U.S. Secretary of Commerce visits Nigeria to explore business opportunities

The U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Penny Pritzker, arrived Lagos on Monday as the head of a fact-finding mission to Nigeria on Doing Business in Africa.

Mrs. Pritzker, who is the chair of President Obama’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa, was accompanied by senior U.S. business executives.

The council was formed to advise President Barack Obama on ways to strengthen commercial engagement between the United States and Africa.

A statement from the US Embassy in Abuja said the trip would provide an opportunity for the council members to gather facts about the commercial opportunities and challenges in Nigeria.

At the end of the visit, the council, which would also visit Rwanda, is expected to “report back to President Obama with strong and actionable recommendations, and develop policy ideas that will benefit both countries and raise our commercial relationship to the next level”.

Secretary Pritzker said President Obama was convinced that the US private sector was capable of helping African business community address some of the continent’s most pressing challenges, namely building modern infrastructure, creating jobs and opportunity for young people, and expanding access to education and the Internet, if they work in partnership.

“When we think about the economic potential of countries across Africa—and Nigeria is absolutely at the top of that list—the imperative that we all face is to promote economic growth and opportunity at home, and deepening our mutually beneficial ties of trade and commerce is not just a nice to have, it is a must-have for all of us,” Mrs. Pritzker said on arrival in Lagos.

She said her mission to Nigeria and Rwanda underscored the Obama Administration’s commitment to shifting the U.S. economic relationship with Africa from one based on aid to one based on trade and investment.

With the trip, the Secretary of Commerce said the PAC-DBIA members would develop an actionable set of recommendation for President Obama regarding how U.S. government programmes and policies could better support economic engagement between Africa and the United States.

Africa, she noted presented tremendous long-term growth opportunities, adding that both the U.S. government and the U.S. private sector were committed to deepening their economic and commercial engagement on Africa.

Nigeria was selected for the trip by the council members specifically for her potential to help grow about 50 million Nigerians in the middle class, and to become one of the top-10 global economies by 2050.

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