Francisco Sánchez serves as the Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade. Follow him on Twitter @UnderSecSanchez.
Aerial view of Cape Town, South Africa. (photo © Graham Bedingfield/iStock)
Now is a great time to do business in Africa. Consider these stats, highlighted today in remarks given by Acting Secretary Rebecca Blank:
- Sub-Saharan Africa is home to 6 of the 10 fastest growing markets in the world.
- Economic growth in the region is predicted to be strong – between 5 and 6 percent – in coming years.
- And – most importantly – millions of Africans are finding a path from poverty to greater opportunity and prosperity.
This progress is good news for our friends in Africa; it’s also good news for American businesses. As these numbers show, the growing African market is an increasingly attractive destination for quality products and services. It just so happens that goods that are “Made in America” are the best in the world. Now, we just need to link this supply with the demand, and make it easier for U.S. firms to operate in the dynamic African market.
One important effort towards achieving this goal: the “Doing Business in Africa” (DBIA) campaign which I launched with Acting Secretary Blank in South Africa earlier today.
It’s a whole-of-government approach that will:
- promote more U.S. trade with Africa;
- increase trade financing;
- and engage with important stakeholders – like the United States’ African Diaspora community – to ensure they have all the tools needed to do business in the African market.
To achieve these goals, the campaign is involved in a number of initiatives, including:
- organizing an Africa Global Business Summit Series so that U.S. companies can hear directly from our Ambassadors in Africa and Senior Commercial Officers about opportunities in the region;
- opening the U.S.-Africa Clean Energy Development and Finance Center in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2013 to help identify and access U.S. government support for clean energy export and investment needs; and
- developing an Africa Business Portal, providing valuable information about trade assistance programs and financing.
To learn more about the DBIA campaign, visit the website. It’s sure to represent an important step towards the goal of increased prosperity and opportunity.
Another important step that coincided with the launch of the DBIA campaign is our historic trade mission to Zambia – the first-ever. I am currently leading a delegation of 13 U.S. companies to both Zambia and South Africa.
This trade mission represents an important opportunity for U.S. businesses. Trade between the U.S. and these two countries is booming. In the case of U.S. and Zambia, total bilateral trade more than doubled in 2011.
In the case of South Africa, the largest U.S. export market in Sub-Saharan Africa, total U.S.-South Africa trade was nearly $17 billion in 2011, up from $13.9 billion the year before. And, both the companies on the mission and the parties we are meeting with are determined to keep this momentum going.
To accomplish this, we are talking with public and private sector officials to facilitate U.S. business opportunities in Sub-Saharan Africa. Participating firms are gaining market insights, making industry contacts, and solidifying business strategies with the goal of increasing U.S. exports to the region.
By boosting U.S. exports, we can strengthen the American economy and fuel economic growth. This work also advances the President Obama’s vision of greater U.S. engagement in Sub-Saharan Africa, as outlined by the Administration’s “U.S. Strategy on Sub-Saharan Africa” released in June.
All of us at the Department of Commerce share the President’s belief that Africa can be the world’s next great economic success story and value the opportunity to leverage our resources to support this trade mission and the Doing Business in Africa campaign.
Visit the DBIA website on Export.gov to learn more about this exciting new initiative.