THE DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE’S U.S. AFRICA STRATEGY SPEECH AT TRADE AND INVESTMENT LUNCHEON LUANDA, ANGOLA
Good afternoon everyone, and thank you all for the warm welcome and for joining me here today. This is my first visit to your beautiful country, and it is truly a pleasure to be here in Angola.
Today, I would like to speak about how the U.S. Africa strategy can help to unlock the many economic opportunities we’ll discuss at greater length throughout today’s luncheon. I look forward to highlighting the many ways we can work together to promote shared prosperity and security in the United States, in Angola, and across the African continent.
As you know, the Trump Administration recently announced a new Africa Strategy to revitalize our engagement with our African partners and promote a prosperous and secure future for all Africans.
At the core of this strategy, we will actively work to expand economic opportunities; support sustainable and inclusive development; advance peace and security, including combating terrorist and other extremist groups; and promote stability, human rights, good governance, and self-reliance.
Our Africa Strategy underscores our long-standing commitment to Africa and to moving African countries away from foreign assistance, toward self-reliance and sustainable financial independence.
Recognizing the enormous economic potential on the continent, the Administration has made the expansion of trade and investment in Africa a key priority for the United States.
By 2025, we expect that nearly two-thirds of the estimated 303 million African households will have discretionary income, which makes it a “must market” for globally competitive American companies.
In 2017, the United States had $39 billion dollars in two-way trade with sub-Saharan African countries. This Administration believes we can do better.
Through “Prosper Africa,” a new Presidential Initiative, we will support U.S. investment across the continent, improve the business climate, and accelerate the growth of Africa’s middle class. We will also prioritize employment opportunities for Africa’s youth.
This past October, President Trump signed into law the BUILD Act, establishing the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, or IDFC. This initiative more than doubles the amount of capital we can use: from $29 billion to $60 billion dollars, to support private sector investment in developing countries. With the BUILD Act and the IDFC, we are well- positioned to unleash the full potential of private sector-led growth here in Africa.
Already, the United States remains the largest private foreign investor in Africa. From 2001 to 2017, our yearly investment in Africa increased from $9 billion to $50 billion dollars, creating new businesses opportunities across the continent. But even with that, we understand that we are merely scratching the surface in terms of tapping the available pool of capital the United States can invest in Africa.
Since 2000, the African Growth and Opportunity Act, or AGOA, has been at the center of U.S.-African engagement on trade and investment, offering duty-free market access to eligible African countries and incentivizing inclusive economic growth and regional stability. Angola is eligible for preferential trade benefits under AGOA, and we continue to explore how to maximize these benefits.
I cannot stress enough that the United States values our long-standing and wide-ranging cooperation with our African partners, especially strategic partners like Angola. Angola is the third-largest trading partner of the United States in sub-Saharan Africa, with bilateral trade valued at $3.5 billion dollars in 2017. American companies are among the largest foreign investors in Angola—many of them having been in Angola for decades.
I had the opportunity to meet with President Lourenço and Foreign Minister Augusto earlier this morning. Based on our conversation, I know the Lourenço Administration is committed to increasing commercial connection and cooperation.
We see great opportunity in Angola’s economic diversification policy that will bring new and diverse U.S. products and services to Angola. U.S. companies, as global leaders in many sectors, can contribute greatly to Angola’s development by providing high-quality goods and services through transparent processes. In that vein, the United States joined with other nations to vote affirmatively for the International Monetary Fund’s $3.7 billion credit line for Angola in December to support your country’s economic reforms.
However, U.S. companies do face significant trade barriers here in Angola. To remedy this, in May 2009 we signed a trade and investment framework agreement to promote greater economic cooperation between our two countries. We are pursuing negotiations to strengthen this trade relationship and reduce trade barriers to the mutual benefit of our citizens.
I am proud to say that we have made progress. We hosted two successful visits with the Department of the Treasury, during which our representatives met with Ministry of Finance, Financial Intelligence Unit and Bank of Angola representatives. Based on these meetings and the progress Angola has made, we are now able to offer a Department of Treasury Technical Advisor in 2019.
President Lourenço’s commitment to combatting corruption is a significant positive signal to foreign investors. The creation of a transparent business environment will generate even greater U.S. private sector interest in trade and investment opportunities with Angola. Likewise, parliament’s passage of the new private investment law and relaxed visa requirements will make it easier for private foreign investors to pursue opportunities in Angola.
To further expand our bilateral trade links, the Administration is focused on reaching its first bilateral free trade agreement with a Sub-Saharan African country.
Apart from trade, President Lourenço and I talked about several pressing matters of international peace and security during our meeting this morning.
Chief among U.S. concerns is the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Venezuela. On this, our message is clear: Angola has a place next to Brazil, Portugal, and over 50 other countries who have recognized Guiado as the interim President of Venezuela—we hope your government will join us in supporting democracy in Venezuela. Democratic countries everywhere should stand up for democratic governments anywhere.
