President's Message - July/August 2019 Africa eJournal
By Florizelle Liser, CEO
I hope all of you had a great summer. It’s amazing how quickly it flew by, as it seems that only yesterday, we saw so many of you at the Summit in Maputo. The team at CCA has had another couple of busy months, including participating in an event in Nigeria in July to promote Prosper Africa and hosting the AGOA Private Sector Forum in Abidjan in early August. We’re already hard at work planning what will be a busy fall, including hosting a number of events in September in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.
On August 4, CCA and the Confederation Generale des Enterprises de Cote d’Ivoire (CGECI) co-hosted the AGOA Private Sector Forum. As it has in past years, the Private Sector Forum provided a great opportunity for African and American companies to talk through the most pressing issues and greatest opportunities for effectively utilizing the remaining six years of access to the U.S. market under AGOA. These observations fed directly into the official government meetings on August 5-6, 2019.
This year, private sector representatives from 19 African countries and the United States participated in a full day of panels that highlighted the enormous potential to expand trade and investment between the United States and Africa. We were delighted to have three deals announced at the Forum, including a $300 million investment by the ABD group and a new Maersk shipping service from the Ivory Coast to the United States.
African Union Commissioner of Trade and Industry, Hon. Muchanga, provided a very helpful update from the African ministers of trade meeting in Niamey in July, noting that African countries have nearly finalized agreements on rules of origin and final tariff schedules, including exempted sectors. The ministers have also agreed to set up a mechanism to report on non-tariff barriers, and to establish an African trade observatory that will be hosted in Ghana. (Congratulations to Ghana for winning a very tough competition to host this innovative and groundbreaking center, which aims to provide unprecedented transparency regarding the formulation and administration of AfCFTA trade provisions).
CCA provided a summary of the main outcomes of the Private Sector Forum to the official meetings on August 5. CCA was particularly pleased that USTR Deputy CJ Mahoney and AU Commissioner Muchanga signed a Joint Statement on August 5 concerning the development of the AfCFTA, stating that “the United States and the African Union share a common goal of enhancing the African Union’s efforts to increase continental trade and investment under the African Continental Free Trade Area.”
New U.S. Government Tools
The U.S. government continues to expand its commercial tools in a way that will help U.S.-Africa private sector engagement, with CCA continuing to play a constructive supporting role.
DFC: The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) will transition into the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) on October 1, 2019, combining the capabilities of OPIC and USAID’s Development Credit Authority to provide foreign aid through the financing of private development projects. The DFC will provide $60 billion in loans, loan guarantees and insurance to U.S. companies investing or operating in developing nations – twice it’s current level. Soon afterward, DFC leaders will participate in a trip to Africa accompanied by members of The President’s Advisory Committee on Doing Business in Africa (PAC-DBIA) to explore how DFC can support U.S. business opportunities in Africa.
EXIM: After two inactive years, the U.S. Export-Import Bank (EXIM) has revived its Sub-Saharan Africa Advisory Committee. CCA President and CEO Florie Liser will be a member of this committee. EXIM long term re-authorization will be an important tool in helping U.S. companies to do business in Africa.
Prosper Africa: On July 11, CCA co-hosted a private sector dialogue with Creative Associates International and the Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce on “Making Prosper Africa work for Nigeria” in Victoria Island, Nigeria. President and CEO Florie Liser addressed the group of 35 Nigerian business and government leaders, discussing the goals of Prosper Africa and sharing CCA’s work in promoting U.S.-Africa business ties, especially in Nigeria. In breakout sessions, participants discussed and offered recommendations related to access to finance for Nigerian farms and firms, making AGOA work for Nigeria, and scaling up, with a particular focus on the role of women and youth.
TDA Access Africa ICT launch: The US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) officially launched its Access Africa program in Maputo at the U.S.-Africa Business Summit in June. USTDA has been busy building out this program and announced its founding partners at the AGOA Forum in Abidjan on August 5. CCA is delighted to have been selected as one of these partners. Access Africa will support the development of quality Information and Communication Technology infrastructure across Sub-Saharan Africa by bringing together critical stakeholders and designing targeted programming to advance inclusive, secure, and sustainable connectivity. CCA looks forward to working closely with USTDA to target key market opportunities. In support of this endeavor, CCA will soon announce the formation of an ICT working group. Stay tuned for more information and details about how you can get involved in this exciting opportunity.
We are sad to bid farewell to Laird Treiber, who has served as the Senior Adviser to the President for the past year. Laird will return to the Africa Bureau at the State Department to support the development of Prosper Africa. In his stead, we’re pleased to welcome Scott Ticknor, who is joining us from the State Department’s Economic Bureau, where for the past two years he served as the Acting Special Representative for Commercial and Business Affairs. Scott is a member of the Senior Foreign Service with 29 years of State Department experience, including tours in Ghana, Cameroon, Djibouti and the Africa Bureau at State. Please join us in wishing Laird the best of luck in his new position, and please come by the office or call to get to know Scott. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
CCA is preparing to host or co-host a number of events on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly to highlight U.S.-Africa business opportunities and relations. These include events related to the health sector, a Nigerian Governors’ Roundtable, and a high-level panel on U.S.-Africa Trade and Investment. Also, in September, we will announce the location and dates of the next U.S.-Africa Business Forum.