Secretary of State Colin L. Powell
Remarks to African Growth and Opportunity Act Forum
Washington, D.C.
October 29, 2001
@12:00 P.M. EST

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, thank you very much, Walter. And, once again, greetings to all of you. And it is a great pleasure to have you all here.

I also want to thank Walter for the superb work that he has done in helping to pull this conference together, together with so many others who worked on it. I'm very pleased especially to have Jendaye Frasier here from the National Security Council. You all know her well.

And I want to congratulate Walter for the wonderful work he has been doing. Here is a man who knows your interests, he knows your passions. When I interviewed him for the first time for the job and I looked at him and I said, well, I'm not sure what he knows about all of this -- (laughter) -- but then when I really studied his background, I realized how much he knew about Africa but, more, how much he loved Africa. And then when I just threw him a couple of questions, and before I knew it, I had lost control of the conversation, because he was feeding back to me the passion and love that he has for Africa, that I knew I had the right man for the job. And he is doing a great job, not only for America, but for you. (Applause.)

But here, colleagues, you just heard from President Bush. You heard him voice his unequivocal support to a prosperous, peaceful, and democratic future for Africa. He has given me my clear marching orders. In fact, they were clear from the moment I took this job in January. And I look forward to working in lockstep with all of you to get the job done.

The mission he gave me is one that I enthusiastically embrace. As America's sixty-fifth Secretary of State, and as her only African American Secretary of State so far -- (applause) -- I need no convincing that America and Africa's pasts, our present and our future are closely intertwined. And it serves all of our interests and our shared democratic values that we should deepen and enrich our interaction by forums such as this.

President Bush has been adamant that this long-planned gathering take place as soon as possible after the September 11th attacks, because holding this conference sends profoundly important signals to the world about US foreign policy and the US-Africa relationship. He was determined that the world see that, one, Washington is at work, America is at work, his Administration is at work, and we have no higher priority than to reach out to our African brothers and sisters and to the nations of Africa to show you that you are important, we care, and we're going to move forward together. And no terrorist act, no concern about terrorist acts was going to keep us from getting together. And so I am especially pleased to have you here. (Applause.)

Before September 11th, the Administration, with the backing of a bipartisan majority in the Congress, was pursuing an active, mutually productive agenda with the countries of Africa. And we are even more determined to do so now.

Moving ahead with this conference also sends a message about the direction we wish the US-Africa relationship to take. And that direction is forward, forward with a new spirit of partnership, a partnership that comes from a shared commitment to freedom, free peoples and free markets.

The Bush Administration believes that political freedom and economic freedom are inseparable. Their power for good is increasingly felt all over the world. The embrace of accountable, representative government, respect for human and minority rights, respect for the rule of law, civil society and open markets, all of these coming together are making economic development and poverty reduction possible for countries on every continent and especially in Africa.

By the same token, we also believe deeply and strongly that while good governance is essential to creating the conditions needed for entrepreneurship and investment to flourish, it is the private sector, in this case businesses run by hardworking people in America and Africa, which makes development and well-being sustainable.

Our common goal is for African nations to reach the point of self-propelled development, where their citizens are able not just to survive, but to thrive, and where they are both contributing to and taking advantage of an expanding global economy.

To those ends, my country has a number of key economic tools to apply: Private, direct investment, technology transfer, and management expertise. But the single most important, most powerful and most readily available tool is our market place, and opening our market place to African goods is why we are all here today.

Especially in this globalized world, the private sector, not the government sector, is the driver of prosperity. That is true all around the globe, here in the United States, in China, where the President and I were last week, and especially in Africa. Everywhere, it is the market place, it is the globalized world interacting with the market place, with the assistance of government, that will allow us to move forward together. Growth rates in excess of seven percent a year, even more for some countries, will be necessary if African nations are to escape from poverty.

So it is growth, growth, growth that is the engine we must all hook up to if we are going to go forward together. Enormous amounts of private capital, both foreign investment and the savings and investments of Africans themselves will be needed on a scale many times larger than could ever be available from official bilateral and multilateral development assistance.

But capital is a coward. It is only drawn to places where there is the clarity of law, where the society and the government rest on a body of law, where there is accountability on behalf of the government. Capital in this globalized world, where you can move capital instantaneously by the flick of a mouse switch, capital will go to where it is going to be safe, where it can find a return on its investment. It will flee, it will flee from corruption, it will flee from bad policies, it will flee from those societies and nations that remain rooted in a past system of corruption and bad policies. Capital does not like conflicts; it does not like unpredictability. It flees from all of these things.

And that's why we concentrate on the rule of law, on the elimination of corruption, on human rights, on democratic systems and processes which allow governments to reflect the will of their people.

We fully recognize that making economic transitions is difficult. We know from our own experience here in the United States that African industries and enterprises may undergo some rough times as they move to more open markets. Inevitably, there will be resistance to the needed changes. But from our own experience, we also know that making adjustments, however hard, however challenging, is well worth the effort, and it is well worth the temporary discomfort that it may entail.

