The Ron Brown Commercial Center, operated and funded by the Department ofCommerce, is one of the only four Commercial Centers worldwide. Thecenter, in Johannesburg, will provide support for American companieslooking to enter or expand into the sub-Saharan African market. It willpromote export through a range of support programs. The Commercial Centeralso will serve as a base for other agencies such as the Export-ImportBank, the Trade Development Agency and USTR to expand their assistance tobusiness. The Center is staffed by three Foreign Commercial Serviceofficers, an American administrator and 17 local staff.
An internet-linked commercial information resource center is staffed toanswer trade-related queries from U.S. and African businesses and willserve as a repository for economic and commercial reports from StateDepartment officers stationed throughout Africa.
At the dedication of the Ron Brown Commercial Center, the President willannounce several new initiatives and enhancements to his existingPartnership for Economic Growth and Opportunity. These include:
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 President supports.
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 millionfor southern Africa, a second fund $150 million for all of Africa and athird infrastructure fund of up to $500 million (for roads, ports, bridges,telecommunications and investment in women-owned businesses andmicro-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 issues.
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.
President and First Lady | Vice President and Mrs. Gore