Posts Tagged ‘Africa’

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Africa Matters: Why the U.S. Should Bolster its Trading Relationships with African Countries

July 5, 2018

Businesses can help grow African economies, create more job opportunities and export more products to the continent’s markets.

This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.

This post originally appeared on the UPS Blog, Longitudes.

Laura Lane | UPS

As Vice Chair of the President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa (PAC-DBIA), I am pleased to be co-leading the private sector contingent of a U.S. Department of Commerce delegation to Africa to learn about and discover new opportunities for U.S. businesses to partner, invest and grow across the continent.

tour of Ethiopian Airlines’ air cargo facility

Laura and the rest of the PAC-DBIA delegation toured Ethiopian Airlines’ air cargo facility and saw first-hand the company’s capabilities to manage all kinds of temperature-sensitive products – from flowers and produce to pharmaceuticals.

Led by the Secretary of Commerce and the Under Secretary of Commerce for the International Trade Administration, the 2018 PAC-DBIA fact-finding mission is exploring potential commercial growth in Ethiopia, Kenya, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire and determining how to overcome barriers to market access and expansion in these markets.

The group prioritized these four countries because of the steps each is taking to create a more business-friendly environment.

Ethiopia is making significant investments in infrastructure and manufacturing centers and moving away from a statist economy to a more market-oriented one; Kenya is promoting business development and actively seeking U.S. companies’ engagement in its power, aviation, healthcare, transportation and agribusiness sectors; Côte d’Ivoire’s government is equally pro-business and seeks more U.S. companies to engage in its transportation and energy sectors to diversify beyond its traditional francophone partners; and Ghana has launched the Beyond Aid Initiative with a particular focus on developing its rail, road, mining and manufacturing sectors.

I have witnessed first-hand the amazing transformation that is possible when countries implement the right policy and programmatic changes.

Laura and the rest of the PAC-DBIA delegation stopped by the African Development Bank.

Laura and the rest of the PAC-DBIA delegation stopped by the African Development Bank.

In 1993-1994, I served as a U.S. Foreign Service Officer in Kigali, Rwanda. While I was there, a genocidal civil war broke out that would claim the lives of nearly 1 million Rwandan men, women and children. Now, more than two decades later, the country is defined by its remarkable strides forward: Rwandans’ life expectancy has doubled; their GDP has averaged 8 percent growth in the last decade; and the poverty rate has fallen dramatically.

In 2016, Rwanda became the first country to establish a policy framework that enabled UPS – in partnership with GAVI and Zipline – to use drones to deliver blood and medical supplies to remote parts of the country. When I returned to Kigali that same year to help launch the drone project, I could hardly believe that this modern, forward-looking and ambitious market was the war-torn country I’d left in 1994.

With the PAC-DBIA, I’ve had the chance to continue learning about Africa’s strengths from the commercial perspective. Rwanda – one of the countries previously visited by the PAC-DBIA – has certainly come a long way and deserves recognition for its advances, but it is far from the only country experiencing such growth and success in Africa.

As the continent takes its place on the global stage, many of its countries offer significant opportunities in terms of U.S.-Africa commercial engagement, thanks to a growing middle class, increasing infrastructure investment and untapped trade markets.

However, overcoming corruption and other market-limiting obstacles will be important next steps for each African government to take to allow American firms to become more robust partners in developing the continent’s economic future.

Growing population and middle class

Many African countries have booming populations that offer significant opportunities to companies considering an investment outside of the U.S. In fact, half of the world’s fastest-growing country populations are in Africa. In addition to overall population growth, the continent’s middle class has grown to 350 million, resulting in increased spending power and consumption.

Already, research shows the African middle class represents more than $400 million in daily spending power. As even more people move into the middle class, they will look for an increasingly diverse and sophisticated array of both necessities and higher value-added goods, which American firms can readily supply.

Investing in infrastructure

But spending power means little if people can’t get to the shops, trucks can’t move products to and from the border and delivery routes are impassable. For U.S. companies to operate in Africa, appropriate and sufficient infrastructure must be put in place – and African countries are hard at work making it happen.

Across the continent, countries are actively investing in transportation infrastructure, water access, energy reliability and other facets of civil engineering that will improve its residents’ standard of living.

