standards for ambitious 21st Century trade agreements.

“And looking to our broadest and deepest economic relationship, we launched the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations, with an unprecedented focus on bridging the differences between the U.S. and European regulatory and standards regimes.
Laying the Foundation for AGOA 2.0

“We are doing things differently around the world, and Africa deserves the same thoughtful, innovative thinking we have given the rest of our trading partners. We need to lay the foundation for AGOA 2.0, informed by the lessons of the past thirteen years, reflecting the changes in the global trading system, and driven by the ideas of today and tomorrow. That process begins today. And it begins here.

Review the Record
“First, we should start with what we know about AGOA and our other policy successes. Let’s inventory where exports are growing and why. Let’s understand which non-commodity exports have the greatest potential, which are or can be part of dynamic global value chains. How can AGOA foster their growth? What can be done to increase and diversify AGOA utilization?

On the Africa side, does every AGOA-eligible country have a current, active AGOA export strategy? Right now, only 10-12 percent of sub-Saharan African trade is intraregional trade. Is each country implementing commitments within its regional economic community and working to realize the Tripartite and continental free trade vision led by the African Union? How can AGOA promote regional integration and hence, spur diversification?

On the U.S. side, can we better leverage technical assistance and “aid for trade” through initiatives like the Partnership for Growth, the Millennium Challenge Corporation compacts, Power Africa and Trade Africa, restructured regional trade hubs, and through greater coordination with Africa’s other bilateral partners and multilateral institutions? How can we use these tools to increase AGOA utilization and to address the issues beyond AGOA which damage Africa’s competitiveness?

Discuss Specifics
“Second, let’s get specific. We should drill down into the thousands of duty-free tariff lines under AGOA and ask if they are appropriate for eligible exporters. We will be frank about our sensitivities, and I’ll expect the same candor from you. But in that exchange, let’s ask which AGOA countries should qualify to export certain products and why? Should there be graduation, for sectors or for countries? How should we treat African export sectors that are globally competitive, versus those just starting out?

“We know that tariffs are only the beginning of the story. Between AGOA and GSP, virtually all exports from least-developed countries in sub-Saharan Africa are eligible to enter the U.S. market duty free, but there are a range of other factors that affect the ability of African firms and farms to provide goods in the quantity and the quality and at a price that makes Africa competitive. We will want to hear your thoughts on rules of origin, science-based regulatory measures and other issues that affect exporters. We will want to talk about why the costs of getting goods to market are higher here than anywhere else in the world and what we can do, through trade facilitation, customs harmonization, infrastructure development and other measures to address that. And we should think through country eligibility criteria in the context of Africa’s development, and better understand their role in fostering democracy, improved governance and lasting economic reform.

Learn from Trading Partners
“Third, let’s look beyond the U.S.-Africa relationship and learn from other countries. What lessons can African countries take from development success stories and trade strategies in Asia and Latin America? What can we learn from your experience with new trade and investment partners, such as China and other emerging economies? What can we learn from your trade relationships with the European Union and its Member States, from the EU’s preference programs, and from your ongoing negotiations of Economic Partnership Agreements? How do we think about AGOA in the context of two-way, reciprocal trade agreements? As we think about renewing AGOA, we certainly do not want U.S. firms to be put at a competitive disadvantage in the rapidly growing and dynamic African market.

Look Forward to Future Growth Together
“Fourth, let’s look to the future. AGOA was never intended to be a permanent preference program, nor should it be. So let’s ask how AGOA can be a better stepladder to Africa’s further growth, development and global economic integration. As we learn more about global production and global value chains, where should Africa fit in the future? How can AGOA help promote greater value-added production in Africa? How can we work together to avoid bad policies and common pitfalls, like rigid localization requirements that serve as barriers to trade and hinder the development of competitive industries?

Build Bilateral Relationships and Strengthen Multilateral Priorities
“Finally, looking to the future, how do we capitalize on our bilateral relationship to strengthen multilateral priorities, such as concluding a trade facilitation agreement that will benefit developing countries even more than developed ones and that can help build momentum for further multilateral trade liberalization?

Launching a Consultative Process with Open Minds
“These are just some of the questions we should begin to discuss today, tomorrow, and in the months ahead. In Washington, USTR will lead a process to review AGOA and gain insight from all of AGOA’s stakeholders. We will reach out to you – African government leaders, U.S. and African companies, experts in civil society, NGOs and academics. Ultimately, of course, this will be an issue for the U.S. Congress to take up, and we look forward to working in partnership with them to determine the best way forward. At the end, it is very possible that we will conclude that AGOA should just be renewed as is, but we go into this process with an open mind and look forward to a robust and insightful review.

President Obama’s Continuing Commitment to Africa
“Let me conclude by underscoring the Obama Administration’s commitment to Africa. This is my third trip to the continent in just over a year. And over the course of the next year or so, you can expect to see Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, Secretary of Energy Ernie Moniz and Secretary of Treasury Jack Lew, among others, here, working to deepen our economic ties. As President Obama said in Johannesburg: You have “no better friend and partner than the United States of America.” And when the President convenes African leaders in Washington in 2014, I look forward to reporting back on our plans for AGOA renewal and, beyond that, a clear vision of the future of U.S.-African economic relations.

“This Forum and the launch of the AGOA review today are key steps in that process. Thank you for your engagement. Thank you for your commitment. Thank you for your partnership.”

# # #

Lead Nigeria to Host 4th Annual Leadership Summit in New York

From August 16-17, 2013, LEAD Nigeria will host the 4th Annual Nigerian Leadership Summit at the Hotel Pennsylvania, downtown New York. Guided by the theme: “Developing a Roadmap for Engaging the Nigerian Diaspora in Development”, the summit will provide an opportunity for Nigerians in the Diaspora especially the youth to extensively discuss and equip themselves with strategic information, knowledge and resources necessary to make viable contribution to Nigerian development by acquiring the skills and tools needed for engaging their fellow peers in good governance and societal development.

Specifically, this year’s summit will focus on how the Nigerian Diaspora-based and Nigerian-based youth can work together to generate and share new ideas, learn about best practices of creating empowerment programs and project management, create opportunities to collaborate and forge partnerships that will enhance the prospects of developmental change within the Nigerian youth population, while shaping a broad development vision as the center piece and framework of cooperation between youths and the government.

As part of the leadership summit, from August 12-15, 2013 – Lead Nigeria in partnership with The Council of Young African Leaders will host 40 Nigerian youth leaders and activists from Nigeria for a 3 day Leadership Empowerment training retreat focused on building their leadership, organizational and community service skills with the goal of designing and organizing a project of choice to be carried out in Nigeria, a project that will impact the lives of members of the community within a year.

A special feature of the Nigerian Leadership summit 2013 will be the launch of the LEAD Nigeria fellowship program. The LEAD Nigeria fellowship program will provide selected Diaspora Nigerians annually with the opportunity to participate, intern, volunteer or work on a program of choice in Nigeria for 3 months in areas such as youth empowerment, leadership development, entrepreneurship, media, healthcare, education and vocational skills training, providing an in-depth understanding of issues threatening the survival and development of youths and young people with an intensive mentoring and training module to develop relationships with on-going projects and highly committed and accomplished youth leaders working collaboratively to motivate and inspire their fellow peers in particular and their community in general.

The Nigerian Leadership Summit is expected to attract about 200 participants from across the United States, Canada, the UK and Nigeria, with emphasis on providing opportunities for current youth leaders and professionals leading developmental change campaigns and initiative to actively be involved and engaged in the programs dialogue.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Statement by Secretary Kerry On Chad’s National Day

Department of State
Washington, DC

August 11, 2013

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Chad as you commemorate 53 years of independence this August 11.

The United States and Chad share a common commitment to peace, prosperity and stability for the people of Chad and throughout the region. In the coming year, we look forward to deepening our partnership on issues of mutual concern, from counterterrorism to promoting human rights to combating the surge in wildlife trafficking, which stands as a grim reminder of our capacity to inflict harm on the natural world.

