The United States of America yesterday said she would not do business in countries that did not follow the rule of law, maintain ethical standards, abide by workplace safety, encourage workforce training and protect intellectual property.
Speaking in Lagos, the US Secretary of Commerce, Mrs. Penny Pritzker, said that these conditions would increase trust and confidence among international and local business leaders and encourage further investment.
Pritzker is leading 20 American companies on an energy business development trade mission to Ghana and Nigeria.
She noted that Nigeria had made impressive and important progress in recent years, by joining the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, and adopted new anti-corruption laws.
Pritzker, however, said that laws only operated on behalf of business and the people when they were enforced predictably and reliably.
According to her, businesses seeking to invest in agriculture, health care, transportation, tourism, information and communications technology and manufacturing must be able to operate free from unnecessary regulation, government interference and corruption.
She said: “Nigeria needs the active participation of business and civil society to successfully root out corruption. Nigeria should adopt the international best practice of providing whistleblower protections.
“Honest citizens who are willing to alert authorities to corruption as it is taking place are your best resources in this fight.
“The steps that government takes to counter corruption must be reinforced by predictable regulations that help companies not only enter the market, but support their ability to do good business.”
Pritzer explained that such conditions that promoted ease of doing businesses would open the country to more investment and innovation, as more companies succeeded in Nigeria, they would act as change agents.
She urged the country to implement its public procurement laws according to international best practices and to join the World Trade Organisation’s Government Procurement Agreement. Pritzker noted that the Nigerian government, business and civil society leaders could develop home grown solutions to these challenges and act as agents of change.
“Together, the US government, the Nigerian government, the business leaders and American companies that are committed to Nigeria can lay the foundation for prosperity, jobs and sustained economic growth.
“Fundamentally, I believe that together we can, must, and will move forward on all fronts – from strengthening our security, to ensuring that democracy can flourish, to spurring more trade, investment, and economic opportunity to benefit all of our citizens,” she added.
She also reiterated that the United States “is a committed partner in the country’s economic progress and will work with the country to promote opportunity and security, while also rooting out corruption.”
Pritzker stressed that the goal of the mission was to promote US exports and expand her companies’ presence in Africa by helping American firms launch or increase their business in the energy sector.
She said that the firms joining the mission had the expertise to help African countries develop and manage energy resources and systems as well as build out power generation, transmission and distribution.
“Already, the US government has committed $7bn toward Power Africa, and had secured additional commitments totalling $14bn from 35 private-sector partners.
“Simply put, Power Africa is designed to catalyse new financing and investments in energy solutions that will help Nigeria – and the five other countries that comprise Power Africa — provide reliable electricity to its citizens,” Pritzker said.