Remarks for Ambassador’s Participation in the Opening Remarks of
The Good Governance of the Private Sector Conference
Co-hosted by the U.S. Embassy and CIPE
March 6, 2019, at 3:00pm
Delivered in French
- Thank you all for coming. When we built this embassy, we designed this room to be used for events exactly like this, and it pleases me that we are all gathered here to talk about good governance of the private sector. I am very pleased that the embassy is partnering with our good friends from the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) – a group that has done excellent work in many countries around the world to promote economic and political freedom.
- Since I arrived in Mauritania a little over a year ago, I have been preaching one theme: “trade, not aid.” It rhymes and has a little more punch in English, but it essentially means that Mauritania and the United States should be working towards a future when our relationship is defined more by the level of trade and investment, and less by the amount of foreign assistance.
- Since 2014, Mauritania has been steadily improving in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Report. Since 2015, Mauritania has seen an unprecedented level of foreign investment.
- In 2022, this country will see its first revenue from the Tortue natural gas field to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars per year; and at this very moment, five major oil companies are exploring offshore to find the next big oil deposit. This is just in the hydrocarbon sector.
- In other words, Mauritania has huge economic potential.
- So, who is responsible to ensure that Mauritania is a good steward of these revenues, programs, and investments?
- You are. You, the student; you, the businessperson; you, the homemaker; you, the government official; you, the citizen.
- You see, fighting corruption and demanding good governance is not just the job of the government. It requires the private sector and civil society as well.
- I commend President Aziz and his regime for taking positive steps in this fight and putting together the legal framework to address this problem. As the country moves towards electing a new president, it will be important to continue this progress. The building blocks are there. Now is the time to implement and enforce the finer points.
- As U.S. Ambassador, I cannot speak on behalf of American companies. However, as a diplomat who has spent the majority of his career focused on economic issues and assisting American companies across the globe, I can tell you what American companies look for before they make an investment in a foreign market:
- A transparent tax system and a government that properly uses government revenues to the benefit of their people;
- A solid legal framework for disputes that is uniformly and fairly applied; and
- The ability to engage with local partners based on merit and business need – not on political connections.
- Corruption is a practice that has existed since man first stood on two feet.
- In the United States, we continue to battle this scourge, and indeed, it is a topic that has made its way into our national headlines as of late. But that’s just it: it is in the national headlines. People are talking about it, demanding justice, and working to ensure it does not happen again.
- No one disputes that Mauritania is rich in natural resources, but there is one resource – its largest and most important resource – that remains untapped: its people.
- In closing, I leave you with this thought: Who is going to be responsible to ensure that current and future revenues are invested in this untapped and most important resource?
- Thank you.