It is wonderful to be here to celebrate the beginning of a new era for USAID’s Southern Africa Trade & Investment Hub. And what an amazing view! It seems like we can see the entire city from here. I would like to thank each one of you for coming today and for the work you do to promote economic growth and robust trade and investment in Botswana: an important shared goal for all of us.
Many of you are familiar with the history of USAID’s Trade Hubs, which have worked in close collaboration with the Government of Botswana and especially the Ministry of Investment, Trade, and Industry for many years. The USAID Southern Africa Trade and Investment Hub is the fourth generation of USAID projects with the aim of improving the livelihoods of Southern Africans while reducing poverty by increasing access to trade and broadening investment. There are currently Trade and Investment Hubs operating in both East and West Africa as well. These three regional projects collaborate to share policy ideas, promote business acumen, and break down barriers to trade to increase exports across the continent and around the world.
With the launch of this newest version of the Trade Hub, the U.S. government has added a key word—“investment”—to its name to underscore the important investment opportunities in the region and the tremendous gains that can be made by focusing on investment in partnership with the private sector. The U.S. government recognizes that access to finance and investment is fundamental to economic growth and development.
Regional economic integration also remains a valuable development strategy for Africa, and the Trade and Investment Hub is well poised to help achieve it. Integration of markets can facilitate efficiencies and enhance development outcomes in a significant way.
Utilization of the African Growth and Opportunity Act is another important focus of the Trade and Investment Hub’s technical assistance. Recently, the Hub supported the Government of Botswana to develop an AGOA Action Plan that will be launched by the Ministry of Trade very soon. This will help businesses grow by taking advantage of duty-free exports to the United States.
Trade and Investment Hub experts also work directly with the private sector to improve productivity and facilitate robust regional trade and global market access. Enhancing targeted value chains and building export markets for goods and services remain core activities of the Hub.
Cooperation with the Southern African Development Community is another crucial component of the Trade and Investment Hub’s success. Working directly with Member States as well as the SADC Secretariat, the Hub is catalyzing international trade and market development to create jobs, alleviate poverty, and improve livelihoods.
In closing, let me note I had the distinct pleasure as US Ambassador to support the previous iteration of the Southern Africa Trade Hub. I am proud of the contribution that U.S. Government assistance made to develop numerous growth sectors including agribusiness, food processing, textiles and apparel, and infrastructure during that time. It is one of the reasons I am so excited about the opening of this new office and the future of economic progress and trade in the region.
Above all, the Southern Africa Trade and Investment Hub reflects the American people’s commitment to support our partner communities across Southern Africa, helping to ensure that millions are provided with economic opportunity to build themselves better lives.
It is my great pleasure to declare USAID’s new Southern Africa Trade and Investment Hub “open for business” in Botswana! Thank you for being part of this noteworthy occasion. PULA!