As you gather with family and friends, I wish the people of Chad a joyous and festive national day celebration.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program Participants Gather At 2013 AGOA Forum

Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
Washington, DC

August 9, 2013

The African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP) is a U.S. Department of State initiative that was launched in 2010 alongside the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) ministerial forum in Zambia. AWEP builds networks among women entrepreneurs across sub-Saharan Africa poised to transform their societies by owning and operating small and medium businesses and by becoming voices for social progress in their communities.

August 10-11, AWEP’s Ethiopia Chapter will host a forum prior to the 2013 AGOA Forum’s ministerial program held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. One hundred AWEP women entrepreneurs from across the continent will participate in the forum, themed “Queen of Sheba: The Entrepreneur.” U.S. Congressional delegates, private sector practitioners and senior U.S. and African officials will also participate.
This year’s forum will focus on best practices for trading under AGOA, access to finance for women, business development, regional initiatives empowering women entrepreneurs, and use of social media to build a successful business.

The First Lady of Ethiopia H.E. Roman Tesfaye, U.S. member of Congress Karen Bass, and African Union Commissioner for Trade and Industry Fatima Acyl will open this year’s AWEP Forum, and U.S. Department of State Deputy Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Cynthia Akuetteh and AWEP-Ethiopia President Samrawit Moges will close the forum.

On the evening of August 11, AWEP will participate with the Corporate Council on Africa’s U.S.-Africa Business Center and the Intel Corporation to host a Business-to-Business (B2B) Networking Event. This event provides an opportunity for AWEP entrepreneurs to network with U.S. companies and investors from various sectors such as manufacturing, services, technology, and fashion and textiles to build upon the connections the women made during their AWEP exchange to the United States. More than 100 AWEP women entrepreneurs, 30 U.S. companies, and U.S. Congressional delegates have been invited to attend.

For more information on AWEP, please visit: or email .

12th Annual AGOA Forum Convenes In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Photo courtesy of

Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
Washington, DC

August 9, 2013

The 12th annual African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum will be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with the theme “Sustainable Transformation through Trade and Technology,” bringing together senior U.S. administration officials, African government ministers as well as U.S. and African business and civil society stakeholders. The private sector, civil society, and African Women Entrepreneurs Program (AWEP) participants will launch the event from August 9-11 concurrent with a trade fair organized by the Corporate Council on Africa followed by the Ministerial Forum August 12-13.

AGOA enables the 39 eligible sub-Saharan African countries to export most products duty-free to the United States. The total African exports under AGOA have more than quadrupled since the program’s inception. In 2012, AGOA-eligible countries exported nearly $35 billion in products to the United States duty free under AGOA and its related Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) provisions. AGOA provides incentives for African countries to improve their investment climates, reduce corruption, respect human and labor rights and the rule of law, improve infrastructure and harmonize trade standards to help them become more competitive in the global marketplace.

The 2013 AGOA Forum will highlight the progress achieved since the Act’s inception in 2000 and launch a dialogue on the future of United States-sub-Saharan Africa trade and economic cooperation. These discussions will pave the way for the Obama Administration to work with Congress and other stakeholders on AGOA’s extension after September 30, 2015, when the current Act is due to expire.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

U.S. State Department Sends Sports Envoys To Empower Youth In Angola

Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
Washington, DC

August 5, 2013

The U.S. Department of State announced today an upcoming sports envoy program to empower youth in Luanda, Angola. In partnership with the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) and the National Basketball Association (NBA), Ticha Penicheiro and Cedric Ceballos, will travel to Luanda to engage with underserved youth both on the court and in the community. This program builds on the U.S. global commitment to empower young people to serve as economic and civic actors in their communities.

From August 5-8, 2013, Penicheiro and Ceballos will meet with 200 Lusiada University students to encourage community involvement on the basketball court and in the classroom, and conduct basketball clinics for over 200 underserved boys and girls from Luanda, Cazenga, and Sambizanga. The two athletes will also participate in a literacy event at the Lar Kuzola orphanage.

A four-time WNBA All-Star, Penicheiro is the WNBA all-time assists leader and was a member of the 2005 WNBA Champion Sacramento Monarchs. Ceballos played 11 seasons in the NBA, which included one NBA All-Star selection (1995) and the 1992 NBA Slam Dunk Champion title.

To learn more about the U.S. Department of State’s sports diplomacy programs, please visit:

For more information, please contact of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at

Under Sec. Sherman To Lead U.S. Delegation To U.S.-Nigeria Binational Commission Meeting

Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
Washington, DC

August 7, 2013

The Government of the United States announces that Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman will lead the U.S. delegation in the Regional Security Cooperation Working Group meeting of the United States-Nigeria Binational Commission (BNC) to be held in Abuja, Nigeria, on August 15.

Participation in the Commission meeting reflects the commitment of the United States to our critical bilateral relationship with Nigeria. The United States supports the aspirations of the Nigerian people for a peaceful, prosperous, stable, and democratic future.

BNC meetings provide a venue for sharing ideas, perceptions, and best practices on matters of mutual concern, which are addressed in working groups, with this meeting focusing on regional stability and civilian security. The August 15 meeting will further define challenges of mutual concern to both nations, and outline joint responses for future partnership.

The U.S. Government expresses in advance its gratitude to the Government of Nigeria for its friendship, cooperation, and hospitality on this occasion, and looks forward to productive talks.

Statement by Secretary Kerry On Cote d’Ivoire’s National Day

Department of State
Washington, DC

August 6, 2013

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Côte d’Ivoire as you celebrate your independence on August 7.

The United States and Côte d’Ivoire share a strong partnership built on shared values of democracy, peace, and economic prosperity for all Côte d’Ivoire’s people.

We look forward to continuing our work with the Government of Côte d’Ivoire to support the process of reconciliation and promote good governance, economic development, and regional stability.

As you join with family and friends on this special day, the United States wishes the Government and people of Côte d’Ivoire a festive celebration.

President Obama’s Statement On The 15th Anniversary Of The Embassy Bombings In Kenya And Tanzania

Office of The Press Secretary
The White House
Washington, DC

August 7,2013

Today marks the 15th anniversary of al-Qaeda’s terrorist attacks against the U.S. Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, which killed innocent Americans and Africans. On this day, we honor the families of the twelve Americans who lost their lives, and we join with the people and governments of Kenya and Tanzania honoring the sacrifices of the African victims of this heinous act, which killed over 200 and wounded over 5,000.

Last month, I was honored to pay tribute to those who lost their lives, and to meet with some of the survivors, at a memorial to the fallen in Dar es Salaam. The United States is steadfast in our commitment to protect the American men and women who dutifully serve our nation overseas, and we will remain resolute in working with our partners to combat violent extremism in East Africa, across the region, and around the world. We continue to stand with our East African partners to bring terrorists to justice and will carry on our efforts to prevent these attacks in the future. On this day of remembrance, we extend our deepest thoughts and prayers to the families of those killed and wounded in the 1998 attack, and we join with our friends and partners in East Africa and around the globe in honoring their memory by building a safer, more secure, and more prosperous world.


Introducing The New U.S. Ambassador To Burkina Faso – Tulinabo Mushingi

Department of State
Washington DC

August 5, 2013

Secretary Kerry hosted a swearing-in ceremony for the U.S. Ambassador to Burkina Faso Tulinabo Mushingi, at the Department of State.

Tulinabo Mushingia is the first Zairian (now DRC) born citizen to become a US ambassador. He is a career diplomat with extensive experience in Africa and succeeds career diplomat Thomas Dougherty, who had served since August 2010.

About Tulinabo Mushingia
Born circa 1957, Tulinabo Mushingi earned a B.A. and an M.A. from the Institut Superieur Pedagogique in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo, an M.A. at Howard University, and a Ph.D. in Linguistics at Georgetown University in 1989, with a dissertation entitled, “Vehicular languages as media of instruction: The case of Swahili in Zaire.”

A career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, Mushingi began his career as a language and cultural trainer for the Peace Corps before joining the Foreign Service. Early career assignments included service as a general services officer at the U.S. Embassy in Maputo, Mozambique, from 1994 to 1996; as a counseling and assignment officer in the State Department Bureau of Human Resources from 1999 to 2001; and as management officer at the Consulate General in Casablanca, Morocco, from 2001 to 2003.

