It is an honor to join you today for what I believe will be a very beneficial event. I would like to thank Minister Counselor for Commercial Affairs Don Nay of the U.S. Commercial Service in Johannesburg, which has oversight of commercial services in the region, for his visit. I would also like to recognize the American Business Council in Botswana for organizing this event, and the Botswana Investment and Trade Center for providing this excellent venue.
Nine months ago we held an event with ABC in this very room on financing opportunities the U.S. Government’s Overseas Private Investment Corporation, known as OPIC, can offer for projects that are connected to the U.S. private sector. Since then, OPIC entered into a $250 million partnership with Bayport and approved $45 million in financing to the African Banking Corporation of Botswana.
The U.S. Government offers significant resources and market access to Botswana companies and the purpose of today’s engagement is to raise awareness of these tools so you can take advantage of U.S. Government commercial offerings as well as U.S. market access under the African Growth and Opportunity Act, AGOA.
In our bilateral consultations Batswana stakeholders asked us for an AGOA time horizon longer than the five year window under the previous legislation. We provided this input to Washington and they acted on this request and extended AGOA for 10 years. This is important because it provides enough of a time window for investors to set up export operations and take advantage of the unilateral tariff-free market access.
In addition, the U.S. Embassy through USAID supports a five-year $15 million development credit authority (DCA) with Barclays Bank Botswana to provide access to credit for small and medium enterprises and entrepreneurs. The DCA is helping Botswana to diversify its economy and create jobs. I have additional information with me for those who are interested.
We want you to leverage these resources and market access to grow your business, diversify Botswana’s economy, create jobs, and boost bilateral trade. We are committed to building U.S.-Botswana commercial ties for the betterment of American and Batswana lives, and are grateful to have ABC as a strong partner in this endeavor.