With respect to the continent, our foreign policy is based on the philosophy that ultimately Africans must be responsible for solving African problems. The second element of our Africa strategy emphasizes African ownership of responses to regional threats to peace and security.
Security institutions must be effective, accountable, and capable for African governments to own their responses to regional threats to peace and security. That is why we have provided peacekeeper training and equipment to over 20 African countries. We are encouraged by Angola’s deployment in regional peacekeeping efforts in Lesotho; and by Angola’s leadership in encouraging the Democratic Republic of the Congo in its first-ever political transition of power.
We value Angola as a security partner, and have worked with Angolan and regional maritime forces in combatting piracy, oil bunkering, and illegal fishing. Our partnership has resulted in increased sub-regional and international cooperation to strengthen maritime security, which includes the security teams of many of the oil companies represented here.
In fact, a multinational maritime security exercise, Operation Obangame Express, is taking place right now off the coast of Angola. Moreover, Angola has demonstrated increasing leadership in maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea Commission, helping to pave the way for greater economic independence and increased legitimate trade to and from the continent.
Angolan military officers have also attended U.S. military institutions and participated in AFRICOM-led military training exercises, focused on maritime security, peacekeeping, and medical readiness. This exposure introduces foreign defense personnel to U.S. military training, doctrine, and values. It also helps to build the capacity of local security forces to counter national and transnational threats, while strengthening the rule of law and security services’ accountability and performance.
Prosperity, security, and stability require strong and accountable democratic institutions. That is why the third core element of our Africa strategy emphasizes self-reliance, good governance, and respect for human rights. Ultimately, we want to end the need for foreign assistance, for the benefit of all. I believe we share the goal of achieving substantial, measurable progress in economic growth; advancement of good governance; creation of a level playing field for U.S. and other international investors; and strong rule of law.
While there is no magic formula for maximizing a nation’s overall development, expanding opportunities for education and training of youth populations is one of the most critical ingredients. Several years ago, we created the Young African Leaders Initiative, or YALI, to provide this new generation with the leadership and entrepreneurial skills needed to lead their countries into a brighter future.
These young leaders, including more than 100 in Angola, are making a great impact by creating jobs and developing innovative products and services. They are stepping into leadership positions in their communities and governments. By increasing employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for Africa’s youth, economic ingenuity and prosperity will flourish, ultimately serving as a counter weight to violent extremism, poverty, and despair.
With so many opportunities at Angola’s front door, it is important that adequate conditions are met to create a healthy workforce. We know that many of you in this room understand this urgency because you have personally worked to improve health outcomes for Angola.
With the support of the Association of Oil and Gas Exploration and Production Companies, USAID mobilized $1.2 million dollars to build a hospital to benefit Angolans affected by floods in 2015 in the Port City of Lobito, Benguela Province. Construction ended in 2018, and the Benguela provincial government has equipped the hospital in anticipation of its inauguration in March.
From 2010-2017, ExxonMobil donated $500,000 annually to support the prevention and control of malaria, and we are now working with Chevron to expand outreach to Angola’s populations at highest risk for HIV/AIDS.
The United States wants to encourage African leaders to choose sustainable foreign investments that help their countries to become self-reliant, unlike those investments offered by China that impose undue costs.
We ask countries to consider how their relationship with China aligns with their ambitions for sustainable development. Under the Africa Strategy, the United States will expand economic ties on the basis of mutual respect, and we will help African nations take control of their economic destinies.
We encourage Angola and other African countries to choose high-quality, transparent, inclusive, and sustainable foreign investment, not predatory investment and development initiatives that raise debt to unsustainable levels. These loans can impose unnecessary burdens on recipients that jeopardize their sovereignty.
Just as we encourage countries to consider the implications of partnership with China and how it aligns with your own sustainability and prosperity goals, we do the same with regard to Russia. Russia often utilizes coercive, corrupt, and covert means to attempt to influence sovereign states, including through their security and economic partnerships.
Angola has ties to Russia bound in its history. But as it builds a business-friendly, more open and democratic country, it should look to countries that are better models of transparency and economic sustainability.
The bottom line is this: the United States has an unwavering commitment to Angola and countries across Africa. No other nation matches the breadth and depth of United States’ engagement on the continent, from health and education, to supporting women and youth, engaging civil society, and bringing electricity and water to millions of people across the continent.
Africa is the dynamic continent of the future, and Angola has proven itself an example for other African nations to follow.
An old African proverb instructs us that we cannot play the drum with just one hand. Let us continue to work together, like two hands playing a drum, to promote shared American and Angolan prosperity and security.
Thank you again for the honor and privilege of speaking to you today, and I look forward to our continued engagement with Angola and throughout Africa.