My special greetings to your excellency President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo and Minister Agapito Mba Mokuy. And let me extend my welcome and greetings to all our honored guests, including Ambassador Asquino and Ambassador Maye.
I’m delighted to be here today to conclude the new U.S.-Equatorial Guinea Open Skies Air Transport Agreement.
The United States Government has an unwavering commitment to Open Skies Agreements. The reasons are compelling: When air carriers can make their own decisions about routes, capacity, and pricing, everyone benefits. There’s more travel and trade between countries. That produces more jobs and economic growth. Consumers can make their decisions based on the merits of an air service – not its exclusiveness. And that encourages air carriers to be more affordable, more convenient, safer and more efficient.
Right now, we have 113 worldwide Open Skies agreements in place – and 25 of those are in Africa. With our Open Skies, we can extend that circle of participation to Equatorial Guinea – and build on the strong commercial ties we already have between our countries. So we sign this agreement with great anticipation, knowing that Equatorial Guinea has made significant strides forward on the economic front.
We believe that Equatorial Guinea’s engagement with U.S. aviation companies will be beneficial to both of our countries. Several new U.S.-manufactured aircraft will serve Equatorial Guinea’s airlines in coming years. And U.S. companies operating in Equatorial Guinea in other sectors have already demonstrated a commitment to be good corporate citizens, embracing transparency and respect for the rule of law, promoting high safety standards for workers, and making substantial investments in health, education, and the environment as part of our corporate social responsibility efforts.
By welcoming free competition in the aviation sector, and expanding international passenger and cargo flights between our countries, we can take our economic relationship to the next level – and build better futures for the people who really matter – our citizens.