Reta Jo Lewis
Special Representative for Global Intergovernmental Affairs
Kansas City, Missouri
August 4, 2010

Good morning. It is a pleasure to be here to participate in the African Growth and Opportunity Act Forum. As a Representative of the United States and on behalf of the U.S. Department of State, I would like to thank Mayor Reardon from Kansas City, Kansas, Kansas Commerce Secretary Thornton, Deputy Assistant Secretary Fitzgerald, Assistant Secretary Carson, Under Secretary Miller, the African ministers, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and all other state and local officials and businesses for the hard work you do day in and day out to support the commitment of the U.S. government and businesses towards African progress, and for welcoming all of us to the region.

This year, for the next three days, this portion of the AGOA Forum held in your great city will include meetings with U.S. business leaders and site visits to U.S. local businesses. In addition, we are so delighted that as African leaders you will also have multiple opportunities to engage with U.S. companies and trade associations, and state and local leaders in order to attract investors to the continent.

The Forum’s theme, “AGOA at 10: New Strategies in a Changing World” highlights the connection between trade, investment and economic growth, as well as the plethora of trade opportunities available under AGOA.

This Kansas City platform we believe will be an excellent opportunity for exchange, learning and strategic debate around the opportunities available in Africa. We have this occasion to tackle together these common and urgent challenges of Africa’s enormous development tribulations and sow the seeds for future economic prosperity.

AGOA is a key tool in our efforts to achieve this Administration’s development priorities: to establish the next generation of emerging markets, including by building an effective trading partnership between the United States and the countries of sub-Saharan Africa.

The Washington and Kansas City Forum has brought together representatives from federal, state and local government, major U.S. companies, and representatives from the 38 eligible sub-Saharan African nations to facilitate expanding trade and investment among sub-Saharan African and U.S. businesses with a special focus on agribusiness. In Kansas City alone we have delegations representing 20 sub-Saharan African nations. Our focus in Kansas City is in direct response to African nation’s requests for broader and deeper interaction with the U.S. private sector on trade and investment linkages.

As all of you know, there is tangible progress from the work of AGOA that can be seen in the economic trends of recent years. The United States continues to be a leading provider of foreign direct investment to Africa. At year end 2008, the U.S. direct investment position in sub-Saharan Africa was $22.41 billion, 12 percent above the position at year-end 2007.

Total two-way trade between the United States and sub-Saharan Africa increased 57 percent over the first five months of 2010 compared with the same period last year, reaching $33.1 billion. U.S. exports to sub-Saharan Africa rose by 7 percent to $6.4 billion during the first five months of 2010.

Also, U.S. imports from sub-Saharan Africa increased by 78 percent to $26.6 billion in the first five months of 2010. This shows the significant impact that AGOA is having on the African economy and the great strides trade and investment are making in the continent. With the continued commitment of both the U.S. and African communities, we can only imagine what we can do together in the coming years.

In addition, Secretary Clinton, as the leading U.S. diplomat, has made international engagement on development a priority in all of our work, because our communities the world over are grappling with the same issue: how to boost economic growth, spur development, reduce poverty and increase trade and investment.

Under Secretary Clinton, the State Department too has broadened and changed the way we conduct business and opened our doors to a new era of global engagements, and working with new partners to collaborate and innovate the way we engage globally.

As Secretary Clinton has made clear, the time has come to take a bold and imaginative look, not just at the substance of our foreign policy, but at how we conduct our foreign policy. We are now making the transition to 21st Century Statecraft, engaging with all the elements of our national power – and leveraging all forms of our strength. As she said, we must now engage our subnational leaders and utilize them as an extraordinary source of innovation, talent, resources, and knowledge. In the past, we only scratched the surface.

We are delighted to be in the region and this Forum is allowing us to build partnerships that will allow mayors and local officials to exchange ideas. Because we know that it is the state and local leaders and the private sector working together that are the engines of economic growth and can be at the core of expanding the capacity of African businesses and entrepreneurs in their quest for dynamic markets.

Secretary Clinton truly understands the importance of working closely with state and local officials to successfully address the global challenges that face Africa.

This Forum has allowed us to build and enhance global relationships between state and local officials so that they can collaborate on international issues such as urbanization, city planning, food security, global health, trade, investment and economic development, energy, and climate change; all of which require effective intergovernmental collaboration.

With Africa, the United States is implementing these priorities with programs like AGOA, which are dedicated to promoting prosperity, open markets, and good governance. There is a growing consensus in both Africa and the United States that engagement through open trade and international investment are among the fastest ways for Africa to boost economic growth, spur development and reduce poverty.

We are truly all in this together, and we will only succeed in building Africa into a model for economic growth not only by forging mutually beneficial partnerships among our state and local leaders and their subnational counterparts abroad, but also through public-private partnerships and business networks. This is all in order to create inclusive partnerships for effective development and investment.

I want to express my sincere thanks to all those who made this AGOA Forum in the regions of Kansas and Missouri possible and all who work on this issue so critical to our common future. As we come together for state and local partnerships in pursuit of the common good, we are making a difference.

Again, I would like to thank Mayor Reardon for his commitment to AGOA’s goals. We are so happy to have his support in this Forum.