As a point of reference, in 2016, Africa actively pursued 286 infrastructure projects worth $324 billion, more than a third of which were in the transport sector. These investments have been critical to meaningful growth on the continent and helping open its countries for business – both within Africa and with the rest of the world.

Africa has financed many of these projects with tied aid, and experts disagree on whether this kind of funding is ultimately beneficial or not. Unlike some of Africa’s other trade and investment partners, the U.S. has made clear – through efforts like the PAC-DBIA trip – that it does not seek to exploit the continent’s natural resources or send it diving into debt.

Instead, U.S. companies want to undertake projects that can accelerate job growth and bring private sector financing to the table.

Public-private partnerships and pro-business policies are two ways African countries could encourage this investment. Public-private partnerships allow American companies to share their best business practices with African partners, which creates a more favorable environment for both parties and enables local African businesses and jobs markets to flourish.

Policies that create a more business-friendly climate also drive the incentive to invest. Ghana, for example, has been pursuing a pro-business environment by reducing and eliminating certain tax barriers, introducing paperless clearance processes at the ports and embarking on a regulatory reform program.

Not only are these improvements attractive to U.S. investors, they can also help shift the U.S.-Africa economic dynamic to one based more solidly on trade and commercial relationships.

Tapping into new markets

Infrastructure, however, isn’t wholly effective for economic growth with limited access to the global goods and services trade. In addition to improved infrastructure, companies need dynamic trade policy that allows intra-continent and worldwide engagement.

As Africa’s consumer bases grow, so will the demand for foreign goods and services – including American products. Additionally, Africa’s growing manufacturing base needs to import critical inputs to develop more cost-efficient and productive machinery.

Therefore, to meet the growing demands of its consumer and manufacturing bases – and achieve the resulting economic expansion – Africa must create a policy framework that is conducive to strategic imports, more efficient borders and frictionless supply chains.

When I worked at the Office of the United States Trade Representative, I oversaw trade-related negotiations between the U.S. and markets around the world.

The resultant agreements increased both U.S. trade and GDP as well as those of the other parties – and we would expect the same result of trade agreements with African countries. In fact, each time a trade agreement is signed in a country in which UPS operates, we see a 20 percent increase in export volume to that trade partner.

As the continent expands its commercial partnerships, pursues the Continental Free Trade Area through the African Union and develops bilateral trade agreements with the U.S., I know that trade will become an even more critical component of Africa’s short- and, more importantly, long-term prosperity.

Overcoming corruption

Despite huge opportunities on the African continent, many companies are still hesitant to invest or trade there. The No. 1 reason for this hesitancy is corruption.

Simply put, foreign direct investment only goes where it is safe and protected. Most companies don’t want to – and, by law, can’t – engage in business in countries where bribery is commonplace. Moreover, governments don’t want to trade with other countries that aren’t upfront about their policies.

The only way to increase trust and cooperation between countries is to value the rule of law and ensure that it prevails over corrupt practices. The assurance that companies, their investments and their intellectual property will be protected by law allows trade relationships to flourish.

Kenya sets a great example for taking the important steps to combat corruption. Kenyans have demanded that the government find ways to eradicate corrupt practices, and officials have responded with public statements with similar messaging.

This powerful combination of support for the rule of law and adoption of anti-corruption practices makes any country on this trajectory more attractive for economic and commercial partners.

Looking to the future

With the support of U.S. and African leaders, businesses like UPS – as an American company dedicated to realizing the benefits of greater trade and increased investment flows – can help grow African economies, create more job opportunities both at home and abroad and export more products to the continent’s markets.

I look forward to working with the rest of the PAC-DBIA delegation to identify ways we can partner with like-minded African governments for mutually beneficial growth, and I hope this trip clearly demonstrates the U.S. government and business community’s commitment to expanding trade and investment in sub-Saharan Africa – not just for the benefit of American companies, but for African countries and their companies and consumers as well.

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U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Completes Fact-Finding Mission With President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa

February 5, 2016

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

U.S. Secretary Pritzker completed her fact-finding mission to Africa with the President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa (PAC-DBIA) in Kigali, Rwanda. The goal of the trip for the PAC-DBIA members was to listen and learn, and in the near future, provide recommendations to President Obama and Secretary Pritzker that will guide the Administration’s policy choices with respect to enhancing commercial ties between the U.S. and countries across Africa. Secretary Pritzker and the Council also visited Nigeria from January 25-26 and Rwanda from January 27-28.

