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Thoughts from Day 5 of Our Historic Trade Mission to Africa

March 11, 2010

Suresh Kumar is the Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Director General of the U.S. & Foreign Commercial Service

Greetings from Johannesburg! I just arrived here last night, on a flight from Dakar, where I have been leading 8 terrific U.S. companies on a Commerce Department trade mission to Senegal and South Africa. This delegation represents the first trade mission of the Obama Administration to Sub-Sahara Africa, and the first trade mission by the U.S. Government to Senegal in over ten years.

Our delegation completed a whirlwind three days in Senegal. We made great progress in laying a foundation for increased commercial engagement that will lead to a stronger Africa and a stronger America. Our Foreign Commercial Service office in Dakar arranged matchmaking meetings for our companies with over 70 qualified Senegalese buyers. U.S. Ambassador Marcia Bernicat and I had frank and constructive meetings with the Prime Minister and other senior ministers. We emphasized the Obama Administration’s commitment to free and fair trade, and open and transparent processes. We also secured a Memorandum of Understanding from the Government of Senegal on following FAA guidelines covering federal air marshals.

I have spent the last few years working with African leaders on strategies for developing their nations. This mission reinforced that trade more than aid leads to sustainable economic stability and prosperity. Clearly, the International Trade Administration, through the US & Foreign Commercial Service, has a pivotal road to play in expanding trade to create jobs, and ensuring that U.S. economic and national security interests are protected.

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