Washington — Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank will travel to South Africa and Kenya next week to advance key elements of the President's "Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa," that will promote economic growth, trade, and investment in the continent.
As part of her trip, Acting Secretary Blank will officially launch the "Doing Business in Africa" campaign, an Administration initiative to help American businesses identify and seize opportunities that will further the United States' commercial, trade, and investment relationship with Africa.
"As President Obama has said, Africa is a region of growing opportunity and promise, and it has the potential to be the world's next major economic success story," said Acting Secretary Blank. "As part of our efforts under the National Export Initiative to support U.S. companies in selling their goods and services to the world, we must do everything possible to ensure we are promoting trade and investment with Africa. The Department of Commerce has an important role to play when it comes to helping American companies understand the trade and investment opportunities in Africa that will not only support the region's economic expansion, but will also create jobs in America."
On June 14, 2012, the President issued the U.S. "Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa," under which the United States will pursue four objectives in the region: strengthening democratic institutions; spurring economic growth, trade and investment; advancing peace and security; and promoting opportunity and development. As part of spurring economic growth, trade and investment, the Strategy specifically calls for the development of a "Doing Business in Africa" campaign. This campaign will leverage the federal government's trade promotion, financing and strategic communications capabilities to help U.S. businesses identify and seize opportunities in Africa, and to help them overcome any challenges they face to establishing business relationships with Africa.
Also part of her trip to South Africa, Dr. Blank will also meet with and promote a multi-sector trade mission being led by the Department of Commerce's Under Secretary for International Trade, Francisco Sanchez. A delegation comprised of representatives from 15 U.S. firms will join Sanchez on stops in Lusaka, Zambia; and Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa.
In Kenya, Acting Secretary Blank will meet with heads of state and senior trade officials of the East African Community, a regional intergovernmental organization that includes Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi. The United States has prioritized the promotion of regional economic integration in Sub-Saharan Africa, and it recognizes that the EAC in particular as a strategic market for trade and investment with significant long-term growth potential. For that reason, the United States is pursuing a Trade and Investment Partnership initiative with the EAC under the President's Strategy, which will build on the foundations of our already-existing trade and investment relationship with the EAC. Acting Secretary Blank will promote many of the Partnership initiatives on her trip, including the launch of a new EAC-U.S. Commercial Dialogue.
Sub-Saharan Africa presents enormous opportunities to the American private sector. According to the World Bank, its GDP totaled approximately $1.25 trillion in 2011, and six of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world are in Sub-Saharan Africa. U.S. total merchandise exports to Sub-Saharan Africa tripled between 2001 and 2011.
In 2011, U.S. exports to Sub-Saharan Africa totaled $21.3 billion, while imports were $74.3 billion, an increase from $17.1 billion and $65 billion in 2010, respectively. Total trade between the U.S. and Sub-Saharan Africa increased by 16 percent between 2010 and 2011, and in the first half of 2012, U.S. goods exports to Sub-Saharan Africa are up 4.6 percent over the same period in 2011. The President's "Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa" seeks to build on this success.