DBIA

Secretary Pritzker met with a group of local women entrepreneurs in Kigali, Rwanda to learn about the successes and challenges they’ve experienced in starting their businesses. The Secretary traveled to Nigeria and Rwanda for a fact-finding mission with senior U.S. business executives who comprise the President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa (PAC-DBIA).

Rwanda is one of Africa’s economic success stories and a key partner within the East African Community (EAC). From 2000 to 2012, Rwanda’s economy grew at 8.1 percent per year. Furthermore, Rwanda has significantly improved its rankings in the World Banks’ Ease of Doing Business Index – Rwanda is ranked as 62nd out of 189 economies in the 2016 report and the second-best in Africa behind Mauritius. Less than a decade ago, Rwanda was ranked 143rd. The Council chose to visit Rwanda to gain a deeper understand of what Rwanda has done that has worked, and how the country’s progress can serve as an example for others in the region and across the continent.

In Kigali, the group first visited the Gisozi Genocide Memorial, home to the remains of victims of the 1994 genocide, which has become a permanent memorial, museum, and archive. Secretary Pritzker had the opportunity to pay tribute to those lost in the genocide and recognize Rwanda’s progress in moving beyond the tragedy.

Secretary Pritzker then met with Rwanda President Paul Kagame, to discuss ways to deepen the commercial relationship with Rwanda and some of the challenges facing our two nations. Following their meeting , Secretary Pritzker and President Kagame were joined by the PAC-DBIA members and African business executives for a roundtable about the economic benefits of increasing regional trade and integration efforts among the countries of the East African Community (EAC). While the EAC is the most progressive trading region in Africa, it still faces many challenges in areas like transportation and energy infrastructure and customs modernization. Private sector investments from both U.S. and African businesses would not only help solve these issues, but would also create new opportunities for increased U.S.-African commercial ties.

To wrap-up the visit in Kigali, Secretary Pritzker and Ambassador Erica J. Barks-Ruggles hosted a roundtable with local businesswomen and gave the Council an opportunity to learn how they are contributing to the culture of entrepreneurship in the country. Rwanda is known for high rates of female participation in business and government, and members of the PAC-DBIA heard about the policies and programs –  whether instituted by the Government of Rwanda or directly supported by the U.S. Embassy – that have created such opportunities for women.  They also discussed the specific challenges entrepreneurs face, both as women and as business owners.

The Secretary’s fact-finding mission to Nigeria and Rwanda underscores the Obama Administration’s commitment to shifting the U.S. economic relationship with Africa from one based on aid to one based on trade and investment. During this trip, Secretary Pritzker also announced the second U.S.-Africa Business Forum, which will take place during the week of September 19, 2016, on the occasion of the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly. The first forum brought together hundreds of American and African CEOs with nearly every African head of state in an effort to spur more trade and investment between the United States and the 54 countries of Africa.

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Fox School of Business Partnering up for Trade Winds—Africa

September 3, 2015

This is a guest blog. Rebecca Geffner is Director of International and Executive Programs and the Center for International Business Education and Research at the Fox School of Business at Temple University, a Marketing Partner for Trade Winds—Africa. 

 Rebecca Geffner

Rebecca Geffner is a Director at the Fox School of Business at Temple University, a Marketing Partner for Trade Winds—Africa.

This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.

Temple University’s Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) focuses on increasing U.S. competitiveness overseas.  In order to fulfill this mandate, we continue to support programming and other efforts that encourage local business to trade and amplify their potential in global markets.

With existing relationships already in place in Ghana and Morocco, we at Temple CIBER and the Fox School of Business recognize the importance of Africa in the global arena and know that the opportunities for business around the continent are plenty as Africa’s “emergence” continues to be front and center.

We will be participating in Trade Winds—Africa this year as a marketing partner in order to encourage and support our business community in their efforts to expand their trading partnerships with African businesses.

I am looking forward to meeting all of the participants at the conference in South Africa to exchange ideas and also to bring home takeaways for our business students on the significance of the U.S.’s increasing presence in Africa.

At Fox, we are committed to providing a student-centered education and professional development relevant to today’s digital, global economy.  As future business leaders, our students must understand the needs, the opportunities and the climate of business in the region and truly gain a perspective on how some of the fastest growing economies in the world are centered in Sub-Saharan Africa.