Back in Washington, Mushingi served as supervisory general services officer in the Executive Office of the Secretary of State from 2003 to 2006. He then served two straight stints in Africa. From 2006 to 2009, he was counselor for management affairs at the embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and chargé d’affaires ad interim, and from 2009 to 2011, he was chargé d’affaires and deputy chief of mission at the embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Since 2011, Mushingi has served as deputy executive secretary and executive director of the Executive Office of the Secretary of State.
Mushingi, who bears an unusual resemblance to President Obama, is married to Rebecca (née Marshbanks) Mushingi.

Statement by Secretary Kerry On Zimabawe’s Presidential Election

Department of State
Washington, DC

August 3, 2013

Zimbabweans voted in their country’s first national elections this week since the violent and disputed polls in 2008. These elections were an opportunity for Zimbabwe to move forward on a democratic path and provide a foundation for growth and prosperity.

The people of Zimbabwe should be commended for rejecting violence and showing their commitment to the democratic process. But make no mistake: in light of substantial electoral irregularities reported by domestic and regional observers, the United States does not believe that the results announced today represent a credible expression of the will of the Zimbabwean people.

Though the United States was restricted from monitoring these elections, the balance of evidence indicates that today’s announcement was the culmination of a deeply flawed process. There were irregularities in the provision and composition of the voters roll. The parties had unequal access to state media. The security sector did not safeguard the electoral process on an even-handed basis. And the government failed to implement the political reforms mandated by Zimbabwe’s new constitution, the Global Political Agreement, and the region.

We urge the Southern African Development Community and the African Union to address their concerns with the electoral process, as well as those raised by domestic monitoring groups. The Government of Zimbabwe needs to chart a way forward that will give the people of Zimbabwe the opportunity to express their most fundamental democratic right in a free and fair environment. We further call on all parties to refrain from violence during this period.

The United States shares the same fundamental interests as the Zimbabwean people: a peaceful, democratic, prosperous Zimbabwe that reflects the will of its people and provides opportunities for them to flourish. For that to happen, the Government of Zimbabwe should heed the voices of its citizens and implement the democratic reforms mandated by the country’s new constitution.

Only then will Zimbabwe truly embark on a path towards democracy that reflects the aspirations of its people.

Statement by Secretary Kerry On Niger’s National Day

Department of State
Washington, DC

August 2, 2013

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Niger as you celebrate the 53rd anniversary of your independence this August 3.

The United States applauds the government and people of Niger for your commitment to strengthening democratic institutions, promoting human rights, and advancing regional security. Your steadfast embrace of tolerance and rejection of violence following the tragic terrorist attacks in Agadez and Arlit has set an example for the world.

The United States looks forward to continued partnership as our countries work to achieve common goals and a healthy, prosperous and secure future for the people of Niger.

The United States wishes all the people of Niger a joyous and peaceful independence day celebration.

President Bill Clinton on Africa’s Progress

Article and Photo
Courtesy Clinton Foundation

July 31, 2013

In 1998, I first traveled to Africa as President, visiting Ghana, Uganda, Senegal, Rwanda, Botswana, and South Africa. At the time, sub-Saharan African economies were regressing – that year, GDP per capita growth was -.2 percent – and 21 million adults and children were living with HIV/AIDS. But that’s not what I remember most about my trip. Over the course of those nine days, I met people who were working to turn the tide on AIDS, women who were starting businesses with micro-credit loans to support their families, and citizens who were making a new democracy work to benefit everyone.

As President, I wanted to help turn that hope and ambition into tangible results. I knew that so many communities in Africa had the potential, but not the resources and opportunities they needed to prosper. In 2000, I signed the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) into law, with the hope that it would begin a new era of relations between the U.S. and Africa by enabling deeper trade and investment ties. Since then, exports under AGOA have increased more than 500 percent, reaching $53.8 billion in 2011.

After I left office, I wanted to continue supporting Africa’s progress through the work of my Foundation. Today, Africa is rich in resources and is the world’s fastest growing continent, with clear economic and health care advancement. Over the past decade alone, real income per capita has increased by 30 percent, and the number of Africans who acquired HIV infections in 2011 was 25 percent lower than in 2001. Witnessing Africa’s progress first-hand has been truly remarkable, but what’s even more incredible is seeing our work in action and meeting people whose lives we’ve changed.

This week, Chelsea and I and our delegation will visit Clinton Foundation projects in Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania, Rwanda, and South Africa, marking my ninth trip to the continent since leaving office. We will see how people have more opportunity to change the course of their future, visit projects where we are working together with our friends and partners on the ground to increase opportunity and growth, and we’ll see some that showcase our CGI members’ efforts to help Africa reach its full potential.

We’ll see the strides we’ve made in providing access to health care and HIV/AIDS, the first challenge the Foundation tackled, thanks to the inspiration of my friend Nelson Mandela. In 2011, for the first time, 45 percent of people in low- and middle-income sub-Saharan countries who needed antiretroviral therapy were receiving it. In Rwanda alone, the number of individuals receiving antiretroviral therapy has increased from 17,781 in 2005 to 96,123 in 2011. During my trip to Rwanda in 2008, I met a teenage boy, Jean-Pierre Ntakirumtimana, who is living with HIV. Today, Jean-Pierre is alive and doing well thanks to the antiretroviral treatment made possible through the Foundation’s drug pricing agreements. Jean-Pierre is just one of the 5 million people around the world who has access to treatment through the Foundation—that’s more than half the people currently receiving treatment worldwide. Our market-based approach allows us to partner with governments, NGOs, and businesses. It has proved that, often-times, doing good makes economic sense.

Another major challenge Africa faces is that two-thirds of its population is reliant on agriculture for income, yet these farmers lack access to drought-resistant seed, good fertilizer, affordable access to markets, storage, and training that could help them grow more food, earn more money to support their families, and feed their communities. Providing farmers with the tools and resources to do these things can transform an entire community. For example, in Malawi, our Anchor Farm Project operates large commercial farms that work with thousands of local, smallholder farmers, such as Evans Chaziya. Evans has improved his crop yields by as much as 150 percent each year, and as a result of productivity and market access improvements, his profitability was 567 percent higher in 2012 than in 2007 – the year before the project began. With Evans’ extra income, he is able to send his children to school and pay for their school fees. And Evans is just one of 21,000 smallholder farmers who are earning more, taking better care of their families, homes, and uplifting their communities.

On this year’s trip to Africa, I hope to meet many more people like Jean-Pierre and Evans. To create more success stories like theirs, I hope you will be part of our work in Africa – not just during the next 10 days, but also during the next 10 years – and to empower good people to build better tomorrows.

Statement by Secretary Kerry On Benin’s National Day

Department of State
Washington, DC

July 31, 2013

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Benin as you celebrate the 53rd anniversary of your nation’s independence on August 1.

The United States and Benin share a friendship based on common interests and values. Since the 1990s, Benin has held multiple free and fair elections, cementing its role as a democratic leader in West Africa. We look forward to deepening our partnership to promote good governance and economic development, regional stability, and the empowerment of vulnerable populations.

On this special day, the United States wishes the Government and people of Benin a festive celebration and a peaceful, prosperous future.

Hon. Linda Thomas-Greenfield Confirmed As Next US Asst. Sec. for African Affairs

Picture: US Dept. of State
Africa Update from the Office of Rep. Karen Bass

In May, President Obama nominated Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield to be the next Assistant Secretary for African Affairs. Thomas-Greenfield, a career Foreign Service Officer, previously served as Director General of the Foreign Service and Director of Human Resources and has a storied career working to promote U.S. interests on the African continent. From 2008 to 2012, she served as the U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Liberia, as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of African Affairs from 2006 to 2008, and as a Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration from 2004 to 2006.

Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield understands the importance of strengthening the U.S.-Africa relationship and is well-versed in the challenges and opportunities that the continent offers to our nation’s strategic interest. At her Senate nomination hearing, she noted the economic progress of many nations in Africa. “We are beginning to see visible evidence of parallel gains in economic growth and economic development on the continent. Africa is booming in nearly every sector… At the same time, we will need to continue efforts to encourage American businesses to actively participate in Africa’s economic renaissance.” The Ambassador also expressed her commitment to reducing trade barriers between the United States and Africa and to promote the continent as a place where U.S. companies can make profits. “Our businesses understand the importance of respecting international norms, and I will strive to ensure that U.S. companies operating in Africa are treated fairly and are given every opportunity to compete in the marketplace.”

