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Acting Under Secretary for International Trade Joseph Semsar Remarks – February 6, 2020

Prosper Africa Panel On USG Toolkit 

Tunis, Tunisia

Thursday, February 6, 2020 


As Prepared For Delivery


Thank you, Assistant Administrator Harvey.  And let me start by saying we are proud to co-lead the Prosper Africa initiative with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). I’ll start by illustrating the work being done by the U.S. International Trade Administration at the Department of Commerce. 


The U.S. Department of Commerce, led by Secretary of Wilbur Ross, is uniquely focused on expanding trade and investment relationships between the U.S. and Africa. 


The Department has 12 Offices, 16 Foreign Commercial Service Officers and 50 Locally Engaged Staff on the Continent. These on-continent officials work with our 100 Export Assistance Centers across the U.S. to connect African commercial opportunities with American businesses. 


Between our international and domestic offices, we also work with the rest of the USG trade-and-investment oriented agencies to support US businesses in their pursuit of African commercial opportunities. We call this inter-agency work our Deal Teams initiative. 


Our Deal Teams draw on the knowledge, skills, and expertise of the wide range of U.S. government agencies represented at our Embassies overseas to identify investment and business opportunities for U.S. companies. Deal Teams aim to do everything possible to support U.S. business in a systematic way with “one voice” that draws from the rich diversity of U.S. agencies and expertise. 


One example of where our Deal Team approach worked incredibly well was the Anadarko deal in Maputo, Mozambique. The Department of Commerce supported major elements of this cumulative $30 billion-dollar offshore LNG investment, successfully working with our interagency to deliver the largest investment ever on the continent of Africa. The Anadarko deal will drive growth and job creation in Mozambique, other African countries, and in the United States. I believe Prosper Africa is a platform for catalyzing more deals like this one. 


Another USG initiative that Commerce proudly leads is the President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa. 

This is a Presidential advisory group of CEOs from companies like GE, UPS, VISA, Bechtel, Mastercard, and many others that are currently doing business in Africa and advising on ways we can increase trade and investment on the continent. Over the next two years, the third term of the PAC-DBIA will have a special focus on advancing the goals of the Prosper Africa initiative.


In addition to Commerce, the rest of the U.S. Government is also focused on stronger trade and investment in Africa. 


The Millennium Challenge Modernization Act provided the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) increased flexibility for entering into one additional, concurrent compact with a country specifically to promote regional economic integration, increased regional trade, and cross-border collaborations. 


Tunisia has taken advantage of this program with a compact focusing on ports and water. By making coordinated investments across countries, MCC will aim to expand regional markets, increase trade, and reduce poverty through economic growth.


In support of Prosper Africa’s goals, the United States Agency on International Development’s Power Africa partnerships will continue to expand energy access in sub-Saharan Africa, through 60 million new electricity connections and 30,000 megawatts of new power generation, with a renewed emphasis on opening market opportunities for U.S. businesses to partner with African providers in this sector.


As mentioned this morning, in December 2019 the Trump Administration reauthorized the ExImBank for the longest period ever, seven years. From a tactical practical level, a reauthorized ExIm Bank, means more financing to catalyze economic growth, more capacity building, and an enhanced infrastructure across Africa. EXIM has already supported over $8 billion dollars of transactions in sub-Saharan Africa with a current pipeline of potential transactions valued at $13 billion dollars.


Our U.S. Trade and Development Agency investments in sub-Saharan Africa more than tripled over the past four years and continue to grow in response to interest from African governments and private sector partners. USTDA is currently supporting 90 active projects in sub-Saharan Africa for the development of sustainable infrastructure in partner countries. 


These are just a small sampling of the many USG tools offered to facilitate trade and investment on the African continent. Prosper Africa is working to synchronize these tools. But we need the help of your countries to do two things – elevate potential projects for U.S. industry engagement; and work to foster a business environment conducive to attracting U.S. industry. 


Thank you for your interest in increasing trade and investment with the United States. There is much potential and it is up to all of us to capitalize on that opportunity.