I am also excited to meet new university partners and representatives from the embassies to discuss opportunities to further cross cultural dialogue and exchange programs and projects for our business students.

Temple CIBER and the Fox School are delighted to be working with our longstanding partners at the U.S. Commercial Service on this event and hope to see many businesses within the Philadelphia region participate in this important event.

Safe travels and see you in Johannesburg!

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Partnering to Bring More Businesses to Some of the World’s Most Promising Markets

August 12, 2015

Denis Csizmadia is a Senior International Trade Specialist in the U.S. Commercial Service’s Export Assistance Center in Greenville, SC.

I’ll be blunt: we are about five weeks away from one of the most important trade missions in U.S. history.

Trade Winds—Africa will be the largest-ever U.S. government-led trade mission to the continent, and the U.S. Commercial Service will connect more than 100 companies to business opportunities in eight of the world’s fastest-growing markets.

We’ll have local market experts, Fortune 500 companies that are already succeeding on the continent, innovative U.S. small businesses, and key government decision-makers all under one roof and with one objective: to connect U.S. companies to the most promising business opportunities on the continent.

The best part is, your company can have its name and logo all over it.

We’re currently recruiting Marketing Partners to join the mission and be a part of our Business Forum in Johannesburg, South Africa. Representatives from your company can join the Forum and receive all the benefits of attendees, plus additional benefits as a marketing partner:

  • Key networking sessions,
  • One-on-one business counseling,
  • Access to local thought leaders,
  • Your corporate logo on promotional materials,
  • Display space at the Forum.

The United States is all in on doing business in Africa, and more and more companies are targeting the market with help from U.S. government assistance. This is a great opportunity for your company to get ahead of the curve and establish itself as a leader in the trend of doing business in Africa.

Officials on the continent have told us that they are ready for more U.S. companies to do business in their markets. Consumers are actively seeking the Made-in-America label. U.S. companies large and small are increasing revenue and making an impact in developing markets.

I’d like to thank all the great companies, organizations, and agencies that have signed up as Trade Winds Marketing Partners and I hope many of you will join us on this important mission. There’s never been a better time to do business in Africa, and our team would love to help yours succeed.

Have questions? Feel free to contact us.

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U.S. Innovators, Entrepreneurs and Business Owners Capitalize on Emerging Markets in Africa

July 30, 2015

Evi Fuelle is an intern in the International Trade Administration’s Trade Promotion and Coordinating Committee Office.

Earlier this week, several young innovators and entrepreneurs convened in Nairobi, Kenya, for one of the most exciting entrepreneurial opportunities in the world: the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES).

President Obama and U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker traveled to Africa for the 2015 GES, the global business community’s equivalent of the “World Cup.”

During the sixth annual GES, the President addressed more than 1,200 attendees. The first to be held in sub-Saharan Africa, the 2015 GES shined a spotlight on the growing importance of the Continent as a center of business.

Secretary Pritzker led a delegation of roughly 200 U.S. investors to the Summit, including entrepreneurs at various points of their business development, and a diverse group of leaders and mentors from the business community.

As the Obama administration’s lead for entrepreneurship, Secretary Pritzker participated in a number of events during the GES, including the official pre-summit youth and women session, which brought together 150 entrepreneurs from around the world to provide them with an opportunity to discuss specific challenges, interact with industry experts, and pitch their business ideas to companies. Secretary Pritzker also hosted roundtables and meetings with select entrepreneurs, business leaders, and government officials.

Entrepreneurship is critical to generating economic growth, stimulating employment, and providing a basis for better economic and political stability. The U.S. government continues to lead numerous initiatives to encourage entrepreneurship and business in Africa, including the U.S. Commercial Service’s Trade Winds program, which will begin in South Africa on September 14, and will continue across the Continent through September 21.

The 2015 Trade Winds program offers U.S. companies the opportunity to explore eight markets in Sub-Saharan Africa. Featuring an Africa-focused business forum, the program consists of regional and industry specific conference sessions, as well as pre-arranged consultations with U.S. Senior Government Diplomats representing commercial markets from 19 African countries.

