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 You are in: Under Secretary for Political Affairs > Bureau of African Affairs > Releases > Remarks > 2006: African Affairs Remarks

The Bush Administration's Agenda for Africa in 2006

Jendayi E. Frazer, Assistant Secretary for African Affairs
Remarks to the AGOA 3 Action Committee Meeting
Washington, DC
January 10, 2006

Good morning, and thank you Rosa [Whitaker], for that kind introduction. It’s a pleasure to be here with the AGOA 3 Action Committee to discuss the Bush Administration’s agenda for Africa.

We are living through a period of remarkable change and opportunity. For those of us who have worked on Africa for some time, we can also be proud that we’ve found a champion in President George W. Bush.

This President has made it his priority to improve the quality and closeness of the U.S. relationship with sub-Saharan Africa. He has put more money into existing programs and new projects to help Africans effect changes on their continent that will improve the quality of life for everyone.

Africa has a vision for itself that is mirrored in President Bush’s vision for the continent, and that is an international system that promotes freedom, peace, and prosperity.

Today, I’d like to touch on three points that support that thematic agenda. First and foremost, economic freedom is intrinsically linked to personal and political freedom. Second, the best way to increase the continent’s prosperity is through increased trade. Third, various agencies within the U.S. are working to support the President’s vision of a safer, freer African continent.

Freedom Defined

In the President’s second inaugural address he spoke about the importance of political liberty. Free trade – and economic liberty – is the other side of that same coin.

President Bush’s economic policies are part and parcel with his Administration’s diplomatic efforts. The President believes in offering people hope – not only through the ballot box, but also through economic opportunity.

On that note, the President believes that free trade is the way forward – on both national and personal levels. For nations to prosper in our increasingly globalized world, every state must open its borders and reach out to trade goods and services with neighbors near and far.

For individuals to be employed in this era, it makes sense to look abroad, especially since trade-related jobs typically pay better than comparable jobs in other sectors. Civil society is strengthened when able-bodied adults can find work and support their families.

Trade Key to Prosperity 

Free trade brings nations closer, and it also moves all involved countries toward a world that is safer, freer, and better – as well as more stable and prosperous.

The U.S. Government codified its intention to form a closer relationship with the nations of Africa, when Congress passed AGOA in 2000. The Act has since been expanded twice – both in 2002 and 2004. AGOA provides tangible benefits to Sub-Saharan countries that make efforts to open their political and economic systems and build free markets.

AGOA is the centerpiece of U.S. trade policy with sub-Saharan Africa, extending duty-free and quota-free access to the U.S. market for 98 percent of the categories of goods produced in eligible countries. Thirty-seven countries are currently eligible to participate in AGOA, and 24 of those are also eligible for special least-developed-country benefits for apparel exports.

To be eligible for AGOA, countries must demonstrate continual progress toward establishing the institutions necessary to support a market-based economy, such as: the elimination of barriers to trade and investment, economic policies aimed at poverty reduction, a system to combat corruption, and the protection of internationally recognized human rights, including worker rights.

Since 2000, AGOA has helped to transform the economic landscape of sub-Saharan Africa by stimulating new trading opportunities for U.S. and African businesses, creating new jobs in participating nations, and attracting millions of dollars in new investments in the region.

Two-way trade between the U.S. and sub-Saharan Africa increased in 2004, as both exports and imports increased. That two-way trade increased 37 percent from a year earlier to $44.4 billion. The U.S. has imported growing quantities of oil, but increased imports also included: woven and knit apparel, platinum, and diamonds.

In 2004, AGOA imports exceeded $26 billion, up 88 percent over 2003, largely due to an increase in oil exports. Trade with top oil producers has grown noticeably. Trade with Nigeria has increased 56 percent. Trade with the Republic of the Congo grew 98 percent. The U.S. is also importing from Chad now that the Chad-Cameroon oil pipeline is operational.

• Over 98 percent of U.S. imports from AGOA eligible countries in 2004 entered the U.S. market duty-free. Meanwhile, U.S. non-oil imports from AGOA beneficiaries grew by more than 22 percent during 2004.

The U.S. is the world’s number one contributor of trade capacity building assistance, having provided $181 million in such assistance to sub-Saharan Africa in FY2004, up 36 percent from the U.S. contribution in FY03. AGOA promotes the use of technical assistance to strengthen economic reforms and development, including assistance to strengthen relations between U.S. firms and firms in sub-Saharan nations.

Other Agencies

Of course, AGOA is part of a much larger approach to supporting African development. The U.S. AID has been providing additional assistance through a number of new programs, including the African Global Competitiveness Initiative and the Presidential Trade for African Development and Enterprise Initiative, both of which directly build trade capacity.

The Millennium Challenge Corporation and Millennium Challenge Accounts are aimed more broadly at economic development, but also support efforts to build strong trade capacity.

The participants in these various programs convened last summer. The fourth U.S.-sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum took place in Dakar, Senegal, last July 18-20. This event brought together senior Administration officials from the United States, as well as ministers from the 37 AGOA nations’ governments.

It was at this event that President Bush announced the African Global Competitiveness Initiative to build sub-Saharan Africa’s capacity for trade and competitiveness. Secretary Rice added that the AGCI will provide $200 million of additional resources over five years. The AGCI aims to expand African trade with the U.S. under AGOA, with other international trading partners and regionally within Africa, as well as promote export competitiveness in sub-Saharan countries.

A special report came out, also last July – following up on the AGOA Acceleration Act of 2004 – that identified potentially competitive exports from each of the 37 countries, described existing barriers that are impeding growth, and offered recommendations for reducing or eliminating those barriers.

Now that AGOA has entered into force, the International Trade Administration (ITA) staff is in a position to work on the day-to-day details. ITA staff will ensure that individual producers are not dumping goods at artificially low prices on U.S. shores, that AGOA markets are open to U.S. businesses, and that any U.S. company that might want to export to nations participating in the AGOA agreement can find the necessary information and support.

• Meanwhile, the team at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) has identified several areas that have the greatest potential for production and export expansion, among AGOA nations. Those economic sectors are: floriculture, forestry, high value-added horticulture, agro-processing (for cocoa, coffee, seafood), minerals and metals, energy-related products, fisheries, light manufacturing, services (including tourism and transportation).

Additionally, USTR has been working to negotiate a free trade agreement (FTA) with the South African Customs Union, which would involve: Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho, Swaziland, and South Africa. This agreement would be the first-ever U.S. FTA with nations in sub-Saharan Africa. USTR’s goal is to negotiate a comprehensive agreement that would cover all trade-related issues, including: intellectual property rights, government procurement, investment, the environment, and labor.

As a member of President Bush’s team, I can tell you that my daily actions are guided by his instruction to make the world freer, safer, and better. I can also tell you that there is much to take pride in, when those of us who care about Africa look back over the last five years. This President has done great things to help improve the economic picture on the continent, and that will touch the lives of all African people. Each of us is playing a role, and I am proud to be here as a representative of that team.

Thank you again for inviting me to speak with you today, and I will be pleased to take any questions. 



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