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This week, President Obama and newly confirmed U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman are traveling in Sub-Saharan Africa. The visit is part of an Obama Administration directive to spur economic growth, trade, and investment in the region, adding to increased jobs and prosperity for both Africa and the United States. The President launched the visit in Senegal on Wednesday, and Ambassador Froman will join him for stops in South Africa and Tanzania. This is President Obama’s second official trip to Africa and Ambassador Froman’s first as the U.S. Trade Representative.
The visit to Africa, home to six of the world’s ten fastest growing economies in the past decade, demonstrates the United States’ commitment to developing the region’s tremendous economic potential through trade and investment. Ambassador Froman will meet the delegation in Johannesburg, South Africa, where he will join senior Administration officials in a high-level dialogue with African banking and finance leaders for a discussion on mobilizing capital and improving the bilateral investment climate across the continent. Ambassador Froman will then travel with the President to Tanzania, where the President will outline the Administration’s comprehensive strategy to promote trade and investment between Africa and the United States, and launch a new initiative that will initially focus on the East African Community (EAC).
Among the policy tools in place to enhance U.S.-Africa two-way trade and investment are the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), Trade and Investment Framework Agreements (TIFAs) with key national and regional partners, bilateral investment treaties (BITs), support for U.S. and African businesses in identifying and seizing opportunities in Sub-Saharan Africa, including the Commerce Department’s Doing Business in Africa campaign. The United States also provides trade capacity building assistance to the Africans to improve their trade competitiveness and grow intra-African and global trade, including exports to the United States under AGOA. Of these initiatives, AGOA, which provides duty-free access to the U.S. market for the vast majority of products African countries produce, serves as the centerpiece, and during the visit, the Administration will reiterate a sustained commitment to working with Congress on the renewal of the policy beyond 2015. Currently, the initiative provides thirty-nine Sub-Saharan countries with enhanced access to U.S. consumers, and its extension will offer increased certainty to U.S. and African investors seeking to do business on both continents.
With trade between Africa and the United States on the rise, it is clear that investing in economic development can open promising new markets for Made-in-America goods and services. In 2012, total two-way trade between the United States and Sub-Saharan Africa was valued at $72.3 billion. U.S. goods exports to Sub-Saharan Africa were up $1.5 billion, or 7.1 percent, from 2011, and up a notable 277 percent from 2002. The top U.S. export categories in 2012 were: machinery ($4.4 billion), motor vehicles ($3.9 billion), aircraft ($2.1 billion), mineral fuel (oil) ($2.0 billion), and cereals (wheat and rice) ($1.4 billion). African exports to the U.S. totaled $49.7 billion in 2012, and non-oil exports under AGOA have more than tripled since enactment of AGOA in 2001.