Ambassador McCarter’s Remarks
Caterpillar Launch of Hex Excavators
March 14, 2018
As prepared for delivery
Habari zenu. Good evening.
Before I begin my remarks, I would like to take a moment to remember those who perished in the terrible plane crash in Ethiopia this past Sunday. Countless people are mourning the loss of friends and loved ones while the world has lost the energy and talents of the 157 people aboard that flight. Carnivore restaurant also lost a member of their family. Jonathan Seex [Seeks], the CEO of Carnivore’s parent company Tamarind Group was a passenger on board that morning. I offer my sincere condolences to the friends, family and colleagues of Jonathan and to all those we lost. I would now like to ask that we observe a moment of silence in their honor.
[MOMENT OF SILENCE]
Thank you. I am very pleased to be here tonight with you for this exciting product launch, and to celebrate Caterpillar’s long business ties in Kenya.
Earlier this week it was my great privilege to present my credentials to President Kenyatta and receive an official welcome to Kenya. It’s an honor for me to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Kenya, and represent my country in a place that has been a second home to me for many years of my life.
It’s fitting too that my first official remarks as Ambassador are in support of the U.S.-Kenya commercial and trade relationship, in support of private sector solutions, and of course in support of Caterpillar, which is headquartered in my home state, the great state of Illinois!
Allow me to say a few words on the importance of the United States-Kenya relationship. Last year, President Trump and President Kenyatta elevated our 55-year relationship to a strategic partnership. The United States currently invests close to 100 billion Kenyan Shillings annually in assistance to Kenya in a wide range of areas, including health care, agriculture, education and security.
But that assistance pales in comparison to the investments the private sector wants to and is already committing in Kenya. Economic prosperity is essential to Kenya’s future. My top priority in the bilateral economic and commercial relationship is supporting expanded trade and investment ties between our two countries.
The Private Sector Investor’s needs are actually very simple. They need a predictable environment. They are not asking for a risk free environment. They know there are risks. They just want to be able to assess what the cost will be to overcome the risk. I envision a Kenya that is peaceful, safe from terrorist threats, free of corruption, strengthened by dependable institutions of law and order, and prosperous because of investments like the one we are recognizing today.
A responsibly regulated, free, fair, and open market is the only way to unlock Kenya’s potential and give Kenyans the future they deserve. Both our presidents and our citizens are watching us closely to ensure the promise of our new strategic partnership and those investments – public and private – are realized. In the journey to self-reliance and increased prosperity, private sector-led growth is a critical component to broadening our trade ties.
The United States is ready to be, and should be, your partner of choice. The U.S. private sector can lead the way with market-driven, sustainable development solutions. Through my experience as a former business-owner, I know that U.S. companies deliver world leading technologies and innovation able to support the Big Four and economic growth. U.S. companies offer capacity-building and sustainable solutions that benefit local communities and work force. U.S. companies know that hiring Kenyans to manage, lead, and do the skilled work is the best means to long-term profitability through a trained, skilled, and educated labor force prepared to become leaders themselves.
U.S. companies bring transparency and standards critical in the fight against corruption. Together, we can take a bold stand against the corruption that is robbing Kenyans of the benefits of a robust economy. The United States is Kenya’s strong partner in this fight, but every Kenyan needs to stand and reject corruption at every level. U.S. companies show how workers, managers, and consumers all benefit and prosper when deals and business are done openly and fairly.
Caterpillar is an excellent example. In Africa, Caterpillar tractors have tamed harsh terrain for more than 100 years. Caterpillar arrived in Kenya in 1925 and today has two service centers, more than 30 service engineers and 18 field service vehicles, all with the goal of ensuring customer satisfaction in Kenya. All together, Caterpillar through their distributor Mantrac, employs more than 100 staff in Kenya at all levels of the organization, enabling skills and leadership building to remain in Kenya.
The success of Caterpillar in Kenya and around the world demonstrates how U.S. companies do more than just build successful products. Caterpillar is making business and corporate social responsibility (CSR) investments in micro-grids, entrepreneurship centers for women, water and energy, education, and training. Caterpillar is making a difference on Kenyan roads and in Kenyan communities and families.
Thank you for inviting me this evening to celebrate Caterpillar’s continuous drive for excellence and innovation with the launch of the new generation of Caterpillar Hex Excavators. Congratulations to Caterpillar, Caterpillar’s customers, and Kenya for helping pave the way to our countries’ shared growth and prosperity. Together, we will build a better Kenya.
Asanteni sana. Thank you.