Assistant Secretary Johnnie Carson's Op-Ed Appears in Kansas City Star

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
August 3, 2010
cargo ship anchors in the port of Mombasa, Kenya

Learn More: 2010 AGOA Forum on U.S.-sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation

In an Op-Ed for the Kansas City Star, Assistant Secretary of State of African Affairs Johnnie Carson discusses how exporters are seeking a connection with United States businesses.

"If you're looking to grow your business and open new markets abroad, you might want to visit the Marriott in downtown Kansas City this Wednesday through Friday. About 35 trade, agriculture and transportation ministers from 30 African countries -- in addition to more than 100 African and 50 U.S. businesses -- will be meeting there for the ninth annual African Growth and Opportunity Act Forum. Since 2001, the forum has alternated between Washington and African capitals, but this year we have included Kansas City to help boost U.S.- Africa business.

"The African Growth and Opportunity Act, also known as AGOA, was passed by Congress in 2000 to strengthen our trading partnership with sub-Saharan African countries that demonstrate progress in economic, legal and human rights reforms. Under the legislation, 38 countries are eligible to export nearly 6,500 products to the United States duty-free. Although African companies are the direct beneficiaries of AGOA when they export to the U.S., American companies can also benefit when they invest in Africa or supply equipment and technical support to eligible African firms. The forum is instrumental in making these business relationships possible.

"It is not by chance that we selected Kansas City for this year's forum. In its first years, AGOA fostered a substantial increase in African exports, particularly apparel, to the United States. But since the world's quota regime for textiles and apparel came to an end in 2005, African apparel exporters have struggled to compete in U.S. markets. The recent economic downturn has also contributed to a decrease in African exports of petroleum, chemical and mineral products. The only sector in which AGOA trade has increased over the past decade is agriculture. And that is where Kansas City comes into the picture.

"At this week's forum, we are hoping to breathe new life into AGOA and create opportunities for U.S. businesses and African exporters that might not have otherwise found each other. Africa has enormous untapped potential in its agriculture and food processing sectors, with much of its arable land underused and crops unable to find their way to markets. As the world's demand for food and other agricultural products grows, Africa's importance in these areas will only increase.

"The United States recognizes Africa's growing strategic importance in agriculture and will be providing assistance under the president's Feed the Future agricultural initiative to help a dozen African countries develop their production and distribution capacity. This will mean opportunities for American companies to sell seed, fertilizer, specialized farm machinery and agricultural processing equipment. It is also an opportunity for large American agricultural-industrial companies to make strategic trade and investment relationships. Given Africa's limited road and rail infrastructure, transportation is another sector that has enormous potential for growth. Africa will also benefit from these partnerships.

"I have spent most of my career of 45 years working on and living in Africa, and I can assure you it is, above all, a continent of farmers and traders. Much like our own founding fathers, many of Africa's leaders and “city slickers” are farmers at heart and maintain their ties to the land and investments in agriculture. Officials and businesspeople from two-thirds of sub-Saharan African countries coming to Kansas City for the AGOA Forum suggests they know what matters when it comes to farming, food and trade. Please join us to see for yourself. I'll be there."

Read the Assistant Secretary's Op-Ed as it appears on the Kansas City Star's website.

The AGOA forum is currently taking place in Kansas City. It will bring together more than 600 participants, including senior U.S. and African officials, members of the private sector, and civil society. This year's forum theme, “AGOA at 10: New Strategies for a Changing World” focuses on the linkages between private investment and economic growth in Africa and highlights ways in which African countries can best take advantage of trade opportunities under AGOA.



Ewnetu T.
August 3, 2010

Ewnetu T. in Canada writes:

Well, that would have been a great speech if it didn't come out of a representative of a government who still keeps funding despotic tyrants like meles zenawi of Ethiopia with billions of dollars of military and other aid to keep him in power to repress over 80 million Ethiopians, even after many years of the broad human rights violations and abuse of power, reported by the the US State Department itself. Talk is cheap when you put your money on promoting such horrific regimes, that incarcerate a 35 year old Judge Birtukan Mideksa, a popular young leader (who got separated from her five year old daughter first when she was only six monthes old, and got only one time to celebrate her birthday with her mother) incomminicado on fabricated charges and hundreds of thousands political prisoners languishing in the notorious prisons all over Ethiopia. We have enough of empty talk and looking for his actions bro!


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