Remarks by Under Secretary Lago - February 9, 2023

Lusaka, Zambia
February 9, 2023

As Prepared for Delivery

Mr. President, thank you for receiving me so warmly in State House today.  I am delighted to be back in Zambia in my role as the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Under Secretary for International Trade. 

To start, thank you for travelling to Washington, DC this past December and for your leadership in the U.S.-Africa Business Forum, which was co-hosted by the U.S. Department of Commerce. The key objective of my visit to Zambia is to follow up on your discussions with U.S. Secretary of Commerce Raimondo and other senior U.S. officials regarding our mutual desire to increase two-way trade between the United States and Zambia.

I look forward to meeting with you and members of your government, as well as private sector stakeholders, to discuss how we can follow through on these aspirations and embark on the next stage of our bilateral commercial relationship.  I am especially interested in exploring the potential for a U.S.-Zambia Commercial Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which will focus and guide our mutual efforts to identify commercial opportunities.  My hope is that through this Commercial MOU, we will spur meaningful reforms, increase investor awareness and leverage our shared interests into closer business linkages between our countries—creating jobs, driving inclusive economic growth and positioning the Zambian and American people to prosper today and in the future. The Department of Commerce maintains such MOUs with only a handful of other African countries, and we are excited about the potential to forge and implement such an agreement here in Zambia.

As Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade, engaging with private sector leaders is essential to understanding how best the Department of Commerce can support U.S. businesses and workers in global markets. I can tell you that there is great interest among American companies in doing business in Zambia, as we saw last October at the U.S.-Zambia Business Summit that the Department of Commerce hosted here in Lusaka.  My visit will provide the Department of Commerce with specific and direct insights into the many economic opportunities in Zambia, allowing us to highlight these to American businesses.  My visit also provides the opportunity to discuss with the Zambian government and regulatory bodies the critical importance of the business enabling environment to attracting business from American firms.  On that note, I commend the investigation into the Ministry of Finance that was announced last night by the Anti-Corruption Commission. U.S. companies will be further encouraged by this demonstration of your Administration’s commitment to the rule of law in Zambia’s government institutions.

I look forward to building on this interest and capitalizing on the momentum provided by the U.S.-Africa Business Forum to strengthen our ties with your government as we seek to expand our bilateral trade for our mutual economic prosperity.