Obama Starts Trade Program with Africa

Politic365 | 11/30/2012, 3:22 p.m.

While Republicans in Congress continue to focus on an insular event that occurred in one day in Benghazi, President Obama's acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank was down in South Africa announcing the launch of a new campaign for more trade and opportunity in Sub-Saharan African nations.

Earlier this year, President Obama, a son of an African himself, pledged to do more to support Africa through his U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa campaign. The effort is focused on strengthening democratic institutions and processes, encouraging economic grown, trade and investment, advancing peace and security, and promoting opportunity and development.

At an event in Johannesburg South Africa, Secretary Blank launched the "Doing Business in Africa" campaign, to advance one of those four prongs of Obama's US-Africa strategy. The campaign is an effort to help US businesses take advantage of export and investment opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa.

"Sub-Saharan Africa is home to 6 of the 10 fastest growing markets in the world," Blank said in her address to attendees. "Economic growth in this region is predicted to be strong - between 5 and 6 percent - in coming years. And - most importantly - millions of Africans are finding a path from poverty to greater security, opportunity, and prosperity."

She said the US is committed to improving the paltry 2.6% of US Trade business that is done with sub-Sahara African nations.

"More than ever before, American businesses and consumers are buying African products such as flowers, fruits, nuts, cocoa, footwear, and wine," she added.

In the audience was an African woman, who is a beneficiary of the African Growth and Opportunity Act, a campaign to support the flow of African goods made by micro businesses. Angela provides goods to Walmart.

Blank also read a statement from Obama summarizing the project which includes, training US business leaders and counselors and educating them and the business communities on opportunities in Africa; and organizing visits and trade exchanges for the purposes of sharing knowledge and success models.

With her at the event were leaders from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the U.S. Export-Import Bank, and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency. Each agency had invested $2billion, $1.4 billion and $1billion in financing, transactions and export partnerships, respectively with African project sponsors.

Lastly, since a big part of Obama's presidential campaign has focused on clean energy, it ties in well with a new initiative to open a center in Johannesburg, housed out of the US Consulate offices, to implement clean energy projects.

The Center will provide technical and financial support for projects related to solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, hydro, ocean and natural gas production.