Thursday, September 22, 2016

Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker Delivers Opening Remarks at U.S.-Africa Business Forum

Photo: Penny Pritzker | Twitter

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Delivers Opening Remarks at U.S.-Africa Business Forum

09/21/2016 10:10 AM EDT

Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker opened the second U.S.-Africa Business Forum alongside her co-host for the event, the Honorable Michael Bloomberg. Founder of Bloomberg L.P. & Bloomberg Philanthropies and 108th Mayor of New York City.

Building on the success of the 2014 Forum, this year’s event once again brought together African heads of state and private sector CEOs from the United States and Africa to celebrate the partnerships and innovations that have led to deepened business relationships and to discuss the exciting potential for further collaboration.

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Thank you, Mike, for your leadership and your friendship. It’s been wonderful for the Department of Commerce to partner again with Bloomberg Philanthropies to organize this amazing forum. I want to extend a special welcome to all of our distinguished guests visiting from across the United States and Africa. Mayor Bloomberg and I share a core belief that the private sector – including many of you here today – is a powerful force for progress around the world.

Your businesses, your partnerships, and your investments have helped to solve problems across the African continent and generate prosperity on both sides of the Atlantic. In the process, you have strengthened the economic partnership between the United States and nations across Africa.

Deepening these commercial ties remains a top priority for the Obama Administration. Since the last Forum, our Power Africa initiative has helped fuel power generation projects that are essential for economic growth across sub-Saharan Africa. Trade Africa has increased trade both within the continent and between Africa and the world. And we have extended the African Growth and Opportunity Act for another ten years, which will help more African products reach American customers duty-free.

But government efforts alone are not sufficient. If we are going to grow the U.S.-Africa relationship, the business community is an essential partner.

We all know that, over the two years since the first U.S.-Africa Business Forum, economic growth has slowed across the globe. Volatile markets and the drop in commodity prices have negatively affected many African countries in the short-run, highlighting the need for greater economic diversification. But Africa’s long-term prospects remain strong, and investing in the continent’s future continues to be good business.

In fact, these global headwinds make it even more important that all of us – in government and in business – redouble our shared commitment to solving problems, building new partnerships, promoting further regional integration, and finding new ways to plug all Africans into the global economy. Today is an opportunity to showcase how existing partnerships are already transforming our economic relationship, to celebrate the new deals and investments announced this week, and to shine a spotlight on opportunities for us to continue to work together.

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