May 30, 2024

Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves Highlights U.S.-Africa Economic Partnership at AGOA Private Sector Forum

United States Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves has delivered a keynote speech at the AGOA Private Sector Forum in Johannesburg, South Africa, emphasizing the importance of the U.S.-Africa economic partnership and highlighting the potential for collaboration and growth.

Graves expressed his excitement about attending the AGOA Private Sector Forum and extended his gratitude to the Corporate Council on Africa team, the Prosper Africa Secretariat, and the U.S. Mission in South Africa for their support in organizing the event.

He acknowledged the significance of the New York Times series titled “The World is Becoming More African,” emphasizing that it underscores the emergence of a new generation of Africans making significant contributions to the global economy, culture, and politics. Graves pointed out that this dynamism, innovation, and determination to improve the world benefit everyone, and he stressed the mutual desire of Americans and Africans for greater economic opportunity and prosperity.

Graves highlighted that expanding trade, investment, and commercial ties between American and African businesses, including women, the next generation, and Diaspora entrepreneurs, is pivotal to achieving this shared goal. He pointed out that economic opportunity not only leads to material prosperity but also fosters vibrant connections between communities, encourages creativity, uplifts shared values and culture, and ultimately enriches the lives of both Americans and Africans.

Graves noted the Biden-Harris Administration’s recognition of the U.S.-Africa partnership as essential for addressing global challenges like the climate crisis, food security, and democratic backsliding. He also emphasized its role in seizing opportunities in clean technology, health security, digitization, climate-smart agriculture, and creative industries. The Deputy Secretary believes that commercial ties between American and African entrepreneurs are the driving force behind this partnership, promoting supply chain resilience, job creation, and mutual growth.

Graves highlighted that African government and business leaders view U.S. businesses as preferred partners due to their advanced technology, quality of equipment and services, commitment to developing local talent, and innovative commercial financing. U.S. companies are increasingly exploring opportunities on the continent, especially as African countries make bold moves to expand trade and investment.

The Deputy Secretary emphasized that the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) has been instrumental in promoting economic growth and development since its inception in 2000. While discussing the upcoming expiration of AGOA in 2025, Graves called for reflection on its achievements and lessons learned, as well as creative thinking about its future.

Graves discussed the Commerce Department’s efforts to promote two-way commercial, trade, and investment relationships with African countries. He highlighted the launch of a Commerce-wide Africa strategy designed to foster a conducive commercial environment, promote trade and investment, and encourage innovation and upskilling. He also pointed out various initiatives and programs aimed at supporting these goals.

The Deputy Secretary emphasized that the U.S.-Africa commercial relationship is at a tipping point and has the potential to drive sustainable growth in Africa and shape a more inclusive global economy for years to come. He encouraged all participants to engage in meaningful discussions during the forum and utilize the knowledge and connections gained to contribute to future endeavors.

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