U.S. Ambassador to Mali Mr. Paul A. Folmsbee Remarks – 2018 BORDERLESS ALLIANCE ANNUAL CONFERENCE

May 9th, 2018

(As prepared)

• Honorable Minister of Trade of Mali
• Honorable Federal Minister of Transport of Nigeria
• Honorable Members of the Government of Mali
• Members of the Diplomatic Corps
• Representatives of ECOWAS and UEMOA Commissions
• President of ETLS Task Force
• President and Members of the Borderless Alliance
• Trade and Transport stakeholders in West Africa
• Members of the Press
• Ladies and Gentlemen

On behalf of the U.S. Embassy, I am pleased to participate in this seventh annual Borderless Alliance conference. The Borderless Alliance Conference continues to serve as the premier platform for facilitating the interaction and engagement of all industry players in trade and transport facilitation across West Africa.
As a landlocked country, businesses here in Mali certainly appreciate the need for forums such as this to advance the free movement of goods across the region. Improving the efficiency of transport corridors linking Mali to Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso – as well as other neighboring countries – increases the competitiveness of Malian exports and supports the livelihoods of large numbers of traders, firms, farmers and transporters.
Efficient transport corridors open opportunities to drive new investments and create jobs that are critical for the growing number of youth entering the workforce every year.
The economic opportunities for the region are enormous. The population of West Africa is anticipated to more than double over the next 30 years. GDP per capita in the ECOWAS region has grown at an average annual rate of approximately 3.8% from 2000-2015 and the emerging middle class in the region now stands at 70 million people. Supplying these rapidly growing markets is a new business opportunity – particularly if the region can deliver on breaking down the barriers to free movement of goods. The private sector will make investments and be a catalyzing force for growth and development, if the investment climate is favorable.
A world-class transport and logistics system will require the coordinated efforts of organizations like the Borderless Alliance. This means in partnership with ECOWAS, national governments and the private sector – to tackle the complex issues of check-points, arduous trade procedures, lack of joint border inspections, national customs systems that currently do not communicate with each other, and the unnecessary delays and high fees that make life difficult for the regions’ traders and transporters.
The U.S. government has been proud to partner with Borderless Alliance since its inception. We will continue to work closely with ECOWAS, UEMOA, national governments and other partners to fully achieve the vision of a single regional market as defined by the free movement of goods across borders.
Mr. Chairman, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, we thank the Government of Mali and the Borderless Alliance for hosting and convening this important meeting. The U.S. government stands ready to partner with all stakeholders in the region to break down barriers to trade.

Thank you.