U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia
at the launch of CIPE Regional Office
Sheraton Hotel, Addis Ababa
October 25, 2018
(As prepared for delivery)
I’m honored to be here tonight to help celebrate an exciting new milestone in Ethiopia’s reform efforts, and yet another milestone in the United States’ support for those reforms.
Tonight, we celebrate the launch of a new regional office here in Addis Ababa for the Center for International Private Enterprise.
CIPE [SIPE] is one of the four core institutes of the National Endowment for Democracy, a non-governmental institution that’s largely funded by the United States Congress to support democracy around the world.
CIPE’s specific mission is to promote the mutually reinforcing connections between democracy and robust private sector activity.
CIPE’s fundamental premise — that political freedom and economic freedom are inextricably linked — is extraordinarily relevant to supporting Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed’s commitment to provide the fullest political and economic opportunity for all of Ethiopia’s citizens.
CIPE’s mission highlights the importance to democratic institutions of creating an environment where business can thrive.
A supportive business environment, in turn, is essential to attracting the kinds of commercial activity that foster large-scale job creation, meaningful technology transfer, training and capacity-building for workers, responsible environmental standards, fair labor practices, and win-win outcomes for both businesses and the people of Ethiopia.
It’s a testament to the compelling nature of Dr. Abiy’s reform agenda that CIPE is setting up shop, here and now, in Addis Ababa.
In August, CIPE and the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs signed a memorandum of understanding that reflects the strong commitment of both parties to supporting economic and democratic reforms.
CIPE’s new regional office will allow it to enhance its activities in Ethiopia and to build upon its past successes, which have focused since 2011 on strengthening Ethiopian chambers of commerce.
During that time, CIPE has partnered with the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Associations to support more than fifty member organizations across the country, while providing training to over five hundred members.
We look forward to seeing much more from CIPE in the days ahead, and the timing couldn’t be better.
With Ethiopia’s youth accounting for over two-thirds of the population, pressures for job creation and economic opportunities will only grow.
Prime Minister Abiy has highlighted the need for significant economic reform to meet these rising demands, and CIPE, and the organizations it supports, can play a key role in that effort.
In the end, private sector businesses generally know what’s best for accelerating private sector growth.
Ethiopia’s exciting new emphasis on free-market economics can only benefit from the perspectives of people who are experts at paving the way for the kinds of broad-based economic growth that can tap into the tremendous potential of Ethiopia’s young people.
Business associations can play a constructive role in Ethiopia’s broader society as well, by encouraging sustainability and corporate social responsibility.
This is an area where the United States can add significant value.
One American company working in Ethiopia, PVH, just received the U.S. Secretary of State’s worldwide Award for Corporate Excellence, recognizing PVH’s commitment at the Hawassa Industrial Park to minimizing its environmental footprint, ensuring worker well-being, and investing in the surrounding community.
We need to hold all businesses to high standards of ethical practices and social responsibility.
We’re right to expect them to focus on more than just their bottom lines.
And Ethiopia should be as unyielding as any other country in insisting on this.
As with all investments in Ethiopia that are supported by the U.S. Government and people, the increased engagement from CIPE is an investment in all Ethiopians.
By helping to strengthen chambers of commerce and other economic and democratic institutions, CIPE will be promoting the kinds of economic opportunity that will allow all Ethiopians to benefit from sustainable economic growth and rising prosperity.
I know that everyone in this room supports that vision.
I also know that everyone here tonight joins me in welcoming CIPE to Ethiopia, and shares my enthusiasm for the exciting things to come.