United States Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker over the weekend rounded off her visit to Africa in Ethiopia, where she said US companies were looking for business opportunities across the continent.
“My trip was to discuss US commitment to Africa and what we can do to spur trade and investment in Ethiopia. President Barack Obama sees tremendous opportunities for trade and investment in Ethiopia,” Pritzker told reporters in Addis Ababa.
US companies are seeking opportunities to invest in Africa’s aviation, construction, health, agriculture and energy sectors, according to the Commerce Secretary who earlier visited Ghana and Nigeria.
Pritzker described her visit as an “incredibly successful energy and trade-focused mission”.
“It is a clear confirmation that American companies are increasingly aware of the tremendous opportunities to do business in West Africa. I can tell you that American companies and investors are becoming increasingly aware that these opportunities exist throughout Africa,” she said.
Pritzker said the US was keen to encourage more American firms to follow the footsteps of firms like Microsoft and General Electric in doing business.
“One of the ways we can help the US companies take advantage from the mutually-beneficial opportunities in Africa is through our foreign commercial services. We need dynamic individuals who can work every day to help American companies find new customers,” she said.
The US, largely viewed as lagging behind China in doing business in Africa, says it plans to boost trade by expanding the reach of African products into the US market, under the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA).
Pritzker said AGOA remained the foundation of the US economic engagement with Africa, allowing 6400 products from eligible sub-Saharan Africa countries to enter the US duty-free.
In 2013, US imports under AGOA totaled US$26.8 billion. By comparison, Chinese trade with Africa totaled US$200 billion in 2013.