Press Release

Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Leads U.S. Delegation to Africa

For Immediate Release 
February 12, 2020
Contact: Office of Public Affairs
Phone: 202-482-3809


WASHINGTON – Last week, Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Joe Semsar led a U.S. Government delegation to Tunis, Tunisia for the first-ever Prosper Africa Business-to-Business Summit, which attracted more than 1,000 people, 50 U.S. companies, and representatives from more than 30 African countries. The U.S. Government delegation underscored the Trump administration’s commitment to our African partners through the Prosper Africa initiative, with the goal of increasing two-way trade and investment between the United States and Africa. 


“For years, companies have asked the U.S. Government to make it easier to access its trade and investment support services,” said Acting Under Secretary Semsar. “With Prosper Africa, we answer that call by providing a one-stop shop with the full range of U.S. Government services available to U.S. companies and investors, to facilitate commerce that will benefit both the United States and countries on the African continent.” 


The delegation also met with numerous Ministers from the Tunisian Government, as well as officials from the American Chamber of Commerce in Algeria, and government delegations from Djibouti and the Democratic Republic of Congo. 


Following the Prosper Africa Summit, Acting Under Secretary Semsar led the U.S.-Tunisia Joint Economic Commission with his Tunisian counterpart, Minister of Trade Omar Béhi. The two delegations discussed opportunities for increased commercial engagement in telecommunications and infrastructure, Tunisia’s desire to serve as a hub and “gateway” for U.S. companies in Africa, reforms to the Tunisia business climate that would help attract U.S. investment, and Tunisia’s macroeconomic outlook and external financing needs.


During the Joint Economic Commission, Acting Under Secretary Semsar and Minister Béhi signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on commercial cooperation. The MOU is intended to serve as an instrument to enhance bilateral efforts to attract U.S. investment in four key Tunisian sectors: information and communications technology; agribusiness; design, engineering, and construction; and renewable energy. The MOU with Tunisia marks the sixth such agreement signed as part of the Prosper Africa initiative.  Additionally, the U.S. has signed MOUs under the initiative with Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, and Mozambique. 


Other members of the U.S. delegation included U.S. Ambassador to Tunisia, Donald Blome; U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Assistant Administrator for Middle East and North Africa, Mike Harvey; USAID Acting Assistant Administrator for Africa, Christopher Maloney; U.S. Trade and Development Agency Regional Director for Sub-Saharan Africa, Heather Lanigan; U.S. Export-Import Bank Regional Director Rick Angiuoni; U.S. International Development Finance Corporation Director of Middle East and Africa Investments, Shirin Jamshidi; Millennium Challenge Corporation Deputy Country Director, Jennifer Vaughn; and Interim Prosper Africa Coordinator, Matt Rees. 



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