Global Economic Statecraft Day
June 14, 2012 | 9:15 AM
Remarks by U.S. Ambassador Robert P. Jackson
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good morning and thank you for joining us today.
Today, the United States Mission in Cameroon joins other missions around the world to highlight Global Economic Statecraft Day. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton created this unique global event to highlight America’s commitment to put economics at the center of our foreign policy and to use diplomacy to advance America’s economic renewal.
Simultaneously, the United States - Sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum (the AGOA Forum) opens in Washington today. This year’s theme is “Enhancing Africa’s Infrastructure for Trade.” The AGOA Forum will be followed by the Corporate Council on Africa’s Infrastructure Conference in Washington, June 18 through 20, and the U.S.-Africa Business Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio, June 21 and 22, focusing on energy, transportation, water, and sanitation. Site visits and efforts to facilitate contacts between U.S. and African businesses during the Cincinnati program respond to African requests for broader and deeper interaction with the U.S. private sector to expand trade and investment linkages.
Forty Sub-Saharan African countries meet AGOA’s eligibility criteria, including Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, and Niger, which were just reinstated this year. Most have sent ministerial level delegations to the AGOA Forum and related events. We are pleased that Cameroon is sending a robust delegation to the 2012 AGOA Forum, including the Ministers of Commerce and External Relations. Cameroon’s private sector delegation of ten prominent business leaders is also an exciting addition. When AGOA was enacted in 2000, it included provisions requiring an annual review of sub-Saharan African countries against a set of eligibility criteria. In many ways, these criteria reflect what might be called “best practices” with respect to opening markets, implementing economic reforms, establishing rule of law, reducing poverty, and strengthening labor and human rights. The criteria are similar to the 18 criteria used to determine eligibility for the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA). While it is very important that Cameroon strive to take full advantage of AGOA trade, it is equally important that Cameroon improves in these areas so that it may continue its record of eligibility for AGOA and we hope one day for MCA.
AGOA Is a Success
Since AGOA was passed in 2000, African exports to the U.S. -- not including oil exports -- have quadrupled. We see trade as a crucial component of Africa’s development, which is why President Obama supports and is working with Congress towards a seamless renewal of AGOA before 2015. In 2011, the 40 AGOA-eligible countries exported $53.7 billion in products to the United States duty free under AGOA and its Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) provisions. In 2011 non-oil AGOA trade was valued at $5 billion, a 22 percent increase over the prior year.
AGOA has also promoted U.S. exports to sub-Saharan Africa: in 2011, U.S. exports to sub-Saharan Africa totaled $21.1 billion, up 23 percent compared to 2010. President Obama’s National Export Initiative set a goal of doubling U.S. exports worldwide, and this embassy and others will be working to support the initiative and to make U.S. products available to global consumers.
Trade between the U.S. and Cameroon, like the rest of Africa, is on the rise, thanks in large part to AGOA. Last year, overall bilateral trade increased 26 percent to $538 million (269 billion CFA francs). It is noteworthy that Cameroonian AGOA exports to the United States rose 21 percent from 2010 to 2011 to reach $173 million (86.5 billion CFA francs). During the same period, U.S. exports to Cameroon rose by 66 percent to $216 million (108 billion CFA francs).
Global Economic Statecraft Day in Cameroon
Global Economic Statecraft Day in Cameroon is designed to help you take advantage of AGOA. We have an expert from the West Africa Trade Hub’s Enhanced AGOA Resource Center (EARC) in Douala, experienced exporters, Peace Corps volunteers working with small businesses, and USAID’s resident Program Management Specialist, who will speak on the private-public African Cocoa Initiative. America is open for business. We are doing everything we can to connect U.S. businesses to opportunities in Cameroon and to connect Cameroonian businesses to opportunities in the U.S. The United States is making it a diplomatic priority to level the playing field by promoting an open, free, transparent and fair economic system around the world.
Corruption, failure to adequately protect intellectual property, slow decision-making and approvals, and lack of export finance create barriers to trade. The United States has an Export-Import Bank that strives to compete with its counterparts around the world by guaranteeing U.S. exports; Cameroon would do well to marshal the resources to similarly support its exporters.
Today marks the next step in an effort to focus attention on economic statecraft and economic revival. The United States is bringing economics to the forefront of our foreign policy, and we urge other nations to do so as well. The U.S. Embassy will continue to highlight economic issues in its daily interactions and ongoing relationships with Cameroon and its citizens, ensuring that every day our work reflects the importance of economics in our foreign policy.
Thank you for your attention.