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 Home > News & Policies > June 2003

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
June 26, 2003

President Bush Outlines his Agenda for U.S. - African Relations
Remarks by the President to the Corporate Council on Africa's U.S.-Africa Business Summit
Washington Hilton Hotel
Washington, D.C.

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12:13 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Please be seated. Thanks for the warm welcome. It is my honor to be here with the entrepreneurs and scholars who are committed to building a hopeful future for Africa. I'm honored to be with so many distinguished African leaders who know that market reforms and open trade can lift every nation on every continent.

President George W. Bush addresses the Corporate Council on Africa's U.S.- Africa Business Summit in Washington, D.C., Thursday, June 27, 2003. "All of us here today share some basic beliefs. We believe that growth and prosperity in Africa will contribute to the growth and prosperity of the world. We believe that human suffering in Africa creates moral responsibilities for people everywhere. We believe that this can be a decade of unprecedented advancement for freedom and hope and healing and peace across the African continent," President Bush said.  White House photo by Paul Morse All of us here today share some basic beliefs. We believe that growth and prosperity in Africa will contribute to the growth and prosperity of the world. We believe that human suffering in Africa creates moral responsibilities for people everywhere. We believe that this can be a decade of unprecedented advancement for freedom and hope and healing and peace across the African continent. That's what we believe.

In eleven days I leave for Africa, and I will carry a message -- (applause.) And I will carry this message: The United States believes in the great potential of Africa. (Applause.) We also understand the problems of Africa. And this nation is fully engaged in a broad, concerted effort to help Africans find peace, to fight disease, to build prosperity, and to improve their own lives.

I want to thank Stephen for his invitation. And I want to thank those involved with the Corporate Council on Africa. I appreciate so very much Frank Fountain, the Chairman; Anita Henri, the Vice President. I want to thank all the board members who are here. I want to thank you and your -- if you're not a CEO, thank your CEOs of the companies you represent for not only serving our nation by helping to create jobs, but serving our nation by helping creating more compassionate and hopeful countries in the continent of Africa.

I want to thank very much Ambassador Robert Perry, who is a Special Advisor to the President on these matters. I want to thank the senior African government officials here, but I particularly want to welcome the African heads of state and the heads of government who are with us today. It was my honor to have the traditional photo op. But besides smiling for the cameras, I was smiling to see people who I had known before, and I was so appreciative that you all took time to fly here to our country. And our country extends a warm welcome, and we hope you have a great stay.

I'm honored that President Chissano of Mozambique is here. After all, he is the incoming President of the African Union. And I'm pleased to see President Mogae of Botswana. The reason so is that he has graciously extended me and my delegation an invitation to visit his country, an invitation I have accepted. (Applause.) Botswana is a stable democracy; was one of the strongest economies of all of Africa. And I look forward to my trip. (Applause.)

I'll go to Senegal and see West Africa's longest-standing democracy. (Applause.) A country with a vibrant civil society and a growing independent media. I look forward to going to South Africa, where I'll meet with elected leaders who are firmly committed to economic reforms in a nation that has become a major force for regional peace and stability. (Applause.) I'm looking forward to my trip to Uganda -- (applause) -- where the government's visionary policies have brought about the most dramatic decline in the rate of HIV infection of any country in the world. (Applause.)

And finally, I'll be going to Nigeria -- (applause) -- a multiethnic society that is consolidating civilian rule, is developing its vast resources, and is helping its African neighbors keep the peace. (Applause.)

My trip should signal that I am optimistic about the future of the continent of Africa. After all, there's a generation of leaders who now understand the power of economic liberty and the necessity for global commerce. I also understand that freedom and prosperity are not achieved overnight. Yet the 48 nations of Sub-Saharan Africa have an historic opportunity to grow in trade, and to grow in freedom and stability, and most importantly, to grow in hope. (Applause.)

On the path to freedom, and with the friendship of the United States and other nations, Africa will rise, and Africa will prosper. (Applause.)

This is a long-term commitment. And I know there are serious obstacles to overcome. Introducing democracy is hard in any society. It's much harder in a society torn by war, or held back by corruption. The promise of free markets means little when millions are illiterate and hungry, or dying from a preventable disease. It is Africans who will overcome these problems. Yet the United States of America and other nations will stand beside them. We will work as partners in advancing the security and the health and the prosperity of the African peoples. (Applause.)

The first great goal in our partnership with Africa is to help establish peace and security across the continent. Many thousands of African men and women and children are killed every year in regional wars. These wars are often encouraged by regimes that give weapons and refuge to rebel groups fighting in neighboring countries. The cycle of attack and escalation is reckless, it is destructive, and it must be ended. (Applause.)

In Congo, nine countries took part in a five-year war that brought death to millions. Now the parties to the conflict are moving to form a government of national unity, holding out the real possibility of peace. President Mbeki of South Africa deserves credit for his efforts to broker a peace agreement. (Applause.) All the Congo's neighbors have officially withdrawn their forces. Now I urge these governments to actively support the creation of an integrated national army and the establishment by June 30th of a transitional government.