Ignoring warning signals and postponing reform is only a recipe for decline and even greater pain in the future. That is why the coming together of the American and African private sectors is at the crux of the Bush Administration's Africa policy, and of this trade and economic forum. And it's why the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act's eligibility requirements are so essential to AGOA's ability through trade and market access to generate investment, growth and development.

President Bush believes and I believe that Africa's success will ultimately be defined by private enterprise, by the establishment of crucial business networks, such as those AGOA can engender. By the operation of joint ventures, large and small, that help to knit together sectors of your national economies, that link the economies of African nations to one another, and that help weave together the economies of Africa with the American economy and with the global trading system.

The American market is the largest in the world. Last year, the United States imported $1.2 trillion in goods. Our market is rich, it is complicated, it is segmented. But as so many nations have found, it is well worth breaking into and using.

I have to digress and take you back with me to Shanghai just the other day when President Bush and I visited for the APEC meetings in Shanghai. To see Shanghai and the explosive growth that city has seen and what has happened in other parts of China and to reflect on the first time I visited Shanghai back in 1973, it's just remarkable. And to realize that all of those buildings have surfaced, come out of the ground, reached the sky in just the last 10 to 12 years is just amazing.

You've seen pictures of Shanghai but you actually have to visit to get the sense of the power that went into creating that city, the economic power, the market power. And China did it by realizing that they had to come out of their past, that they had to trade with the rest of the world, and especially they had to trade with the United States of America.

And so they opened up. Not totally; still not the kind of society and political system we would find acceptable for ourselves. But nevertheless, they opened up and 40 percent of their exports now come to the United States. It is investment in China that has allowed them to thrive in places like Shanghai and will allow them to thrive as they move that wealth out into the countryside.

So we have to break down these barriers for all nations of the world, and especially the nations of Africa, so you can come and create that same kind of miracle for your countries. It is not easy. You have to move away from the past and you have to break down those barriers that have existed for so many years. And that is exactly what AGOA does.

It allows African countries and African companies to break into our market and to export their goods to our shores without any duty, thousands of African products now can come to America duty free. And the products are coming. The numbers are impressive.

In the few months that AGOA has been in place, African exports to the United States have gone up 15 percent. One country, Madagascar, has seen their exports to the United States jump 126 percent. To cite but one vivid example, Walt Kansteiner, my assistant secretary, who is an old commodity trader, tells me that since President Bush signed the AGOA legislation into law this May, the shipping lines have laid on more ships each month just to handle the increase in cargo on their routes from southern Africa to the American east coast. You're on your way. Let's make sure they have to add new ships every month, month after month. With every ship, more wealth will return to Africa. Take advantage of the opportunities that are being provided to you.

And I can assure you that I will be fighting here in the United States to get even more access, to do as much as we can to let you be part of this economic miracle that is possible, if we just keep moving in the right direction. (Applause.)

And so there can be no doubt in anyone's mind that AGOA is already a terrific success, and we want to keep it that way. As we assemble here this morning and as we speak to each other, the United States Congress is addressing some important modifications and adjustments to the original AGOA legislation. These enhancements, if approved, will allow additional products to enter our market duty free. This is very significant. We want to see AGOA provide jobs in Africa and to create wealth and stability throughout the continent.

In Lesotho alone, over 10,000 jobs have been created. Kenya, Tanzania, Mauritius, South Africa are all reporting jumps in job creation. South Africa tells us that thousands of jobs in the textile and related industries are being created every month, thanks to AGOA.

They call this the pull-through effect. Not only is a company manufacturing sweaters, for instance, but that plant is buying yarn and thread and machinery and parts for those machines that are all needed to have a system of production. And this demand means jobs, new jobs, better jobs, jobs that mean hope, jobs that mean security for African families.

Thousands of Africans are enjoying the compounding effects of burgeoning commerce, jobs and profits. Americans are enjoying superb products that they can now buy duty free. As I said to many audiences, when you see what happened in China and what is happening now in Africa, it is not just the result of American industry investing, it is the result of American consumers going into stores, American consumers going into Wal-Mart and K-Mart and drugstores all over and looking for quality goods at low prices so that they can make ends meet.

And so as you go about your work, think in terms of large companies, think in terms of OPIC, think in terms of the government and the Congress, but above all, think in terms of the American consumer, not a rich consumer, but somebody only making $20,000 or $25,000 or $30,000 a year, who wants a quality product that has come into the country at a price he or she can afford. And if you think in those terms and try to hit that market, you will be successful.

And so this is a wonderful time to see this all happening and taking place. We see the easing of bilateral trade barriers with the United States through AGOA as a major tool for Africa to use in building prosperity and spurring development. We also see great scope for tariff reduction in Africa, and globally throughout the World Trading Organization. We endorse the Southern African Development Community's efforts to promote regional advances. And we applaud SADC's plans to work toward establishing a free trade area among its members.

