Office of the Press Secretary
(Johannesburg, South Africa)
For Immediate Release March 28, 1998
The Ron Brown Commercial Center, operated and funded by the
Department of Commerce, is one of the only four Commercial Centers
worldwide. The center, in Johannesburg, will provide support for
American companies looking to enter or expand into the sub-Saharan
African market. It will promote export through a range of support
programs. The Commercial Center also will serve as a base for other
agencies such as the Export-Import Bank, the Trade Development Agency
and USTR to expand their assistance to business. The Center is staffed
by three Foreign Commercial Service officers, an American administrator
and 17 local staff.
An internet-linked commercial information resource center is
staffed to answer trade-related queries from U.S. and African
businesses and will serve as a repository for economic and commercial
reports from State Department officers stationed throughout Africa.
At the dedication of the Ron Brown Commercial Center, the
President will announce several new initiatives and enhancements to his
existing Partnership for Economic Growth and Opportunity. These
Greater Market Access
all sub-Saharan African countries eligible for the U.S.
Generalized System of Preferences program (GSP) will be able to
avail themselves of several of the Partnership's programs;
additional support will be provided to countries pursuing
aggressive, growth-oriented economic reforms;
further substantially enhanced access to the U.S. markets for
products from Africa's strongest reformers will be granted through
rapid passage of the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which the
Targeted and Enhanced Assistance
the President has requested an additional $30 million for
technical assistance and support programs;
the Administration will work with Congress to restore
development assistance to Africa to its historical high water mark;
we will establish an endowment in conjunction with the Ronald H.
Brown Foundation to help young Africans pursue internships with
American companies and gain technical expertise.
Spurring Private Investment
OPIC has established three funds for Africa -- a fund of $120
million for southern Africa, a second fund $150 million for all of
Africa and a third infrastructure fund of up to $500 million (for
roads, ports, bridges, telecommunications and investment in womenowned
businesses and micro-enterprises).
Enhanced Debt Relief
the President has requested an additional $35 million for
bilateral concessional debt relief;
we have secured, with our G-7 partners, a commitment from the
World Bank to increase lending to Africa by $1.1 billion this year
and we will engage G-7 partners this year on African debt relief
Increasing Bilateral Trade Ties
the President will host an economic Summit for the heads of
state of reforming nations;
we will host the first annual ministerial-level Economic
Cooperation Forum later this year.