Preview Of The 2013 African Growth And Opporunity Act (AGOA) Forum

Florizelle (Florie) Liser, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Africa in the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR); Cynthia Akuetteh, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs; and John M. Andersen, Acting Assistant Secretary for Market Access and Compliance, U.S. Department of Commerce
Washington, DC
July 31, 2013

9:00 A.M EDT


MODERATOR: Hello, everyone, and welcome to the Washington Foreign Press Center and to our callers joining us via teleconference from State’s African Media Hub. I would note first that if you want to get into the question queue, what you need to do to ask a question, please press *1 at any time.

Our speakers today are Florizelle Liser, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Africa in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative; Cynthia Akuetteh, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs; and John Andersen, Acting Assistant Secretary for Market Access and Compliance with the U.S. Department of Commerce. Today, they’re going to deliver a briefing on a preview of the 2013 Africa Growth and Opportunity Act or AGOA Forum.

Without further ado, here is Ms. Liser.

MS. LISER: Good morning, everyone. I am delighted to be here along with my colleagues from the State Department and Commerce Department, and on behalf of the U.S. Government, many, many agencies are involved and will be at the AGOA Forum in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. We will be joining our African counterparts from government, many people from the private sector and civil society from both the United States and Africa at what is now the 12th annual AGOA Forum.

And this year’s AGOA Forum comes a little more than a month after President Obama’s visit to Sub-Saharan Africa, and he very much featured the issues of trade and investment during that trip. So it’s a perfect time for us to be having the AGOA Forum, to follow up on a number of the things that were announced during the President’s trip, and to continue to try to find ways to enhance the U.S.-Sub-Saharan Africa economic relationship.

The U.S. Trade Representative Mike Froman – Michael Froman and other senior Administration officials will be at the AGOA Forum, and this will actually be Ambassador Froman’s first foreign trip in his capacity as the U.S. Trade Representative. We will have, as I said, people from government, civil society, private sector, and I forgot to mention – and they’re dear to my heart, so I should not have forgotten to mention the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program, AWEP. And we’ll be there from August 9th to the 13th.

Today, there are, of the 49 countries that are Sub-Saharan African, there are 39 of them that are eligible for AGOA. And we are now at a point where AGOA is scheduled to expire in 2015, and one of the things that we will be doing, Ambassador Froman will be launching an extensive public review process to assess AGOA’s successes as well as the areas for improvement as we seek to extend AGOA beyond 2015. The Administration has already committed to have a seamless renewal of AGOA, but we want to make sure that we know all that AGOA has done, we want to know what the current challenges are to its further utilization, and this public review process will help us to do that. And of course, all of this will be towards the end of working with the U.S. Congress because AGOA is their baby as well as ours.

We celebrate AGOA’s success to date in expanding and diversifying two-way U.S.-African trade. We can talk more about the details of this, but today, African exports to the United States are three times what it was in the first year of AGOA. And there is a significant increase in non-oil exports to the U.S., and we can talk more about some of the sectors that’s happening in.

But we also recognize that AGOA can do so much more. So we have to look at how we can make it better, how we can fulfill its promise and potential, and we need to get that right. As AGOA is extended, we want to make sure that the Africans are in a position to compete in the global economy.

So let me wrap up by saying that we know that market access is not the only thing that the Africans need, that AGOA alone will not make all the difference for the Africans. Many of our goal partners have put into place far-reaching economic and political reforms, they’ve improved the business and the investment climate, established rule of law and improved governance, they’ve addressed barriers such as corruption, a lack of capacity to produce value-added manufactured products for the global economy, and they’re also pouring money into infrastructure that’s needed to help them be competitive. The U.S. is supporting the Africans in a lot of these areas, and I’m sure my colleagues will speak a bit about that. We’re also supporting African regional economic integration which will facilitate not only intra-African trade and create larger markets that can improve Africa’s competitiveness, but can also attract much-needed investment into the region.

Finally, while AGOA is focused on granting African producers access to the U.S. market, we’re also committed to ensuring that U.S. companies face a level playing field while doing business in Africa. We recognize that Africa is a continent of vast opportunities and we want to make sure our traders and investors here in the U.S. have an opportunity to work with Africans and take advantage of this continent that is definitely on the rise. Thank you.

MODERATOR: Well, without further ado, we’ll move to the Q&A portion of the event. Again, I was – oh, I apologize. We’ll have our second speaker now.

MS. AKUETTEH: Okay. Thank you so much and thank you, Florie, for your comments, for your remarks. I’m also very delighted to be here – this is Cynthia Akuetteh from the State Department – to be here with my colleagues from USTR and Commerce. We work very closely with USTR, Commerce, and Treasury in implementing the AGOA. And as highlighted by President Obama during his recent trip to Africa, we are very committed to strengthening our trade and investment partnership with Sub-Saharan Africa. We view Africa as one of the most important emerging regions in the world, and we see tremendous opportunity to significantly increase our economic engagement.

I love to tell the story that when I was in graduate school, that the African students at the time would say, “We want trade, not aid.” So here it is, 2013, and we’re really looking to expand and deepening those trade ties. AGOA is the foundation of our economic partnership. We are committed to working with Congress and other stakeholders on the legislation’s timely renewal. The AGOA Forum is an opportunity to launch a high-level dialogue on AGOA’s successes and challenges and to continue consultations on possible ways to improve AGOA to generate increased trade, sustain equitable growth and job creation.

This year’s forum, which is the twelfth, will be held August the 12th and 13th in Addis, as Florie Liser said. Our theme is Sustainable Transformation Through Trade and Technology. This theme, I want to underscore, was proposed by our African partners. We believe that it reflects the transformation that the continent has seen in the decade since AGOA was passed. This year’s forum will consist of the ministerial, which will be held from August 12th to 13th; private sector, civil society, and AWEP forums, which will be held August 10th through the 11th; and the trade fair organized by the Corporate Council on Africa from August 9th through the 12th. All the events will take place at the African Union Conference Center in Addis.

We have been very pleased with the cooperation with our Ethiopian colleagues and their outreach to their African counterparts. At the suggestion of our African colleagues, this year’s plenary sessions will comprise three parts: U.S. perspective on past cooperation and the Administration’s thoughts on the future of our economic relationship; the Africans’ perspective on future economic relations; and congressional perspective. The forum also presents an opportunity to launch a high-level dialogue on AGOA’s successes and challenges and on the program’s future.

We are committed to working with Congress and other stakeholders on AGOA’s extension beyond September 2015, and on ways to potentially enhance the program. AGOA’s renewal is important not only to sustain our support for Africa’s integration into the global economy, but also to really signify and maintain our partnership with a region that is vitally important to the United States strategic and commercial interests. Thank you.

MODERATOR: We’ll now take remarks from our third speaker, Mr. John Andersen.

MR. ANDERSEN: Thank you, and good morning. I represent the U.S. Department of Commerce, and it’s my pleasure and honor to be here today to speak with you and also to be with two of my good friends from the Department of State and from the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office.
This will be the second overseas AGOA forum that I’ll have the privilege of attending. I went to the 10th in Zambia, which was my first, spent much of my career working on U.S.-Western Hemisphere affairs, so it was a bit of an eye-opener to have had an opportunity to be in Zambia. And people told me then that, in some ways, it was the watershed event. It was the first time a number of heads of state from Africa came and talked less about what can AGOA do for us and more about what can we do to take better advantage of AGOA. And I think that’s a critical factor in the success of the relationship moving forward.

It’s no secret that the President has viewed – views Africa as one of the key emerging areas in the world. Seven of the 10 fastest-growing countries in the world are in Sub-Saharan Africa, and some of the highest growth rates projected for this year or next are also in the region.