As Trade Representative Zoellick has suggested, liberalization on the global level through World Trade Organization activities can bring many more benefits. The more a country participates in the international trading system, the more that country and its citizens benefit.

All countries have a stake in an expanding world economy. That is why the United States supports the launching of a new negotiating round at Doha, and why we are ready go work with all of you to bring your nations fully into the global trading system.

Africa's integration into the global economy will permit Africans to seize economic opportunities at this time of accelerating technological innovation. For example, in key areas such as telecommunications, the Internet can obviate geography's handicaps for landlocked nations. And advances in biotechnology can protect against famine and build strong foundations for rural economies.

Indeed, the spread of democracy and market economies and the breakthroughs in technology permit us all to envision a day when, for the first time, the vast majorities of Africans can have hope in their hearts and bread on their tables and a better future for their children. It is within their grasp.

A better future is within reach if African governments and societies leverage the rewards of political and economic freedom by putting a priority on good governance; if African militaries understand their subordinate role under civilians in a democratic society; if governments do not oppose peaceful opposition with force but rather choose engagement with ideas; if journalists who exercise the right to free expression are not sent on express journeys to jail; if big men do not define foreign investment as depositing stolen billions in foreign banks; if the model for democratic participation is one person one vote, and frequent elections to allow people to change their minds every few years as to the manner in which they wish to be governed.

That is why America is working with African governments and international and local NGOs to promote and strengthen civil societies, independent media, human rights, the rule of law and democratic development, and why we so vigorously pursue standard-setting instruments of trade and investment like AGOA.

A better future is within reach if African governments and companies, domestically owned, foreign owned or joint ventures, if they value their greatest assets, their people, and plough some profits back into education and social programs -- for young democracies depend on informed citizens, and growing economies depend on skilled labor and management and a healthy work force -- to help free the enormous potential of the 800 million men and women of Africa, for example, the United States, as the President noted, is engaged in scores of education programs throughout the continent through the United States Agency for International Development, the Peace Corps, US-based NGOs, and various colleges and foundations. A better future is within reach if all levels of government, society, individuals, organizations, religious institutions, corporations, local and national authorities and international institutions recognize the reality of the HIV/AIDS pandemic and take responsibility and action to halt its spread.

I am proud that America has pledged $200 million to jumpstart this bold, new public/private partnership that you are all aware of. And, as you heard the President say this morning, we plan to do more as we see some success from this initiative.

And the better future for Africa that we all seek is within reach if African nations and the international community work together to bring peace and stability to parts of Africa where conflict threatens or reigns. The United States will continue to work with our African friends to ease the suffering from conflict, and we will continue to build on America's proud tradition of leadership in meeting the needs of refugees and those displaced.

We are working to prevent, not just relieve humanitarian crises -- working to prevent them by addressing their underlying causes. We will redouble our efforts within the international community to curb trade which fuels violence, such as the trafficking in conflict diamonds and weapons. And we will continue actively to support a broad range of international peace efforts.

Peace is not a foreign concept to Africans, nor can it be a foreign import. America cannot make peace among Africans, but we will be a friend to all Africans who seek peace.

During my latest trip to Africa in May, which was my first trip to Africa as Secretary of State, I made a point of talking to young people and asking them to imagine them their world and their continent 20 years from now, an Africa of vibrant democracies from the Sahel to the Cape, from the western rainforests to the eastern savanna, and everyplace in between. I asked them to imagine an Africa of economies thriving in global markets that stretched from Pretoria to Paris, from Nairobi to New York, from Timbuktu to Tokyo. I asked the young people to imagine a continent where all people have access to decent schools and medical facilities, to safe drinking water, to good roads and railways, to electricity and to the Internet. I asked the young people to imagine a continent of nations at peace within their borders and with their neighbors.

The 20-year-olds of today who I asked could be living in such an Africa in 20 years time. But the decisions that we gray-haired elders make and the actions we now take will go far in determining whether the rising generation will ever see such a future. I hope that what you hear today from the United States contingent leaves all of you with no doubt that the United States is committed to helping the energetic and enterprising people of Africa build this democratic, peaceful and prosperous future for these young people. And good governance, open markets, free trade and capital investment will be absolutely essential to our mutual success. And that is why this forum is so vitally important, and why President Bush and the American people are pleased and honored to host it.

And now, my friends, it is my privilege to turn over the floor to my colleague, Foreign Minister Gadio of Senegal. On behalf of President Bush and the American people, I want to applaud the Foreign Minister for the leading role he has taken on the African pact against terrorism, which will contribute greatly to the global effort. I also want to recognize his role in the new African initiative, which puts African leadership at the forefront of African progress.

Mr. Minister, the floor is now yours. (Applause.)

END 12:15 P.M. EST