Anthony Carroll, a Washington lawyer, trade expert and businessman who has had a long association with South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa more broadly, is being strongly tipped to become the next US ambassador to Pretoria. By PETER FABRICIUS.
Anthony Carroll is vice president at Manchester Trade, an international business advisory company in Washington, and has had 40 years of experience working in Africa, especially Southern Africa. He would bring a strong business focus to US-South Africa relations if President Donald Trump did choose him as the next ambassador, to replace former President Barack Obama’s ambassador, Patrick Gaspard, who left Pretoria early this year.
Carroll has worked on many US-Africa commercial issues and was an early proponent and architect of the keystone African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) which gives eligible African countries duty-free access to the US market.
His candidacy for the Pretoria job has been supported by several influential people in both countries. Whitey Basson, chief of South Africa’s Shoprite retain chain, said, “Tony Carroll is in my opinion one of the most knowledgeable and influential advisers on investment and political/socio-economic stability of countries on the African continent.
“His in-depth studies and association with policy-makers on the continent is not only beneficial to his client base but should also be recognised by the USA Government as he constantly promotes trade with the African Continent.”
Former US ambassador to SA Cameron Hume also punted Carroll, saying, “I cannot imagine a better choice. Tony Carroll actually knows South Africa. He has served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Botswana and worked in previous Republican administrations. He knows the mining industry inside and out, and is a foremost consultant on trade.”
And Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille also commended him for the job, saying, “I have known Tony for many years and he has always been a good friend of South Africa. He always played an instrumental role in bringing the Mining Indaba and encouraging companies to invest in Cape Town.
“He has always been a good ‘ambassador’ for us and we look forward to working with him and wish him the best of luck.”
In testimony to the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee last month Carroll urged legislators to give strong government support to US companies to increase trade and investment with Africa.
This included support to US government agencies such as EXIM, the Export-Import Bank which gives US companies export credit, OPIC, which helps US companies invest in emerging markets, and the Foreign Agricultural Service which helps US farmers and agricultural companies sell their products abroad.
Such agencies are not popular with more radical Republicans who believe in reducing the role of government. Carroll said that in a perfect world they would not be necessary. “But we do not live in a perfect world,” he added.
He pointed out that while EXIM, for example, had provided $10-billion in export credit in 2015, the Chinese government had provided $500-billion export credit to its companies.
Carroll also urged strong support for AGOA which is sometimes criticised by American business because it allows African imports into the US quota and duty-free, but does not give reciprocal access for US exports into African markets.
Carroll pointed out, though, that AGOA was helping both sides. He said while non-petroleum US imports from AGOA countries had risen 75% between 2000 (when AGOA came into force) and 2016, US exports to AGOA countries had risen 130% – so America’s non-petroleum trade balance with Africa had improved from a deficit to a surplus.
Meanwhile, though, Carroll said AGOA had created 60,000 direct jobs and 100,000 indirect jobs in South Africa, one of the major beneficiaries of the preferential deal.
Carroll first came to southern Africa as a Peace Corps volunteer in Botswana in 1976. Later, as chairman of the Africa Law Committee of the American Bar Association, he worked with the courts, professional bar associations and universities in South Africa to further reconciliation. Carroll also recruited leading young South African lawyers to participate in the American Bar Association’s international lawyers exchange programme.
After the transition from apartheid, Carroll became more involved in economic development in South Africa, including identifying opportunities for foreign direct investment in three South African provinces.
In 1994 he helped launch the African Mining Indaba which has become the largest annual industrial conference in Africa.
He is a founding director and shareholder of Acorus Capital, a private equity fund that invests in US and Africa companies, and has advised US companies, business associations, foundations and universities on doing business in South Africa.
He has been a director of the US-South Africa Business Council and has been active in the US Chamber of Commerce Africa Center and the Corporate Council on Africa’s South Africa Working Group.
He has also been a senior associate in the Africa programme at Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and is an adjunct professor in Africa Studies at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies.
He has been an adviser to EXIM, OPIC, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) – which provides US aid to developing countries – and to the US Trade Representative.(USTR) the government agency which sets trade policy. DM
Photo: Anthony Carroll (photo supplied)
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