I’m going to talk briefly about a few of the programs that we’ll be highlighting when we are in Ethiopia. The first is the Doing Business in Africa Campaign. It was designed to further encourage economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa and to assist American businesses to take advantage of the tremendous opportunities the region has to offer. And the program was launched in November 2012 by then-acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank. It reflects an unprecedented, whole-of-government approach to increase the level of U.S. trade promotion to the region, to address market barriers, and to expand the availability of trade financing.

It’s a program that’s spearheaded by the Department of Commerce, entails broad collaboration across the government with the Department of State, with the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office, with the Export-Import Bank, with the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, the Overseas Private Investment Company – Corporation, and so on. It advances President Obama’s strategy toward Sub-Saharan Africa, which calls for the United States to spur economic growth, trade, and investment in the region. And we will do this by encouraging greater U.S. economic engagement, to include providing assistance to U.S. businesses – especially small-and-medium-sized businesses – and the African diaspora owned businesses to take advantage of the many export and investment opportunities in African markets.

One way you will see this action taking place is through expanded trade promotion programs tailored toward Africa to include trade missions and international buyer program events that will bring more Africa buyer delegations to the United States. So there will be a number of programs that we will put on that will highlight the Doing Business in Africa Campaign.

The second event will be the commercial dialogue that was instituted by, again, Dr. Blank when she was in Africa in November. It’s – it involves the United States in the East African Community. It’s a commercial dialogue that brings together, in particular, the private sectors of both regions to talk about what we can do to help each other to expand the region and to take advantage of opportunities, to make sure that we can help create jobs and employment and opportunities for trade in both our regions.

I think it’s significant to point out that while the Commerce Department has – only has a few commercial dialogues, and they are – generally have been with fairly high-level countries, and Brazil being one, India being another, so the fact that we felt the region was this significant that we started one that is region-wide and the first one in Sub-Saharan Africa I think is a pretty major step in the right direction.

And then the last thing – and Cynthia mentioned – both Cynthia and Florie mentioned this – that there will be a private sector forum jointly organized by the Corporate Council on Africa and the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectorial Associations. During this session, CCA will partner with the United States, African private sectors, governments, and other stakeholders to provide a platform for companies to identify opportunities, execute deals, and network with African decision makers across many sectors. It will be dedicated to identifying opportunities for the United States and African private sectors to take full advantage of AGOA’s benefits and collectively pursue approaches that could increase the flow of trade and investment into Africa.

So as I said at the beginning, this is the second AGOA forum that I will have the privilege of participating in. I look forward to doing so, spending some time on the continent, spending some time with my good friends and colleagues, and working to ensure that we have – Africa has the promising future that it looks like it’s poised to have. Thank you.

OPERATOR: Thank you very much. We’re now on --

MODERATOR: Go ahead, (inaudible).

OPERATOR: Sorry, sorry. Thank you very much. We’re now in the question-and-answer session. And just a reminder, callers, to please press * 1 on your phone to join the question queue. Please push * 1 on your phone if you want to ask a question.
The first question – actually, I’m going to take a maximum of three questions from our U.S. mission in Ethiopia, Addis Ababa. Please state your name and affiliation before you ask your question. Ethiopia office, your line is open. Maximum of three questions, please. Please go ahead.

MODERATOR: Thank you very much. Let me turn the floor over to one of our reporters right away. Please speak up.

QUESTION: Okay. My name is (inaudible) and I’m from (inaudible). (Inaudible) all of us (inaudible) to be here (inaudible). My first question is: Compared to Africa and your trade (inaudible) how successful is AGOA? And another question of money: We know that (inaudible) in makings of AGOA. Compared to (inaudible), is Egypt then trying to take advantage of this opportunity in AGOA? Thank you.

MODERATOR: Do you want all of our questions right away?

MS. LISER: Yeah. I just – before we move on, could you please clarify the first part of the question? Compared to who?

QUESTION: The Africa trade partnership with China and Asian countries in general.

MS. LISER: Okay. Thank you.

MODERATOR: Okay. Would you like the other questions now?

MS. LISER: Yes, please.

MODERATOR: Okay. Please (inaudible).

QUESTION: Hello. I am (inaudible) from VOA. I want to – what do you expect gain (inaudible) trade (inaudible)?

MODERATOR: And one more.

QUESTION: My name is (inaudible) from (inaudible). And my question is: (Inaudible) within AGOA (inaudible) countries (inaudible) to produce. Why do you have this product? So what would be the U.S. support to enhance their position in terms of producing (inaudible) product? And the other question is: What is the (inaudible) is doing to extend AGOA from 2015?

MS. LISER: Okay. So on the first question that was related to African trade practices with China and other Asian countries versus the United States, our view has been that Africa is a large and fast-growing market. It has, as one of my colleagues was saying, seven of the ten fastest growing economies in the world. It also has a rapidly growing middle class, and there’s a youth bulge and the products and services that that group wants and desires, all of this is having an impact on the way that lots of countries around the world are interacting with Africa.

So it’s not just China. In fact, last year, the largest investor in Africa was not China; it was actually Malaysia. A lot of people don’t know that. And on the other hand, while Africa-China trade has now exceeded U.S.-China trade, the United States still is the largest market for Africa’s value-added products. So there are also some differences in the patterns of trade. So, for example, Africa has been rapidly increasing its exports of footwear and apparel to the United States. You will not see that same pattern in their trade with China or other countries.

So we have to look not just at the total or overall numbers for the trade, we have to look at the patterns of the trade, and then we have to look at what’s happening in particular sectors of trade as well. We in the U.S. are encouraging the Africans to do everything they can to liberalize their markets, to advance regional integration so that instead of having 49 small markets, many of which are landlocked, that they continue to move forward in their regional economic integration so that they can have economies of scale. And so that a U.S. company or a Chinese company or a Malaysian company – or in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Africa is one of the largest investors in Sub-Saharan Africa. But any of the companies looking at establishing a business in one country can say, “Okay, if I go into Burundi, I will also have access to Kenya and Rwanda and Uganda and Tanzania, because the five of them are in a regional economic community together.”

So we encourage them to do that. We are not concerned about other countries that are engaging with Africa. Many other regions of the world, when they were in the same stage that Africa is now, were inviting in investors and trading partners and joint venture partners from lots of countries around the world. Africa is doing exactly what it needs to do to take advantage of the global economy. And we encourage them to do that. China will do what it does in Africa; the U.S. will do what we do in Africa.

MR. ANDERSEN: Can I just add a point on the regional integration? As I mentioned at the start of my remarks, much of my career has been in the Western hemisphere, and much of that has been involved in a number of free trade agreements that we negotiated. And the reason I bring this up is because even though we’re not negotiating a free trade agreement, obviously, in Sub-Saharan Africa, when we did negotiate with the Central Americans to establish the U.S.-Central American Free Trade Agreement, we had the same point to them on regional integration, that individually they were fairly small markets. But as a group, and they did have a common market amongst themselves that they fully hadn’t integrated with, they were pretty large. They were, I believe at the time, as a region our eleventh largest trading partner. That has real cache with the business community, as Florie said.

When you can enter a market and have access, relatively easy access, the borders are – there aren’t problems at the borders, you can get your goods across to other areas, that makes it a much more attractive venue for other – for U.S. businesses and others. And it’s an important part that – as I said, when we negotiated with the Central Americans, that we really stressed to them the need to get their common market working better so that they could break down some of the barriers amongst themselves that would make it really a regional market.

MS. LISER: That’s exactly right. If I could just touch very quickly on the other questions and then turn to my colleagues from State or back to Commerce – so someone asked, what does the U.S. gain from AGOA? And there are a number of things that we gain. First of all, in terms of the business environment, AGOA has helped to foster the kind of economic reforms and improve business environment in many of our African partners who are eligible for AGOA, which has allowed U.S. businesses to be able to operate more freely and more effectively in those markets. And the way that we now can measure that is that even for the U.S. our exports to the region have more than tripled since AGOA went into place. It was 6.9 billion in exports to Africa in 2001, which was the first year of data after AGOA went into place in 2000. By last year, it was 22.6 billion, by the end of 2012. So we’re doing very well in the African market.

I think the other thing is that we know that there are a lot of opportunities there, and even though many Africans would say they’d like to see more U.S. businesses there, as I travel around the continent to many of the countries, it is very rare to go to any countries where there isn’t a U.S. business there. So we have a huge stake is what I would say.

