Senior U.S. Commerce Official Discusses New Trade and Investment Partnership, Women in Business, and Digital Economy with South African Business and Government Leaders
U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Middle East and Africa, Global Markets, Camille Richardson, is spending three days “virtually visiting” and connecting with South African business leaders, U.S. companies in South Africa, and counterparts from the Department of Trade and Industry as part of the continuing U.S. government effort to expand trade and investment between the United States and South Africa, for the mutual benefit of both countries. The virtual visit model is proving invaluable as U.S. Department of Commerce officials continue bilateral engagement efforts to strengthen relationships despite travel slowdowns.
Deputy Assistant Secretary Richardson’s visit builds on the recent launch of the Trade and Investment Promotion Partnership between the Western Cape and the U.S. Mission in South Africa.
In meetings with Western Cape Provincial Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities David Maynier, Mayoral Committee Member for Economic Opportunities in the City of Cape Town James Vos, and Wesgro CEO Tim Harris, Deputy Assistant Secretary Richardson reinforced the shared commitment to increasing bilateral trade and investment, evidenced by the establishment of a new Commercial Officer position at the Consulate General in Cape Town, which will provide even greater resources to support existing and new U.S. private sector investments in a province where the United States is the top source of foreign direct investment.
The U.S. Department of Commerce works with host governments to create attractive commercial environments for U.S. companies by fostering adoption of international standards, regulatory compliance, and greater transparency to assure fair and level playing fields. To that end, in addition to the new position in Cape Town, the U.S. government is adding an Intellectual Property Attaché at the Consulate General in Johannesburg. Deputy Assistant Secretary Richardson noted the importance of this new position, saying, “robust intellectual property rights are a cornerstone for driving economic growth both in South Africa and across the region.”
As a champion of women’s empowerment and entrepreneurship, Deputy Assistant Secretary Richardson also led a discussion featuring several accomplished businesswomen in South Africa working for U.S. companies who have initiated mentorships and projects to promote economic independence and self-realization for women and girls. The U.S. Mission’s work to advance women’s empowerment and to promote women’s entrepreneurship through various programs is an answer to President Ramaphosa’s challenge that “the emancipation of women is only words on paper unless it is matched by commitment from all sectors of society.”
Deputy Assistant Secretary Richardson also met with cutting edge American firms who are leaders in the digital and telecom sectors in the region and who together train thousands of South Africans to develop their technical skills and help South Africa compete in the global information economy.
Launching concrete follow-on events is a focus of the trip, with Deputy Assistant Secretary Richardson expressing a desire to continue discussions for a Pitchfest connecting South African tech firms with U.S. venture capital, planned for April, and a Women’s Empowerment in Business event in August.