Archive for the ‘Doing Business in Africa’ Category


On the Horizon: New Business Endeavors in Sub-Saharan Africa

July 26, 2012

Francisco Sánchez serves as the Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade. Follow him on Twitter @UnderSecSanchez.

Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sanchez testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs on July 25, 2012.

Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sanchez testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs on July 25, 2012.

On June 14th, President Obama announced a new U.S. strategy for Sub-Saharan Africa. This is a region of growing economic prominence and I am pleased that the President is focused on how the U.S. and African countries can work together to expand economic opportunities for all of their citizens.

The U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa will expand our efforts to increase economic growth, trade, and investment in the region while elevating our commercial relationships. It places an emphasis on development and partnerships and as a result, there will be an increased focus on improving economic governance and regional integration, expanding African capacity access global markets, and encouraging U.S. companies to invest in the region.

And that is exactly what I told Congress yesterday while testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs. On the invitation of Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, I was privileged to address the Committee and highlight the important work the Department of Commerce and our own International Trade Administration is doing in the region.

U.S. exports reached $2.1 trillion in total value last year – an all time record. And these exports supported 9.7 million valuable jobs. I want those numbers to climb even higher and Sub-Saharan Africa is a promising venue to do just that.

In fact, in 2011, U.S. exports to Sub-Saharan Africa were just over $21 billion. Rich in natural resources and emerging opportunities, this region has incredible potential. The mutual benefits are boundless and Commerce and the Administration are doing everything we can to develop these partnerships and markets.

To promote business opportunities, Commerce has taken part in a number of initiatives:

  • The U.S. Commercial Service maintains a balanced presence in the region through offices in Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa.
  • Our Partnership Post Program with the State Department operates in 25 countries within Sub-Saharan Africa, providing U.S companies with vital export assistance in numerous lucrative markets. This partnership is an important component of our efforts to leverage federal resources.
  • The hard work of our Advocacy Center has helped U.S companies win bids that will directly support U.S. jobs in several states.
  • Through our chairmanship of the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee (TPCC), we have begun developing a “Doing Business in Africa” campaign. The campaign involves outreach to the African Diaspora communities here in the U.S to raise awareness of federal assistance programs for doing business on the continent.
  • New trade missions have been scheduled and we are starting to recruit participating U.S. businesses. In September, the Department of Commerce will lead an Aerospace Trade Mission to South Africa while November will see a multi-sector mission travel to South Africa and Zambia.
  • We are working to establish the United States-East Africa Community Commercial Dialogue.  Among other things, this initiative will work to create business opportunities in key sectors.
  • And to reassure U.S. businesses, we are working to address concerns regarding intellectual property.  A common anxiety in all instances of international trade, the Commercial Law Development Program is working to structure IP guidelines and hosting workshops to train government officials.

These are just a few of the projects and resources we are developing. I urge everyone to continue to visit our blog for regular updates in the coming months on our work to support U.S. businesses exporting to Africa – and the development of the continent as a whole.


Growth and Opportunities in Sub-Saharan Africa

June 14, 2012

Nicole Y. Lamb-Hale is the Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing and Services within the International Trade Administration

This week I am participating in the 11th Annual U.S.-Sub-Saharan Trade and Economic Forum, hosted this year in Washington, D.C. The event is mandated by the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and is the U.S. Government’s premier high-level, bilateral event with Sub-Saharan Africa. This year’s theme is “Enhancing Africa’s Infrastructure for Trade.”

The AGOA Forum brings together over 600 participants, including senior U.S. and African officials, as well as U.S. and African members of the private sector and civil society.

Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing and Serivces Nicole Y. Lamb-Hale delivers opening remarks during the 11th annual AGOA forum held at the State Department June 7-8. (Photo Commerce)

Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing and Serivces Nicole Y. Lamb-Hale delivers opening remarks during the 11th annual AGOA forum held at the State Department June 7-8. (Photo Commerce)

I am honored to be co-chairing a session with Humberto Brito, Minister of Tourism, Industry and Energy, Cape Verde focused on ways to create an attractive regulatory environment to attract renewable energy investment.

Sub-Saharan Africa is a continent of opportunities for U.S. businesses with overall projected growth rates of approximately six percent in 2012 – some of the highest in the world. In looking at the world’s ten fastest growing economies from 2001 – 2010, six were in Africa. This trend accelerates in 2011-2015 with seven of the ten world’s fastest growing economies being in Africa. In the World Bank’s Doing Business 2012: Doing Business in a More Transparent World an impressive 36 out of 46 economies in Sub-Saharan Africa improved business regulations this year – a record number since 2005. Of the economies that improved the most in the ease of doing business in 2010/2011, with improvements in three or more areas of regulation measured by Doing Business, four of the twelve are Sub-Saharan African countries.

While a plethora of opportunities exist, they must be balanced with the market barriers that can inhibit development. The challenges to doing business in this part of the world are well-known – graft and corruption, weak legal frameworks, customs issues, weak enforcement of intellectual property rights, and lack of infrastructure, among others. The Department of Commerce works diligently on behalf of U.S. companies to not only help U.S. businesses pursue opportunities, but also to facilitate the elimination of these barriers.

The United States Government has been proactive in promoting increased opportunity in Africa. The Department of Commerce led a trade mission of 19 companies to South Africa last fall, and a trade mission to South Africa and Zambia is planned for November this year. In February of this year the State Department also led an energy trade mission to Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya, Nigeria, and Ghana. These missions are ideal opportunities to encourage private sector linkages which in turn underscore economic development as a path towards prosperity, sustained economic growth, and increased trade and investment.