In the markets and in the economies of sub-Saharan Africa we have large U.S. businesses, but actually lots of medium-sized and small businesses, minority-owned, diaspora-owned businesses that are engaging with their counterparts in Africa and doing quite well. And we have lots of examples of this. I’ll just give you one that I know of. I’ve met with them myself.

Shea butter that’s coming in to the U.S. from a number of the West African countries, Nigeria, Benin, into the U.S. – there is an African-American woman who imports the processed, high-quality shea butter, and here on the U.S. side she employs a small number of women herself who then add different perfumes and essence and oils, et cetera, to the shea butter. They package it up, they do the labeling for it, and those products are being sold in some of our larger stores like CVS and Walgreens, et cetera. So that’s an example of where the women on the other side in this particular case – not that this is just about women, but I like talking about women benefiting from trade.

I went to a shea butter cooperative out in Nigeria and I got a chance to meet the women who were making the shea butter there. They were getting assistance from USAID. And that leads to the second – the third question, which are the constraints on producing value-added products and what help the U.S. was giving. Through our regional trade hubs – we have one in Ghana; we have another one in Botswana for southern Africa, and a third one in Kenya for East Africa. And through our regional trade hubs we are helping small entrepreneurs in these different regions to understand AGOA, to help them with making their products more competitively, and then working with them to come to U.S. trade shows here in the U.S. where they can meet U.S. buyers and potential joint venture partners who are then going to the continent, investing there, and being profitable themselves.

So that’s something that we’re doing, and we have a number of U.S. agencies that provide a range of technical assistance and trade capacity building support to the Africans – everything from the Millennium Challenge Corporation, which is helping with a lot of the infrastructure – ports and roads, farm to market roads; Feed the Future help – which is helping with agricultural competitiveness and productivity, State Department’s involved in that, AID’s involved in that; Commerce Department, through their foreign commercial service officers and a number of other programs they have, they’re also helping U.S. businesses and African businesses to come together. So we have lots of programs that are active there.

And then on the last question: What is the Obama Administration doing in terms of extension of AGOA? I can assure you that we have been meeting with and talking to members of Congress. In fact, tomorrow, I’m going to be in a – on a panel up on Capitol Hill where the entire focus is on AGOA’s reauthorization, and we’ll be talking about what they’re thinking about on the Hill, as well as what the private sector and the U.S. Government are thinking about. I know that my boss, Ambassador Mike Froman, will be making specific calls to some of the members who will be attending the AGOA forum. We have a number of members who are attending the AGOA forum; he’ll be calling them later this week and early next week before we all leave to go to Addis.

So we are very, very focused on what we have to do with Congress and also with AGOA stakeholders, whether it’s the private sector, our African government counterparts, and also civil society, who are very important in this dialogue.

MS. AKUETTEH: I’d like to – just a couple of brief comments on the question of how the United States benefits. As I mentioned earlier, the African students, when I was in graduate school – many years ago – said we want trade not aid. And I think there’s a growing consensus in both the United States and Africa that, indeed, open trade and investment are the fastest ways for African economies to boost their economic growth, to spur development and reduce poverty. And in that way, as we have stable partners, prosperous partners, the United States and the entire global community benefits.

AGOA is a key tool in our efforts to achieve the Administration’s development priorities, and that’s really to see the next generation of emerging markets by building an effective trading partnership between the United States and the communities across Africa. So there’s enormous benefit, not just in terms of companies investing, African companies investing in the United States, the expansion of two-way trade, but the overall peace and security framework is very, very critical to our bilateral relationship.

OPERATOR: Thank you very much. Our question queue has since grown and therefore, in the spirit of accommodating everyone, stick to one question at a time going forward. Just to remind callers to please press *1 on your phone to join the question queue.

Our next question – strictly one question – will come from Accra, Ghana, at the U.S. Mission in Accra, Ghana. Please state your name and affiliation before you ask your question. Please go ahead.

QUESTION: My name is (inaudible) from Ghana News Agency. My question is (inaudible) to better to provide incentives to reduce corruption and have respect for human rights. I wondered what (inaudible) have actually done that’s specific in the sense you actually put in (inaudible) to reduce the problem of corruption in Africa.

MS. LISER: Can we take a couple other questions?

QUESTION: Yeah, it’s just one question.

MS. LISER: No, no, I meant in the queue. Thank you very much. We will definitely answer your question.

MR. ANDERSEN: We would like to batch a question or two if that’s convenient.

OPERATOR: Sure, that’s fine.

MR. ANDERSEN: Okay. Please give us another question or two.

OPERATOR: Yes. Our next question will come from our U.S. Mission in Dakar, Senegal. Strictly one question, please.

QUESTION: Okay. My name is --

OPERATOR: Dakar, Senegal?

QUESTION: Okay. My name is (inaudible). I’m a journalist in Senegal (inaudible). Last (inaudible), President Obama was here in Senegal. He had noticed that the entire Senegalese. Now, I want to know, how you are planning to impact the agriculture sector. Thank you.

MS. LISER: Thank you.

OPERATOR: Thank you very much. Our next question will come from Conakry, our U.S. Mission in Conakry, Guinea. Please go ahead. Strictly one question.

QUESTION: Okay. My name is (inaudible), a radio and television presenter. I would like to know the products eligible for AGOA benefits and who makes the determination regarding AGOA eligibility. Thank you.

OPERATOR: Thank you very much. Our last question of this batch will come from (inaudible) Frederick. Please go ahead.

QUESTION: Thank you. This is Frederick in Annapolis, Maryland. And my question is: There is a huge population of African nationals to the U.S. who definitely play an important role in the development of the continent. And I’m wondering, what (inaudible), whether it’s State Department or Commerce Dept, do to be engaging the African (inaudible) the goals of AGOA?

MS. LISER: Thank you.

OPERATOR: Thank you very much. Can we take one more from Lesotho? Lesotho line is open. This is the last question of the batch (inaudible) for this batch. Lesotho, (inaudible) Lesotho?

MODERATOR: Hi. Can you guys hear, those who are journalists calling?

QUESTION: Hi. My name is (inaudible). I’m a foreign correspondent for BBC in Lesotho. My question is: Lesotho is one of those economies that has benefited in many ways from AGOA, and especially our exports, we can – to almost an 80, 90 percent – textiles and manufacturing exports on – exports to the U.S. So one wonders and we talk about whether or not AGOA (inaudible) is quite crucial (inaudible). When will we know whether or not (inaudible)?

MS. LISER: Okay. So perhaps I can leave the first question on corruption and addressing human rights to my colleague at State if she doesn’t mind. I mean, the basic answer is that as we look every year, annually there is an AGOA eligibility review process, and this links to another question that was asked. The U.S. Government, at the instruction of Congress, according to the AGOA legislation, must undertake an annual review of each country looking at the full range of AGOA eligibility review criteria. And the criteria range everything from taking the right steps in terms of opening their markets and establishing policies that are open, resolving any kind of commercial disputes, to protecting labor rights, child labor, and dealing with things like anticorruption efforts.

And so we look at this every year for every AGOA-eligible country, and even for the countries in Sub-Saharan Africa that are not eligible, because our hope is that at some point, all the countries will be eligible for AGOA. What we’ve done, frankly, is when countries are not addressing human rights appropriately, when there is corruption that is documented and rampant, this is something that we then can, as a part of the AGOA eligibility review process, go in and talk to them about and say, in a demarche that goes out after the AGOA review, “You remain eligible this year, but here were questions that were raised about things that are happening in your country, in your economy, in your political system which were of concern to the United States Government.” And then we may give them some benchmarks. We may say, “We would like to see you do the following things over the course of the next year before we get to the next review.”

And frankly, for some countries that did not take certain actions, we unfortunately had to make them ineligible for AGOA. But we always engage and give them the opportunity to address those concerns about corruption or human rights or child labor or whatever it may be. But then, when they have not done so and it’s been years, then unfortunately Congress is not going to let us continue to make them eligible when they haven’t done anything to resolve the problems. So that’s a long answer on that. And again, this is very, very important not just to the U.S. Administration, but also to the U.S. Congress that put AGOA in place in the first place.