The United States is working with the Congo and its neighbors to ensure the security and integrity of their borders. To encourage progress across all of Africa, we must build peace at the heart of Africa. (Applause.)

In Liberia, the United States strongly supports the cease-fire signed earlier this month. President Taylor needs to step down -- (applause) -- so that his country can be spared further bloodshed. All the parties in Liberia must pursue a comprehensive peace agreement. And the United States is working with regional governments to support those negotiations and to map out a secure transition to elections. We are determined to help the people of Liberia find the path to peace.

The United States is also pressing forward to help end Africa's longest-running civil war in Sudan, which has claimed an estimated 2 million lives over 20 years. Progress over this past year, aided by the leadership of Kenya, has brought us to the edge of peace. (Applause.) Now the north and south must finalize a just and comprehensive peace agreement, and the world must support it.

I've asked my Special Envoy for Peace in Sudan, former Senator John Danforth, to return to the region in two weeks. He will make clear that the only option on the table is peace. Both sides must now make their final commitment to peace and human rights, and end the suffering of Sudan. (Applause.)

The United States supports efforts by African governments to build effective peacekeeping forces. America is providing resources and logistical support to African Union peacekeeping forces in Burundi, and ECOWAS forces in the Ivory Coast. During my visit to South Africa, U.S. military forces will participate in a joint humanitarian and disaster relief training exercise with South African defense forces. Skilled and well-equipped peacekeeping forces are essential, because in the long run, Africans will keep the peace in Africa. (Applause.)

The United States is also working with African nations to fight terrorists wherever they are found. Africans from Casablanca to Nairobi, to Dar es Salaam have experienced firsthand the pain and the evil of terror. Kenya and other nations of Eastern Africa are suffering under a particularly serious threat, and we're working closely with those nations to end this threat.

Today I announced that the United States will devote a $100 million over the next 15 months to help countries in the region increase their own counter-terror efforts. (Applause.) We will work with Kenya and Ethiopia and Djibouti and Uganda and Tanzania to improve capabilities, such as air and seaport security, coastal and border patrols, computer databases to track terrorists, intelligence-sharing, and the means necessary to cut off terrorist financing.

Many African governments have the will to fight the war on terror, and we are thankful for that will. We will give them the tool and the resources to win the war on terror. (Applause.)

The second great goal of our partnership with Africa is to make the advantages of health and literacy widely available across the continent. And that work begins with the struggle against AIDS, which already affects nearly 30 million Africans.

As former President Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia has said, "We have conquered slavery, colonialism, and apartheid. We must now fight HIV-AIDS, the most deadly enemy we have ever faced." (Applause.) And he is right. And many others are fighting against this enemy. Yet my message today, and my message when I go to the continent, is you are not alone in the fight. (Applause.)

Under the law I signed last month, the United States Congress has authorized $15 billion over the next five years to fight AIDS abroad. (Applause.) That money will be used to support the Global AIDS Fund, as well as specially focusing on 14 African and Caribbean countries where the crisis is most severe. Overall, this expansion of America's efforts will prevent seven million new HIV infections, treat at least two million people with life-extending drugs and provide humane care for 10 million HIV-infected individuals and AIDS orphans.

This is one of the largest public health projects in history. America is proud to be a part of this cause, and we are absolutely determined to see it through until we have turned the tide against AIDS in Africa. (Applause.)

My administration is ready to start this vital work. Now the Congress must appropriate the money it promised. (Applause.) In 2004, this effort will require $2 billion, including $200 million for the Global Fund for AIDS and Other Infectious Diseases. Having passed the emergency fund for AIDS relief, Congress must now fully fund this life-saving initiative. (Applause.)

The health of Africa also depends on the defeat of hunger. Forty million Africans are now at risk of starvation. They face severe food shortages, or lack of clean drinking water. This year the United States will provide more than $800 million to address food emergencies in Africa. I've also asked Congress to provide $200 million new dollars for a Famine Fund, so that when the first signs of famine appear we can move quickly and save lives.

Yet the problem of hunger requires more than emergency measures. To help Africa become more self-sufficient in the production of food, I have proposed the initiative to end hunger in Africa. This initiative will help African countries to use new high-yield bio-tech crops and unleash the power of markets to dramatically increase agricultural productivity.

But there's a problem. There's a problem. At present, some governments are blocking the import of crops grown with biotechnology, which discourages African countries from producing and exporting these crops. The ban of these countries is unfounded; it is unscientific; it is undermining the agricultural future of Africa. And I urge them to stop this ban. (Applause.)

Nigeria's former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Hassan Adamu speaks for many in Africa. He speaks the truth. Here's what he said: "To deny desperate, hungry people the means to control their futures by presuming to know what is best for them is not only paternalistic, it is morally wrong." (Applause.)