A Business Development Conference will be held from September 16-18 in Johannesburg as a feature of Trade Winds South Africa, giving businesses access to high visibility networking events with leading industry and government officials. The Business Development Conference will also provide businesses with the opportunity to conduct individual consultations with eight U.S. Commercial Service officers and 13 U.S. State Department posts from U.S. Embassies.

Other trade mission stops during Trade Winds Africa will give participants the opportunity to conduct customized business-to-business meetings with pre-screened firms in Angola, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, and Tanzania.

Both the GES and Trade Winds South Africa will provide unparalleled opportunities for U.S. innovators, entrepreneurs and business owners to capitalize on emerging markets in Africa, and the chance to seek out new innovation partners, demonstrating the administration’s commitment to helping entrepreneurs around the world realize the benefits of ingenuity.

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Growing the Export Tradition in North Carolina

June 10, 2015

This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.

Wayne Cooper is the Chair of the District Export Council of North Carolina, a Marketing Partner for the Trade Winds-Africa Business Forum and Trade Mission.

Wayne Cooper

Wayne Cooper

As long as North Carolina has been a state, it’s been an exporter.

One of our first main exports was pine tar, and one rumor has it that our use of pine tar in the Revolutionary War is how we became known as the Tar Heel State. But I’m not writing to talk about rumors, or about the past.

What I want to talk about is the future, and for companies here in North Carolina and around the country, the future is global. We’re on a winning streak here in this state, and I’m not talking about college basketball. North Carolina has set goods export records for four straight years, hitting $31.3 billion in 2014.

Our globally engaged companies are reaping the benefits of that success: finding more revenue, hiring more people, expanding their inventories, their services, and their companies.

Why wouldn’t your company want to find that kind of success?

At the North Carolina District Export Council, the importance of exporting is always top of mind for us. What we want is to help get more North Carolina companies on board.

That’s why we are so glad to work with the U.S. Commercial Service, and it’s why we are partnering on the Trade Winds—Africa Forum. When we talk about the future of global business, it would be folly to not talk about Africa. In development, population, spending power, and just about any other measure, few regions can compete with the growth in Africa.

I hope that companies across the state, from the beautiful sands of the Outer Banks to the highest peak of the Appalachian Mountains, will take a look at opportunities in Africa, and at the Trade Winds mission. If there is any way your company can best take advantage of the opportunities in that continent, it’s with the help of the Commercial Service team.

I want more companies to find the success that our state’s exporters already enjoy, because we all know that there aren’t many places in the world that compete with North Carolina when it comes to manufacturing, building, selling, or providing quality products and services.

Now let me say this in my best North Carolina voice: I hope to see y’all in South Africa!

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Trade Winds – Africa Offers Opportunities, Tips, and Intel to U.S. Firms

May 29, 2015

This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.

Chris Higginbotham is a Communications Specialist in the U.S. Export Assistance Center in Northern Virginia.

Trade Winds Africa Business Development Conference and Trade Mission
Africa is a huge potential market for almost any U.S. exporter, but there are several factors for any business to consider before exporting to the continent:

  • What is your market potential?
  • How should you enter the market?
  • Who can you partner with on the ground?
  • How will you protect your intellectual property?

Good news: the Trade Winds—Africa Business Development Conference and trade mission in September 2015, will answer these questions and connect your company directly to the opportunities on the ground.

Check out the conference program and you’ll see that it runs the gamut of intelligence necessary for U.S. companies to take advantage of opportunities and find success in Africa.

U.S. Commercial Service officers from the region and expert guest panelists will explain how to mitigate business risk, brand your business, take advantage of government support, and access the growing middle class in these important emerging markets.

Click to register by June 15, 2015

Africa is one of the most promising regional markets in the world:

  • Regional economic growth has outpaced the world average and is forecast to continue.
  • A growing middle class means there’s an expanding pool of potential customers.
  • The regional focus on infrastructure development helps simplify the export process.
  • African leaders and consumers recognize and seek out quality American-made goods.

Don’t forget that in addition to the conference, there are also trade mission stops in eight growing African markets, where you will be connected directly to potential partners on the ground.

When you register for Trade Winds, our team will help identify the best markets for you, so you can make the most of your trip.

Are you ready to find your next customers and grow your business? Join us at Trade Winds! To get more information or if you have questions, contact us at tradewinds@trade.gov and follow the conversation on Twitter: #TradeWinds15.