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US Secretary of State Calls for More US Investment in Zambia

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talks with Zambia's President Rupiah Banda during her visit to the newly opened University Teaching Hospital Pediatric Centre of Excellence, in Lusaka, Zambia, June 11, 2011
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talks with Zambia's President Rupiah Banda during her visit to the newly opened University Teaching Hospital Pediatric Centre of Excellence, in Lusaka, Zambia, June 11, 2011

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is calling for more American investment in Zambia. Secretary Clinton met with U.S. and Zambian business leaders.

Secretary Clinton says 11 consecutive years of economic growth indicates that Zambia is doing what is necessary to attract foreign investment.

“Business can't do it without a supportive government policy framework and governments can't do it without entrepreneurs and business people who are really going to take advantage of all of these opportunities,” she said.

Zambian Minister of Trade, Commerce, and Industry Felix Mutati says the government has cut the time it takes to register a business from 21 days to two hours.

“We have a market-driven policy framework where we have a liberal exchange rate. Bring in your money. You can take your money out. We protect your property and remain consistent on the commitments that we make to the investor. We think this is key to competitiveness,” he said.

Mutati and Clinton spoke at the launch of the American Chamber of Commerce in Zambia.

Greg Marchand, the chamber's founding president, says the group is bringing American entrepreneurs to Zambia to establish a platform for American investment.

“How does America do business in Africa? When you go talk to people in America, they really don't have a concept of how to do business here. So what we are trying to do is actually develop the model. You don't start a process or a project without a work plan. And you don't do that without a model of how you are going to be successful. So that is what we are working on here,” said Marchand.

Marchand says the chamber is recruiting graduate business student interns from the University of Chicago, Northwestern, and the University of Virginia.

“We bring over what we consider the new talent in American business and have them concentrate on projects that are going to allow further American investment in Africa,” he said.

Marchand opened his communications business in Zambia after comparing it with six other African countries in terms of politics, conflict, and currency.

“A business school is a safe environment. So I look at Zambia as a business school. It allows you to learn how to do business in Africa in a country that has no civil unrest. It's English-speaking. It's a banking center. It's a regional center for business in the southern African region outside of South Africa,” said the chamber's founding president.

Trade Minister Mutati says the strength of American business in Zambia attracts more outside investment.

“If the American brand is present in Zambia, then the conditions for investment are good," he said. "Then the whole framework of governance and institutions are taken for granted because if Citi says 'I'm there' if General Electric says 'I'm there' you don't need to explain to anybody what your business environment is. They are the ones who are going to talk for you. They will tell the story.”

Secretary Clinton says the growth of American business in Zambia is part of the Obama administration's approach to help developing countries chart their own future and ultimately end their need for aid altogether.

“We want a relationship of partnership not patronage, of sustainability not quick fixes. We want to establish a strong foundation to attract new investment, open new businesses,” she said.

Secretary Clinton came to Zambia for a forum on U.S. trade preferences under the African Growth and Opportunity Act. She continues this African trip with visits to Tanzania and Ethiopia.

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