The First U.S.-Sub-Saharan African Trade & Economic Cooperation Forum
"No nation in our time has entered the fast track of development without first opening up its economy to world markets. The African Growth and Opportunity Act is a road map for how the United States and Africa can tap the power of markets to improve the lives of our citizens."
President George W. Bush, October 29, 2001
With these words, President Bush addressed the first U.S.-Sub-Saharan African Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum, more commonly known as the AGOA Forum. The AGOA Forum was held in Washington October 29-30, 2001, and was hosted by the Secretaries of State, Treasury, and Commerce, and the U.S. Trade Representative. Trade, Foreign Affairs, and Finance Ministers from 35 eligible Sub-Saharan African countries participated, along with representatives from African regional organizations. The focus of the Forum was on discussing further measures that the U.S. and Sub-Saharan African nations can jointly take to stimulate economic growth and trade, enhance democracy and good governance, and combat HIV/AIDS.
The Forum was a resounding success largely because of the broad cabinet-level participation and the interactive format of the plenary sessions. The participation of President Bush, Secretary Powell, Secretary O'Neill, Secretary Evans, Secretary Veneman, U.S. Trade Representative Zoellick, National Security Advisor Rice, USAID Administrator Natsios, and Members Of Congress of both political parties demonstrated the deep commitment of the Administration and U.S. Government to strengthening trade and investment ties, increading prosperity and combating poverty on the African continent.
During the Forum, U.S. officials emphasized the United States’ strong commitment to Africa and noted the initial success of AGOA. U.S. and African speakers underscored the necessity of good governance, rule of law, and political freedom to attract investment and achieve growth. The use of African co-chairs and active question and answer sessions allowed African officials the opportunity speak openly about the benefits and challenges of AGOA.
In his address to the Forum, President Bush announced the creation of a $200 million Overseas Private Investment Corporation support facility that will give American firms access to loans, guarantees and political risk insurance for investment projects in sub-Sahara Africa. He also announced the establishment of a Trade and Development Agency (TDA) regional office in Johannesburg and the TDA Trade for African Development and Enterprise Program, both to provide guidance and assistance to governments and companies which seek to liberalize their trade laws, improve the investment environment, and take advantage of AGOA.
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USTR ZOELLICK (Press Release)