Remarks at the Signing of the Open Skies AgreementJendayi Frazer, Assistant Secretary for African Affairs
February 16, 2006
Thank you for that kind introduction. Minister Esso, Minister Dakole, Mr. Ambassador, distinguished guests – it is a great pleasure to be here today representing the United States, as we prepare to sign an important agreement between Cameroon and the U.S.
The U.S. values our relationship with Cameroon. We have worked with the Cameroonian leadership on a number of issues that are of mutual concern, including: enhancing democracy, promoting regional stability, and countering terrorism.
Our multi-faceted relationship with Cameroon is also economic and trade-oriented. Cameroon is one of the 37 African nations that participate in the African Growth and Opportunity Act, our trade program meant to encourage more trade between U.S. and the nations of Africa.
And today, as part of our growing bilateral relationship, we are delighted to be signing this Open Skies Agreement with the government of Cameroon. Cameroon is now the 75th country that has negotiated an Open Skies Agreement with the United States; it is the 16th signatory in sub-Saharan Africa.
Although there are no direct flights between the United States and Cameroon at present, this Agreement provides a sound, free market framework for our international aviation relationship. Once in place, an Open Skies Agreement liberalizes international aviation markets and minimizes government intervention to facilitate growth and competition in the aviation field.
With the Open Skies Agreement there are no restrictions set for international route rights, the number of designated airlines, or the types of aircrafts that are used. Carriers can choose to operate under the charter regulations of either country. From the outset, provisions are in place to ensure that disputes are settled fairly and expeditiously.
These agreements provide multiple benefits for the citizens of all participating countries. Open Skies expands economic opportunities, while ensuring the implementation of the highest standards of international aviation safety and security.
We are confident that Cameroon will be ready when direct flights between our two countries do begin, because Cameroon is already an active participant in another aviation initiative called Safe Skies for Africa program. This means that the people of Cameroon are quickly gaining the technical skills necessary to ensure safe and secure flights between our two countries.
This agreement will bring our two nations closer, as we increase contact, build mutual goodwill, and improve aviation security with the concrete actions detailed in today’s Agreement.