27 November 2012

Zambia: U.S. Commerce's Sánchez On U.S.-Zambia Trade

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U.S. Department of Commerce, Francisco Sánchez, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade, at the American Chamber of Commerce in Zambia, Monday, November 26, 2012, Lusaka, Zambia

As prepared for delivery

Thank you very much for that kind introduction. I'd also like to thank the entire American Chamber of Commerce in Zambia. Your work on initiatives from your "Doing Business with America" events, to your support of young Zambian entrepreneurs, is going a long way in strengthening our economic ties.

Clearly, although the AmCham has only been around for a short time, it's making a big impact. And it's sure to make an even greater impact in the years ahead.

Please allow me to also thank today's sponsors, as well as all those who helped organize this event. This is an important gathering because it gives us the opportunity to celebrate how far the U.S.-Zambian relationship has come, and identify ways we can build on this progress for the future.

Both the U.S. government and business community view this as important work. As all of you know, recent years have brought great economic pain to communities and businesses around the world.

Obviously, the U.S. has faced its share of challenges. When President Obama took office in 2009, the U.S. was in the midst of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. The U.S. was losing roughly 800,000 jobs a month, which is why jobs and growth have been the President's top priorities.

So he has taken bold action to turn our economy from ruin to recovery. At the heart of his agenda has been linking American businesses with the tremendous opportunities overseas. He fully realizes that in the 21st century global economy -- in order to be competitive --American firms have to be able to reach the 95 percent of consumers who live outside America's borders.

That's why he launched the National Export Initiative in 2010 with the goal of doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014. And we've made tremendous progress. Last year, U.S. exports reached $2.1 trillion in total value -- an all-time record.

And obviously that's important for the American economy because whenever a business makes a sale abroad, it means revenue is coming back home. And that can be used to expand a business or hire workers, so it's good news for the American people.

It's also good for our partners. We are proud that U.S. products and services are helping to meet needs and fuel economic development across the world. Bottom line: these international commercial relationships are win-win partnerships.

So that's why all of us in the Administration are so focused on deepening economic ties with our international friends. And in looking at the global landscape, it's clear: Africa is a market full of enormous potential.

Just look at Zambia. In this country, there have been 12 straight years of economic growth. It's home to a number of innovative entrepreneurs. There's been some tremendous commercial and retail development. And it's got a growing middle class who are increasingly demanding quality products.

So it makes both business sense and common sense for the U.S. and Zambia to work together and make the most of this promise. That's why I'm here today. I am proud to be leading a trade mission of 13 U.S. businesses. They specialize in fields ranging from infrastructure, to water, to energy efficiency.

And our message is clear. We want to do business here. We want to help the people of Zambia meet their ambitions and goals. In turn, this work will benefit the American economy.

That's why the progress we've made over the years is so important. Since the African Growth and Opportunity Act passed in 2000, the U.S.-African trade relationship has transformed.

Case in point: our trade with this particular region in recent years. Total trade between the U.S. and Sub-Saharan Africa increased by 16 percent between 2010 and 2011. Zambia was a key to this growth, with bilateral trade doubling during this same time period. And it's important that we deepen our engagement to keep the momentum going.

To help achieve this goal, this past June, President Obama issued a new strategy toward Sub-Saharan Africa.

There are four goals for this effort:

  • strengthening democratic institutions;
  • spurring economic growth, trade and investment;
  • advancing peace and security;
  • and promoting opportunity and development.

This effort is being done because -- as President Obama has said:

  • America believes in Africa as a region of growing opportunity and promise.
  • We believe that Africa can be the world's next major economic success story.
  • And we want to work with our African partners to support the region's economic expansion, while helping to create jobs in America.

To help accomplish these goals -- Acting Commerce Secretary, Rebecca Blank, will be traveling to this region later this week to officially launch the "Doing Business in Africa" campaign.

This campaign will help American businesses navigate through an often complicated process -- and increase their presence here. It will do this by leveraging the federal government's trade promotion, financing and strategic communications capabilities.

Obviously, the trade mission I am currently leading is aligned with the trade promotion component. And during our time here in Zambia, we're meeting with various officials and groups.

We are asking questions, trying to learn more about this dynamic market. We are applauding the work done here to co-host the 2011 AGOA Forum. And we are expressing how pleased we are that the U.S.-Zambia relationship is strong and growing.

We are also urging our friends here to continue to take steps that make the local climate more attractive for businesses.

This means:

  • a continued commitment to good governance;
  • lowering trade barriers;
  • reducing the cost of doing business;
  • strengthening infrastructure;
  • and fighting forcefully against corruption.

I know that this AmCham will continue to play an important role in addressing these challenges.

And certainly, all of us in the U.S. are committed to supporting in any way we can. That's been the history of our relationship: cooperation.

For nearly 50 decades, the U.S. and Zambia have partnered together to build a more prosperous nation here. U.S. Government agencies -- ranging from USAID to the Peace Corps -- are proud to have helped Zambia realize its goal of attaining middle incomes status by 2030.

And I know we'll continue to do even greater things, together, in the future. I want to reemphasize our commitment to Zambia, and Africa as a whole. We recognize that this partnership is good for all sides. We also recognize that there is a great deal of potential in this partnership that has yet to be tapped.

That's why we need to keep taking bold action. Through efforts like the President's strategy toward Sub-Saharan Africa, our trade mission, and the Doing Business in Africa campaign -- we are taking action.

And we'll continue to do so, working in partnership with all of you, and the people of Zambia.

As President Obama said in videotaped remarks for an AGOA Forum a few years ago: "I do not see the countries and the peoples of Africa as a world apart. I see Africa as a fundamental part of our interconnected world. And in our global economy, our economic fortunes are shared."

And I look forward to working with all of you to ensure that this shared future lives up to our greatest hopes and ideals. Once again, my thanks to the American Chamber of Commerce in Zambia for the opportunity to share some thoughts today.

Enjoy the rest of the program.

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