Africa's progress also depends on the education of Africa's children. Forty-two million boys and girls across Sub-Sahara Africa are not even enrolled in schools. If Africa is to meet its full potential, these children must have the chance to study and learn. My administration is committing $200 million over five years to train more than 420,000 teachers in Africa, to provide scholarships for 250,000 -- (applause) -- to provide scholarship for 250,000 African girls, and to partner -- (applause) -- and to partner with Historically Black Colleges and Universities in America in bringing more than 4 million textbooks to African children. (Applause.)

Every country, every business, every private organization that cares about this continent must unite to give Africa's children the literacy and skills they need to build Africa's future. (Applause.)

The third great goal of our partnership with Africa is to help African nations develop vibrant, free economies through aid and trade. Wealthy nations have a responsibility to provide foreign aid. We have an equal duty to make sure that aid is effective, by rewarding countries that embrace reform and freedom. Too often in the past, development assistance has been squandered or used to prop up corrupt regimes. The world needs a new approach to foreign aid -- and America is leading the way with the Millennium Challenge Account.

Under my proposal, money will go to developing nations whose governments are committed to three broad strategies: First, they must rule justly. Second, they must invest in the health and education of their people. And third, they must have policies that encourage economic freedom. To fund this account, I've proposed a 50-percent increase in America's core development assistance over the next three years. And I urge the United States Congress to give full support to the Millennium Challenge Account. (Applause.)

Corrupt regimes that give nothing to their people deserve nothing from us. (Applause.) Governments that serve their people deserve our help, and we will provide that help.

Many African leaders are currently pledged to the path of political and economic reform. That shared commitment is expressed in the standards of NEPAD, the New Partnership for Africa's Development. Yet those standards are mocked by some on the continent, such as the leader of Zimbabwe, where the freedom and dignity of the nation is under assault. I urge all nations, including the nations of Africa, to encourage a return to democracy in Zimbabwe. (Applause.)

We can add to the prosperity of Africa through development assistance that encourages your reform. Yet aid alone is not enough. President Museveni of Uganda has put it well. "By itself," he says, "aid cannot transform societies. Only trade can foster the sustained economic growth necessary for such a transformation." (Applause.) He's right. The powerful combination of trade and open markets is history's proven method to defeat poverty on a large scale, to vastly improve health and education, to build a modern infrastructure while safeguarding the environment, and to spread the habits of liberty and enterprise that lead to self government.

Trade is the great engine of economic progress, the great engine of human progress. Yet Sub-Sahara Africa, with 11 percent of world's population, has less than 2 percent of the world's trade. The peoples of Africa have been left out long enough. The United States is committed to making the transforming power of trade available to all Africans.

Three years ago, Congress passed the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which gave greater access to American markets for African products. AGOA is proving the power of trade. Even with a weak global economy, AGOA countries' duty-free exports to the United States in 2002 were $9 billion. That's a 10-percent increase from 2001. From countries all across the continent of Africa, AGOA is helping to reform old economies, creating new jobs, is attracting new investment; most importantly, is offering hope to millions of Africans.

We must build on AGOA's success. Today, I call on the United States Congress to extend AGOA beyond 2008. (Applause.) We must extend AGOA beyond 2008 to give businesses the confidence to make long-term investments in Africa. (Applause.) At America's urging, the World Bank will provide more than $200 million over the next three years to support loans to small businesses in 10 African countries. (Applause.) These loans will give African entrepreneurs the capital they need to achieve their dreams.

Here's what we believe in America -- and it's true elsewhere: Ownership and independence are the hopes of men and women in every land. (Applause.)

To expand commerce between America and Africa, we're working towards a free trade agreement with the Southern African Customs Union. And in the global trade negotiations, we are pushing to open agricultural markets, reduce farm subsidies in wealthy nations, and to create new opportunities for African farmers. (Applause.)

I also urge African nations to lower their own trade barriers against each other's products. (Applause.) Just as America can do more to open its markets, so can the nations of Africa. (Applause.) Together we can ensure that all our citizens have access to the opportunities of markets around the globe.

The measures I've outlined today -- actions on security, and health, education, hunger, foreign aid, and global trade -- constitute a major focus of American foreign policy. America is committed to the success of Africa because we recognize a moral duty to bring hope where there is despair, and relief where there's suffering. America is committed to the success of Africa because we understand failed states spread instability and terror that threatens us all. America is committed to the success of Africa because the peoples of Africa have every right to live in freedom and dignity, and to share in the progress of our times. (Applause.)

The responsibilities we have accepted in Africa are consistent with the ideals that have always guided America and the world. Our nation has more than a set of interests; I believe we have a calling. For a century, America has acted to defend the peace, to liberate the oppressed, and to offer all mankind the promise of freedom in a better life. And today, as America fights the latest enemies of freedom, we will strive to expand the realm of freedom for the benefit of all nations.

The members of this council, with your energy and optimism, are bringing new opportunities to millions. I want to thank you for your efforts. I want to thank you for heart. I want to thank you for your vision.

May God bless the people on the continent of Africa. And may God continue to bless the United States of America. Thank you. (Applause.)

END 12:42 P.M. EDT