On promotion of agriculture, we work very, very closely with the African countries to help them in terms of improving their agricultural productivity. We have a number of programs: the Feed the Future program; we have the New Alliance for Food Security; the U.S. Department of Agriculture is working with the African countries in terms of helping them to, again, improve productivity, improve competitiveness, to meet the safety and other standards for food exports, whether it’s raw food or it’s value-added processed food products. We have a number of programs that are helping there. And President Obama had the pleasure in Senegal of actually being with some of the agricultural producers in Senegal who are using new technologies to also help them be more productive. So he was very delighted with what they had to show him.

Products that are eligible for AGOA – it would be better to do it the opposite way. Most products are eligible for AGOA. About 98 percent of what the Africans ship to the U.S. are eligible for AGOA. We have a few agricultural products that are not eligible if they go over a certain amount, but within that quota amount, they are actually duty-free under AGOA. And then we have a few processed products like non-apparel – some non-apparel textiles, like pillows, for example, that may not be eligible. But the vast majority of Africa’s exports to the U.S. are eligible for duty-free treatment coming into the U.S., either under AGOA, under our GSP program, the Generalized System of Preferences program, or on an MFN basis, Most Favored Nation basis, which means everybody in the world gets to ship then to the U.S. duty-free.

African nationals in the U.S., the diaspora and what we’re doing to help them advance the goals of AGOA: We have met with diaspora groups. I have spoken to various diaspora groups all around the country, encouraging them to be more involved in joint ventures with their home countries. And I think all of us know that many Africans here are sending money home. This is supporting their families in meeting basic needs and education, but what’s happening more now is that African diaspora here and in other places, from Canada and Europe, are also investing in their home economies. And that is something that is growing and we would like to see even more of that.

And when will we know – the question from Lesotho – when will we know about AGOA extensions? Obviously, we’re asking the same question of Congress. When I meet with members of Congress tomorrow, I’ll be asking that question because this is very important to us. We hope and we think we have a building coalition on the Hill, on Capitol Hill, in the U.S. Congress to extend AGOA – to not wait for extension of AGOA in 2015. Some of the previous extensions of AGOA have happened very, very close to the expiration. We don’t want to see that happen again, and I have now heard a number of members of Congress on both the House side and the Senate side say that they recognize the damage that that did to the Africans by waiting so long, and that it’s their desire to work with their partners across the aisle, Democrat and Republican, Congress, House and Senate, to try to extend AGOA. Maybe it’ll even happen in 2014 if we are fortunate. That would be very, very good.

And to the journalist from Lesotho, we know that there was an impact on Lesotho when the third-country fabric provision just about expired before its extension in 2012. And we now know that Lesotho is just about back to par in terms of your apparel exports to the U.S., but you lost some ground and then it took all this time to regain it. So we definitely don’t want to see that happen again in terms of the next AGOA extension.

MS. AKUETTEH: I think you did a superb – (laughter) – superb job on addressing the issue of how we use AGOA as a tool to address corruption issues. But I just want to say that AGOA is one tool, but a very important tool, but we also use other tools through diplomatic engagement, through our work with civil society in terms of building their capacity, through our work with training journalists, through our international visitors programs of bringing officials here to the United States to address corruption. But AGOA is an important tool and we take very seriously issues of fighting corruption and also respecting human rights.

MR. ANDERSEN: And I would just add, in 2010, and actually for – before that, my department has been working directly with some of the business communities in Sub-Saharan Africa. In 2010, we did a business ethics workshop in Zambia that featured private sector and other government officials from Botswana who actually had put together, at sort of the ground up, a business ethics code of conduct. As we recognize, AGOA does a lot to deal with these issues, but some of the answers, or a lot of the answers are best worked – or will work better internally. And if you can get the business community behind that, that’s an important first step. We’ve done that in other parts of the world and with some success. And then back this year in Ethiopia, we are going to do another business ethics workshop focusing largely on ethics and government – governance issues on the infrastructure and construction projects. So I think while it’s a little bit of a smaller thing in the bigger – in terms of events, it does have that sort of let’s bring the private sector in, get them engaged, what they can do in their communities and countries to help with a number of these issues.

And then just on the diaspora outreach, as I mentioned earlier, the Doing Business in Africa Campaign has that as one of its key features, and reaching out to that community. And I would also point out that when he was in Africa, the President did announce that the Secretary of Commerce, Penny Pritzker, would be taking a business mission to Sub-Saharan Africa at some point in 2014. Now, we haven’t worked out the logistics. We don’t know what sectors she’ll cover, what companies will go, and even what countries. But there is that commitment to bring U.S. companies to the region in order to do business and get more familiar with what the opportunities are.

MODERATOR: Okay. Now we’d like to batch two quick questions from Washington. We have Sub-Saharan Press and VOA. Please ask your question now. Go ahead.
QUESTION: Good morning. My name is (inaudible) from Voice of America. The first question I have is regarding AGOA, and (inaudible) --

MODERATOR: Can you get it into the phone?

QUESTION: (Inaudible) from Voice of America. And the question I have is regarding how successful AGOA has been in Africa. We know it has created tens of thousands of jobs, but it hasn’t been as effective as it was designed to be. There’s been a call for a presidential-level delegation going to the AGOA meetings, and it hasn’t materialized yet. Should we see this happening this year or in future AGOA conferences?

Another question is --

MODERATOR: We just have time for one question, thank you.

QUESTION: Okay. My name is (inaudible) and I have a quick question regarding accessing some of the available programs. So I just came from Ethiopia a week ago, and some of the diaspora (inaudible) was trying to utilize some of the tools available in USAID and through the Embassy, but there is some difficulties accessing the compound, the programs and accessing some of the (inaudible). So what are you planning to do in limiting those challenges?

QUESTION: Pamela Glass with Le Mauricien newspaper in Mauritius. There seems to be general agreement that AGOA needs to be extended and the African stakeholders in this would like to see at least a 15-20 year extension. I was wondering how you thought, first of all, how realistic that is to go up to a 20-year extension. And also, this program, as I understand it, was never expected to go on forever. Ad I was wondering whether the Administration, seeing some of the success of it but also some of the drawbacks that need to be addressed on it to make it even more successful, would consider advocating to Congress for creating this program to be a permanent trade program. Thank you.

MS. LISER: So on the question of the effectiveness of AGOA, one of the things – I happen to have been around when – the early years of even thinking about AGOA, before it was even adopted by Congress, and I would just say very quickly that in that time, we knew that we wanted to use trade as a tool for economic growth and to grow the relationship between the United States and Africa. And the products that actually got added to those that are GSP – because I think everyone knows that there are about 4,600 products that are eligible for GSP. That’s for everybody.

But what we did with AGOA was we added about 1,800 additional products in sectors that other countries weren’t going to be allowed to ship to the U.S. duty-free. They included value-added agricultural products like fresh and chilled fish. It included canned fruits and fruit juices. It included leather products such as leather footwear, apparel and some textiles. These were the 1,800.

And what I think we were not fully aware of then, if we admit it today looking backwards, there was an expectation that once we simply opened the U.S. market for those products, that the Africans were actually producing those products that could be competitive in the U.S. market – footwear and apparel, et cetera – and those products would start to flood into the U.S. market. And frankly, that was not the case. There were very few African countries that already had a well-established manufacturing base, and those that did have a manufacturing base – say they were producing textiles – were not producing Western-style clothing for the most part. They were producing very beautiful African textiles products. Leather shoes were being produced in a number of African countries – Nigeria, Ethiopia, Tanzania, et cetera. However, they were not Western-style leather footwear.

So what has happened over the course of AGOA is the Africans have now started to get the kind of technical assistance that they need, the investment that’s needed – whether it’s local investment or foreign direct investment – to actually produce products that are sold on the global markets, whether it’s in the United States or Europe or Brazil or wherever. And now that they are producing more of that, we’re seeing them export more to the U.S.

