Burkina Faso - US Relations
U.S. relations with Burkina Faso are excellent. Military ties between the U.S. and Burkina are strengthening. Burkina Faso is a partner in the Africa Contingency Operations Training and Assistance (ACOTA) program. The United States has already trained three 750-man battalions for peace support operations in Darfur. Using a small Department of Defense International Military Education and Training (IMET) budget, the Embassy has established an English-language laboratory at a local military base, and has maximized attendance at the officer basic courses in the U.S. Representatives from the Ministries of Defense, Security, Foreign Affairs, and Justice and civil society have attended Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS) seminars in the U.S. and regionally.
The Government of Burkina Faso has eagerly accepted additional training, especially in counterterrorism and humanitarian assistance, and is contributing to the support of U.S. efforts in the Sahel. Burkina has recently become a member of the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership (TSCTP) and USAID has begun TSCTP activities. In May 2010, Burkina Faso hosted Flintlock, a multilateral military exercise.
In addition to regional peace and stability, U.S. interests in Burkina are to promote continued democratization and greater respect for human rights and to encourage sustainable economic development. In 2005, Burkina Faso and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) signed a $12 million Threshold Country Program to build schools and increase girls' enrollment rates. In July 2008, Burkina Faso signed a 5-year compact for $480.9 million with MCC. The compact program will combat poverty by building roads, improving rural land governance, aiding farmers with agricultural development and irrigation projects, and a second phase of the above-mentioned girls’ primary education program. The signing of this MCC Compact Program made the United States Burkina Faso’s largest bilateral donor. Bilateral U.S. assistance in fiscal year 2011 was $22.25 million.
The Peace Corps entered Burkina Faso in 1967. The Peace Corps briefly ceased operations in Burkina Faso in 1987 due to host government development goals no longer aligning with the Peace Corps’ mission. However, the Peace Corps was invited back in 1995 to begin a community health project, followed by the establishment of education and small enterprise development projects.
One year later, the Peace Corps established a secondary education project, and in 2003, Peace Corps introduced a small-enterprise development project to complement the government's poverty reduction and private sector promotional programs. In 2005, the Government of Burkina Faso asked for assistance to increase the level of girls' access to education, which later became the focus of the MCC’s Threshold Compact with Burkina Faso.
Burkinabè communities have hosted over 2,100 Peace Corps Volunteers since 1967, carrying out meaningful development work built upon a strong foundation of cross-cultural understanding, community ownership, and the individual and collective strengths of the communities served. In 2010, the Peace Corps introduced an environmental component to its programming. This sector encompasses food security and the environment by promoting gardening, tree planting, and growing crops for income generation. All Peace Corps Volunteers, regardless of sector, are trained in how to promote awareness of HIV/AIDS, malaria prevention, the environment, hygiene and clean water, and gender and youth development. Currently there are 175 Peace Corps Volunteers serving in Burkina Faso.
U.S. trade with Burkina Faso in 2009 totaled $28 million: $25.8 million in U.S. exports (a 5% increase over 2008 data) and $2.1 million in Burkinabe exports (a 262% increase over 2008). Top U.S. exports included agricultural products ($9 million), machinery ($7 million), donations and low value shipments ($2 million), rubber ($2 million), and vehicles ($2 million).
Top U.S. imports were agricultural products ($280,000), vehicles ($218,000) and precious stones ($202,000). Investment possibilities exist, especially in Burkina’s mining and communications sectors. Limited Brands/Victoria’s Secret is looking to expand the quantity, and improve the quality and value, of organic cotton it has imported from Burkina since 2009 (currently only 1% of the market), as well as to improve significantly the livelihoods of the primarily women farmers.
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