Ambassador Gilmour Remarks
Closing Ceremony, AGOA Forum 2017
Thursday, Aug. 10 at 4 PM in the main pavilion tent
Let me begin by saying thank you to all our distinguished guests – the African Ministers and officials who have traveled from across the continent to be here, my U.S. Government colleagues, and our partners in the private sector and civil society – for your participation and collaboration over the past two days of this forum, and for your commitment to strengthening the partnership between the United States and sub-Saharan Africa.
I want to extend a special thanks to the Government of Togo, led by his Excellency, President Faure Gnassingbe, for having done such an extraordinary job as the host of the 16th AGOA Forum. It has been a pleasure for me to watch over the past few days as our guests have realized what I have known for two years now – that Togo may be small country but it is country capable of doing great things!
Finally, I would be remiss if I did not take this opportunity to thank specifically Minister Dédé Ekoue, the president of the AGOA national planning committee, and her team. Dede and her staff and my team at the Embassy have worked closely and collaboratively for many months to make this forum a success, and I can say truthfully that we could not have asked for a better partner. Madame Dede – thank you.
We have now come to the end of two very productive and enlightening days spent exchanging ideas on a variety of topics – regional integration, trade and labor, women and trade, logistics and transportation, investment, agriculture, agro-business and land reform; bio-technology; energy; and so much more.
What unites all these topics and what brought us all here, is a single common goal: to advance sub-Saharan Africa’s economic development by enhancing its trade and investment ties with the United States.
This is the vision that inspired the U.S. congress to pass the AGOA Law in 2000, and to renew it for an additional 10 years in 2015, and it is the vision that has shaped the past 15 AGOA Forums.
Of course, one thing that we have discussed many times over the past few days is that the world is not the same place that it was when AGOA was first passed in 2000. Part of that is due to AGOA’s success. Total African exports under AGOA have increased to over $10 billion since the program’s inception, and non-oil exports have increased 200 percent. Africa has grown wealthier, and the opportunities and challenges have evolved.
So the task that all of here today carry back with us at the close of this forum – our homework, if you will – is to think about where we go from here. How do we continue to maximize AGOA, and how do we develop clear steps to enhance the U.S.-sub-Saharan Africa trade relationship beyond AGOA?
How do we continue to leverage the assistance provided by the U.S. government – such as that provided by the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, and others – to develop energy, transport, and other infrastructure that supports U.S.-Africa trade, and a more competitive role for Africa in the vast global economy?
But at the same time how do we harness the power of the private sector – from homegrown entrepreneurs to international firms – to create innovative solutions to complex issues and accelerate economic growth?
There is no on-size-fits-all answer to these questions. We will be wrestling and debating about these issues at the next AGOA Forum, and the next one after that.
But there is one thing that is clear, and that is that all of us in this room share a commitment to using trade as an engine for economic growth on both sides of the Atlantic. I hope that we will continue to advance this common vision for the shared benefit of our countries, our businesses, and our peoples.
Thank you again for participating in this AGOA forum.