Courtney R. Nemroff
Acting U.S. Representative to the United Nations Economic and Social Council
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
October 22, 2019
Thank you, Mr. President. The United States applauds the efforts of the African Union (AU) to realize the goals and aspirations of NEPAD. We support NEPAD’s overall mission to address the critical challenges that Africa faces, and the United States shares the AU’s goal of a stable and prosperous Africa.
The United States continues to implement new areas of cooperation and collaboration with the AU through innovative initiatives geared toward strengthening sustainable development as well as trade and investment.
As many of you know, the Trump administration launched its Africa Strategy in December of last year. The strategy calls for expanding commercial ties between the United States and Africa; advancing peace and security; supporting stability, good government, and self-reliance across the entire continent.
The U.S. strategy recognizes that high-quality foreign direct investment is essential for Africa’s development. It underscores our longstanding commitment to Africa and to supporting our African partners as the continent transitions from foreign assistance to sustainable financial independence. And it recognizes that satisfying the first objective of the strategy, expanding two-way trade and investment, is the surest way to satisfy the objectives that follow: advancing peace and security, promoting stability, good governance, and self-reliance.
In that spirit, the United States has made expanded economic engagement our number-one priority in Africa. Closer ties between the United States and African private sectors will expand markets for goods and services and contribute to greater American and African prosperity. That would be good news for the United States and for a continent whose population is expected to double by 2050.
And our efforts to ramp up trade and investment could not have come at a better time as the African Continental Free Trade Area enters into force. We strongly support this agreement’s objectives of lowering trade barriers, attracting investment, and diversifying trade.
We believe that now is the right time to discuss particularly mechanisms to foster deeper economic partnership between the United States and our African partners. During High-Level Week of the General Assembly just last month, U.S. and African government and business leaders met to discuss important developments and new tools that the United States is bringing to the table, and that will meet the needs and ambitions of African economies.
With the strong backing of the U.S. administration, our Congress passed legislation called the BUILD Act last year. The BUILD Act retools and expands the U.S. Government’s approach to development finance, and it more than doubles the U.S. Government’s resources for underwriting outbound private investment from approximately $30 billion to $60 billion.
We are also excited about the new International Development Finance Corporation, or DFC: DFC increases the tools and resources of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, or as we know it, OPIC, and adds to the resources of the Development Credit Authority at USAID.
This new, modernized development finance agency offers opportunities for more U.S. direct investment in Africa, as well as equity investments in African companies. The DFC will also provide technical assistance and conduct feasibility studies for potential projects.
So, we will support bankable projects that the private sector will participate in, will energize the U.S. government’s important efforts to advance global women’s economic empowerment by directly investing capital in women-owned and women-supporting projects in Africa.
Speaking of women’s economic empowerment, we are excited to speak about the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative. This is the first whole-of-U.S. government effort to advance global women’s economic empowerment. Access Africa’s partnership between the U.S. Trade and Development Agency and U.S. industry leaders supports the development of quality information and secure communication technology infrastructure across Sub-Saharan Africa. Prosper Africa and the new Continental Free Trade Area both aim to increase two-way trade and investment between the United States and Africa.
Targeted backing from the U.S. government can catalyze significant amounts of private capital for emerging markets. This model of mobilizing private investment is only becoming more prominent, as the needs in the developing world are too great to be address with official government resources alone. And this is why it’s so important that we ensure that business representatives and leaders of critically important business associations are involved every step of the way.
In addition, this past June, the United States announced the Prosper Africa Initiative. At its core, Prosper Africa has three main objectives. First, it aims to establish a one-stop shop where U.S. and African businesses can access the full range of U.S. Government services. Second, it strives to help facilitate more business deals between U.S. and African counterparts. And third, it focuses on promoting better business climates and financial markets on the continent to attract more investment.
Delivering on trade and investment opportunities for American and African businesses creates employment and increases production in both the United States and in Africa. And so many of these projects have social benefits, including, for example, addressing critical housing shortages and identifying more affordable housing solutions for African countries that need them.
We are also working with African partners to bring forward fair and reciprocal free trade agreements with the United States that can serve as a conduit for the investment many African countries desire. Our free trade agreements provide the legal certainty necessary for private sector investments.
Not all countries investing in Africa have followed this model of engagement. Instead, they leverage asymmetric and unfair business deals to infringe on national sovereignty, and often trap countries in spiraling debt. Their bottom line is economic dependency and not self-reliance.
Unlike some state-directed models of development, the U.S. development finance approach focuses on incorporating the strongest U.S. business practices. By mobilizing our private sector capital to build projects that are financially sustainable, we can avoid the debt traps that have often left countries worse off, and do more to improve underlying business climates and initiate virtuous cycles that generate more trade, investment, and growth.
Our promise to Africa is this: U.S. economic engagement in Africa, both bilaterally and through international organizations, such as the United Nations, will continue to be predicated on respect for our partners’ sovereignty; ensuring that local workers benefit from our cooperation; upholding environmental standards; combating corruption; and producing outcomes that are built to last. We’re not only investing in Africa; we’re investing in Africans, providing opportunities that strengthen the workforce and lead to economic self-sufficiency.
Thank you, Mr. President.