U.S. Consul General France Chisholm and Political-Economic Officer Suzanne Yountchi addressed the African Economic Expansion Summit (AEES) at Durban’s International Conference Center on November 11, 2014.
The U.S.-based Rainbow Push Initiative and the South African and KwaZulu-Natal governments sponsored the summit, whose goal was to stimulate economic growth and infrastructure development by encouraging investment across a range of sectors. Attendees included dignitaries representing KwaZulu-Natal’s provincial and municipal authorities, as well as a number of companies from the United States, Africa, and beyond.
CG Chisholm spoke at a plenary session and participated in a panel discussion on “Building Africa’s Industrialists.” She emphasized the evolving nature of U.S.-Africa partnerships, as illustrated by the U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit hosted by President Obama in August. She noted that “The theme of the Leaders’ Summit – Investing in Africa’s Future – emphasized that America is ready to do business in this part of the world. Working together, we can realize the promise of this revitalized relationship by promoting economic opportunity, by encouraging democratic reforms, by promoting regional security, by nurturing the next generation of entrepreneurs, and by giving women the social and economic space to reach their full potential.”
CG Chisholm highlighted several American initiatives aimed at stimulating economic growth across Africa and increasing bilateral trade, such as Power Africa (including over 3 trillion Rand in annual U.S. assistance to expand power generation and access to electricity continent-wide) an the Doing Business in Africa (DBIA) campaign (which entails more than 70 billion Rand in new financing to promote U.S. exports to and investments in Africa.
She also stressed the importance of a strategic approach to ensure that South Africa continues to benefit from the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA). “Perhaps the clearest lesson learned from AGOA over the past 14 years is that market access – while important for expanding trade and development – simply isn’t enough. The countries that have best benefitted from AGOA have combined AGOA with comprehensive trade and investment strategies.”
During a later panel discussion, Political-Economic Officer Suzanne Yountchi explained the U.S. Trade Development Administration’s (USTDA’s) capacity and willingness to support U.S. trade, investment, and development of infrastructure in South Africa and on the Continent.
Throughout the day and in subsequent media engagements, CG Chisholm reinforced the message that “The Leaders’ Summit in Washington, and this summit in Durban, are part of an ongoing dialogue, a chance to fully realize the promise of the U.S.-Africa partnership. It’s a big moment for the United States and Africa, and dramatic transformations are possible.”