Mr. Minister, Distinguished Guests.
I am grateful for the opportunity to be here today, and I want to thank Minister Tchango for the invitation. And thank you to all of you for coming out today. Your attendance – and your hard work – is a testament to the commitment between the United States and Gabon to deepen our economic partnership and grow our commercial relationship to bring shared prosperity to both of our countries. I am thrilled that the United States and Gabon will co-host the 2015 African Growth and Opportunity Act Forum here in Libreville.
For 14 years, AGOA has been one of the United States’ primary tools to develop active partnerships and push forward greater trade and investment in Africa. And AGOA has been a clear success. Partly thanks to AGOA, Africa is diversifying its economies, creating new opportunities for private businesses and private investment, creating jobs, and bringing new prosperity to its citizens. Exports to the United States under AGOA were over USD 25.5 billion in 2014, and non-oil exports have grown by a factor of four since AGOA began in 2001. And AGOA-related investment has resulted in the creation of over 300,000 jobs in sub-Saharan Africa.
At the AGOA Forum in Washington last August, Secretary of State John Kerry celebrated the program’s many successes. From cocoa and cashew-producers in Ghana to textile manufacturers and workers in Mauritius, AGOA has empowered workers and businesspeople across the continent.
AGOA creates new partnerships. As just one example, Ford Motor Company now produces and exports engines duty-free from South Africa thanks to an investment of more than 300 million dollars, creating jobs both in South Africa and in the United States. We want AGOA to create active partnerships of this kind here in Gabon.
The 2015 AGOA Forum in Libreville will be a great opportunity to highlight and deepen the economic partnership between the United States and Gabon. It is also a great opportunity for you to show off everything Gabon has to offer to investors – a government that aims to create a friendly and open business and investment environment, a highly educated population, an emerging entrepreneurial class, a strategic location in a dynamic region, and a wealth of natural resources.
As a commercial partner, a source of investment, a market for Gabonese goods, and as a good friend, the United States is elated to co-host the 2015 AGOA Forum with you. We look forward to continuing to work with you to ensure the Forum is a resounding success.
Thank you for your time. And let me wish all Gabonese women, particularly our partners in the community of women entrepreneurs, a happy Gabonese Women’s Day tomorrow.