May 30, 2023
Radisson Blu Hotel, Antananarivo
Good morning, and welcome to today’s “One Country, One Day” conference on increasing U.S.-Madagascar trade and investment.
It’s time now to think about creative ways to supporting economic growth and development, not only for Madagascar but also for the United States.
I would like to thank the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for partnering with the U.S. Embassy on this event.
I would also like to thank the expert panelists and moderators for volunteering their time today, and everyone here for joining us to discuss this important topic.
The United States is committed to helping Madagascar develop your economy in a way that is sustainable, open to American investment, and beneficial to the Malagasy people.
The U.S. government is Madagascar’s largest bilateral donor in the health sector, and the largest single-nation provider of emergency and development assistance to southern and southeastern Madagascar.
U.S. development assistance also supports environmental protection, and sustainable development and livelihoods. And, it supports people to people exchanges, governance reforms, and primary education.
This foreign assistance is only one aspect of our relationship with Madagascar. We also have an important and growing commercial relationship.
The United States is Madagascar’s second largest trading partner after France.
Last year, for the first time, trade between our two countries reached almost one billion dollars.
Importantly, Madagascar became the fourth largest non-petroleum exporter to the United States among African countries, thanks to the African Growth and Opportunities Act, or AGOA.
America is the largest market for two of Madagascar’s most important exports: textiles and vanilla. These exports enter the United States duty-free thanks to AGOA.
However, our trade now stands at a crossroads, as the U.S. Congress considers renewal of AGOA in 2025, and as American companies continue to face a challenging investment climate in Madagascar.
Madagascar must use this opportunity to raise the competitiveness of its economy, regardless of whether AGOA is ultimately renewed in 2025.
To address this challenge, I am pleased to announce that the United States, through the U.S. agency for International Development USAID, has helped Madagascar develop a National AGOA Strategy for 2022-2025, which we are launching here today.
The strategy provides recommendations for addressing governance, infrastructure, and the business environment for all sectors, not just those that benefit from AGOA.
When implemented, the strategy will help address some of the concerns raised by U.S. companies operating in Madagascar, such as unpredictable tax and regulatory regimes.
With that background, let me introduce today’s panels.
Our first panel today, moderated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and including panelists from the Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Consumption as well as USAID and the International Finance Corporation IFC, will discuss the impact of implementing Madagascar’s National AGOA Strategy.
The United States also shares the goal of increasing foreign investment in Madagascar consistent with the Government’s Plan D’Emergence.
Compared to our strong trade relationship, private investment by American companies remains limited in Madagascar.
Yet, in recent times, it is private sector investment that makes by far the largest contributions to financing for development around the world.
This rapidly growing source of development financing – sometimes supported by official donor assistance such as sovereign guarantees and other credit enhancements – is a contrast to traditional donor assistance which has not increased in many years.
Therefore, our second panel today, moderated by the American Chamber of Commerce in Madagascar, will explore how Madagascar and the United States could increase our trade and investment.
After lunch, we will return with a panel moderated by our U.S. Embassy Economic Officer, Paul Colombini, that will explain ways the United States government is increasing trade and investment with Madagascar.
I am proud to announce that the U.S. Development Finance Corporation or DFC, together with the U.S. Foreign Commercial Service and the USAID Southern Africa Buy-in Program, have all sent representatives here today to present their programs to promote trade and investment in Madagascar.
Finally, I would like to thank the Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Consumption for organizing and moderating our last panel today. This panel will explore four priority sectors for U.S. trade and investment in Madagascar’s new National AGOA Strategy: textiles, handcrafts, specialty foods, and essential oils.
This will be a very full day of discussions.
I wish you a productive day and look forward to seeing you again at the closing ceremony this afternoon.