Statement by Assistant to the President for Press Relations Fitzwater Announcing the Sub-Saharan Africa Assistance Initiative

March 11, 1987

Today the President is announcing an initiative to help end hunger in sub-Saharan Africa by establishing a common, long-term goal for all U.S. economic programs and policies in sub-Saharan Africa: to end hunger in the region through economic growth, policy reform, and private sector development. The United States will also seek to promote donor coordination on comprehensive structural adjustment as well as on assistance programs, and will continue its efforts to encourage the constructive involvement of the U.S. private sector in promoting African economic growth.

Last May, at the U.N. General Assembly Special Session on the Critical Economic Situation in Africa, African leaders committed themselves to economic policy reforms designed to unleash the energies of their productive sectors, and requested donors to review the quality of their assistance programs in order to further this goal. The United States intends to respond to the Africans' request. Their commitment to recovery and reform deserves our support. While Africa has recovered from the 1984 - 85 famine, its economic situation remains precarious, and the threat of famine and the reality of poverty continue to cloud Africa's future.

Last September the President established a White House task force to lead an interdepartmental review of U.S. economic policies and programs for sub-Saharan Africa. The task force, jointly chaired by the National Security Council staff and the White House Office of Policy Development, included the Departments of State, Treasury, Agriculture, Commerce, and Defense; the Office of Management and Budget; the Agency for International Development; the Central Intelligence Agency; the U.S. Trade Representative; the U.S. Information Agency; the Peace Corps; and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. The task force has completed its work and has recommended a program of action:

-- Donor countries should negotiate through the existing IMF/World Bank coordination process framework agreements with each sub-Saharan African country to establish long-term structural adjustment and reform programs.

-- A separate budget account should be created for U.S. bilateral assistance to Africa in order to focus better on rewarding economic performance and increasing the flexibility of U.S. assistance programs for incentive economic reforms and private sector development.

-- New efforts should be made to address Africa's heavy debt burden, such as through strengthening multilateral arrangements.

-- U.S. food assistance programs should stress production incentives for recipient governments, communities, and individuals to reinforce economic reform and productivity.

-- Continued and improved African access to world markets should be promoted to reward good performance and to enable African countries to earn their way toward economic growth.

-- The U.S. private sector should be mobilized to complement African and donor efforts through expanded private, voluntary, and corporate involvement of a humanitarian and business nature.

-- A high-level interagency coordinating committee will be created to ensure that all U.S. activities, programs, and policies for sub-Saharan Africa are fully consistent with these policy goals.

The preliminary work of this task force is reflected in proposals already presented in the President's FY 1988 budget submission, as noted in the legislative message he submitted to accompany the State of the Union Address. In an era of scarce aid resources, we have no responsible alternative but to maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of our assistance programs and to encourage recipient countries own efforts to promote productivity and growth. To do otherwise would be to risk perpetuating dependency.

The African countries have made a commitment to economic reform and structural adjustment. The world community committed itself to help Africa achieve these objectives. The President intends to work closely with the 100th Congress in a bipartisan spirit to pursue a goal which he knows is shared by all Americans.