I want to use just a couple of examples of things that have happened just so people get a difference. In 2001, the Africans exported about $359 million in apparel to us. In 2012, it was $815 million. Another example would be fruits and nuts, and so we’re talking now about – not probably raw fruits and nuts, but processed fruits and nuts. In 2001, they exported $29.4 million, but by 2012, it was $121 million. And then I’ll just use one last example, which I think is amazing – footwear – because we know that the biggest producer of footwear, as is also true with apparel, is China. But people are moving away from China because their labor costs are getting higher and also because the Chinese want to produce other products in the manufacturing value chain like autos and washing machines and so forth, so they’re moving towards that, and this leaves room for the Africans to be the suppliers of these products.

So, footwear. In 2001, the Africans exported $242,000 worth of footwear to us, almost nothing. In 2012, it was $7.4 million. So, yes, it’s still small, but you have to start somewhere, and I believe, lots of us believe that – and I’ve been in a lot of factories in Africa. I actually like doing that. Instead of just going and sitting around at tables and meetings, I like to get out to the factories. And they take me there, so I get a chance to see all of this firsthand. They are producing a lot of that. Eyewear: a lot of sunglasses coming from the Africans now. Toys, footwear, cut flowers, value-added agricultural products – it’s happening. And so I think we’ll see much, much more of that happening.

On the heads of state meeting, you may have missed it, but President Obama announced that in 2014, we are going to host the first-ever U.S.-Africa heads of state summit, and we are really excited about that. That’s – it’s something that’s actually been in the AGOA legislation since it was launched, and we’ve never done it. We are doing it in 2014.

Accessing available programs? I would have to know more of what you’re talking about, because sometimes, people are going to USAID. My colleagues, they – and they’re just looking for, okay, what kind of funds do you have that can help us. But I think that when you have a specific sector that you’re focused on – let’s just say it’s footwear; Ethiopia’s sending us a lot of footwear – if you are someone here in the United States as an Ethiopian American, and you have gone to meet with Brown Shoe and other major buyers of footwear from around the world and you are going to serve a role in connecting up the Ethiopian footwear producers with the U.S. major buyers of footwear, and you have a specific role and skill that you bring to it, that’s what people need. That’s what folks are going to then be able to say, “Okay, AID has some money that they’re putting into Ethiopia, helping them in their footwear sector. This gentleman right here says he knows how to help do that. So now we’re going to loop him into that.”

But if you’re just going to USAID or the U.S. Trade and Development Agency and saying, “I’m an Ethiopian American and I’d like to help increase trade with Ethiopia,” it’s not going to happen. So there has to be specific investments, specific sectors and skills you bring.

And let me just end on that one by saying I have been to a number of Ethiopian factories which have been started by Ethiopian Americans, people who lived here for 10, 15, 20 years, have gone back to Ethiopia. One apparel factory that we went to is doing fantastically and shipping scrubs for people in the hospitals and stuff here, doing very, very well, as well as other products that they’re doing, and that is an Ethiopian American that runs that. So I have been to a number of factories like that in Ethiopia and in other countries that are AGOA-eligible.

And then the last question was on the 15-20 year extension, is that realistic, and what about permanent. No, we do not think actually that making AGOA permanent would actually help the Africans. Why? Lots of countries around the world are negotiating free trade agreements with particular partners, and if I can just – it’s easier for me to do it visually, but if this is zero and the African products are coming in at zero, and the other countries in the world were coming in at a higher tariff rate, and all of those are coming down now – coming down, coming down, coming down – the point here is that if you are not becoming more competitive in whatever it is you produce, these other guys, their duties are coming down.

So you’ve got to, as Africans, become more competitive. Simply giving you AGOA duty-free access forever is not going to do that. So we would rather give a set period of time for extension. I don't know how long Congress will decide. I think it’s premature for us to say how long it would be, but here’s what we also know, and I’ll end on this point: The Africans are negotiating two-way reciprocal agreements with the Europeans right now. Most of them are working on these. They’re called economic partnership agreements. Those agreements are supposed to be finalized by 2014. So even before AGOA has ended this time, the Europeans are already going to be getting duty-free access or lower tariff access into African markets that we’re interested in.

So here’s the question that people in Congress and our businesses are asking: Why should the United States, which also has an interest in African markets and also has partners in Africa and joint ventures in Africa – why should we continue to give access to the Africans duty-free into our market while they give better treatment to the Europeans into their markets? What’s the reason why we would give them 10, 15, 20 more years of AGOA under those circumstances?

Africa was in a different place in 2000 when AGOA first started, and we have to look at where Africa is today. And Africa is doing great. There are many, many opportunities in Africa, and so as we think about extending AGOA – and we’ve already committed to do that – we also need to look at what is the future of the U.S.-African trade and economic relationship. Do we want to just do what we did 12 years ago, 13 years ago when AGOA was first there, or do we want to do something that’s going to enhance two-way U.S.-Africa trade and investment? And I think that’s the question and that’s a part of what Ambassador Froman, on behalf of the U.S. Government, will be doing in this AGOA review process that he will officially launch during the forum in Ethiopia.

OPERATOR: Thank you very much. Our last question of the call will come from our U.S. mission (inaudible). One question quickly. Please go ahead.

QUESTION: (Inaudible). Hi, my name is (inaudible). And (inaudible) just want to know (inaudible).

MS. LISER: So if there’s just one question – I mean, for me, I feel like the sky is the limit. Because when you look at how other countries that are now middle-income countries or even some of the advanced economies like the United States, the path of development, I think, is one that – it’s not that it has to be that way for Africa, but I share with people that when I was growing up as a little girl in Brooklyn, New York, all the things that were sort of the trinkets that were made, items for parties and all of that, all of these things said “Made in Japan” in those days. And then what you saw was there was a progression of the kinds of products that Japan made. Many of the countries around the world, including China, have followed that pattern. They’ve started with low-end, low-processed products, and they moved up to engines for jet airplanes and nuclear – products for nuclear processing and so forth. And China’s not at the upper end of that yet. I tell people we don’t have automobiles, for example, coming into the U.S. yet. But don’t blink too long, because you will see that that’s going to happen.

So here’s where Africa is. They are where China was probably – I want to say 25 to 30 years ago. Many economists say that. And if we look at the products that they’re producing now, and I have been fortunate to go to these factories and see it for myself, I feel that there are a range of products. You ask what products? I think a range of products. I have a paperclip sitting in front of me. It could be paperclips, it could be – there’s a microphone sitting in front of me. Everything that we wear, that are on our feet – this table was made in a factory somewhere. This microphone equipment was made in a factory somewhere. Somewhere a job was created, an investment was attracted to make all of this. The suit I have on was made somewhere. John’s tie was made somewhere. Cynthia’s eyeglasses were made in a factory somewhere. So – my jewelry was made in a factory somewhere.

And that is Africa’s potential. That’s what we’re talking about. Any and everything that the world needs is something that Africa can make. And if they can’t make it today, maybe they can make it in five years. Maybe they can make it 10 years. And maybe in 20 years, the automobiles coming into the U.S. will be made in Africa. But I’m saying even right now, to be frank, we have automobiles coming into the U.S. produced in South Africa, lots of them coming in. And one question for Lesotho and the countries surrounding South Africa now is: Are there parts that you could make in that value chain that would go into automobiles that South Africa is shipping to the U.S. right now, BMWs and Mercedes-Benzes? Could you make the mirrors, the rugs that go on the floor? Could Botswanan leather and Namibian leather go into the seats that are in those cars? And that’s how the global values chains work.

So as partners, the five of you in SACU, the Southern African Customs Union, as you work together, there are many opportunities for Lesotho and Namibia and Botswana, working with South Africa, because they are the largest exporter of non-oil products to the U.S. under AGOA. So that’s what we see as a future for Lesotho, and we hope that more of that will happen so that even when the car comes in from South Africa, in that car will be parts that are there from Lesotho or the other countries in the surrounding region. That’s what everybody else in the world has done, so that’s what we’re looking forward to.

OPERATOR: That concludes today’s call. I want to thank (inaudible) for joining us and thank all of our callers for participating. If you have any questions at all about today’s call, you can contact the African Regional Media Hub at (inaudible). Thank you very much, and goodbye.

MODERATOR: Thank you, all. This event is also concluded on the Foreign Press Center’s side. That’s it.

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