Obama Promotes Trade, Investment Between U.S. and Africa
Speaking at the US-Africa Business Forum in New York a day after his final appearance at the UN General Assembly, the U.S. President Barak Obama made a strong point towards the required strengthening that is needed between U.S. and African trade. He made the point that Africa is not just looking for Aid, but rather to grow and strive in the global markets trade and investment is critical.
African Business Magazine highlighted the importance of President Obama’s speech, saying that the speech represented one of Obama’s final addresses on Africa policy after eight years at the helm. The president took the opportunity to review his legacy on the continent, highlighting his four visits – a record for a US president – and his administration’s renewal of the flagship African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which provides tariff free-access to the US market for African manufacturers.
Obama went on to say that “We are making progress, but we’re just scratching the surface. We have so much more work that can be done and will be done. Only a fraction of American exports — about 2 percent — go to Africa. So there’s still so much untapped potential.”
The president stuck to his mercantilist vision for future relations, highlighting Power Africa’s ‘real progress’ and further spurning the aid dependency that characterised Africa’s engagement with previous US administrations. “This is a US-Africa business forum. This is not charity. All of you should be wanting to make money, and create great products and great services, and be profitable, and do right by your investors,” he said.
Obama went on to highlight the prohibiting factors that continued to contribute towards Africa’s perception that trade with the EM continent was not always on the global map for investors and governments alike. “Graft, cronyism, corruption — it stifles growth, scares off investment. A business should begin with a handshake and not a shakedown. The truth is, is that those governments that are above-board and transparent, people want to do business there. People don’t want to do business in places where the rules are constantly changing depending on who’s up, who’s down, whose cousin is who.”
Despite this, the President concluded that if more focus can be shown towards Africa’s growth and infrastructure potential, then the continent will begin to adapt more towards global standards and begin to build more regulated systems. For Obama’s last speech in office towards Africa, it highlighted what is on so many Africans’ minds: hope and potential for trade prosperity for the continent’s future.