How would you describe the current relationship between Algeria and the United States?
BAALI: In fact, I believe the relations between Algeria and the United States have never been as close, strong, and solid as they are today. We have been able to develop this relationship in a very strong way over the last 4 to 5 years. As an example, last year, we had an intense diplomatic ballet between Algiers and Washington. The Secretary of State went twice to Algiers and the Deputy Secretary of State went to Algeria as well. We had our Ministers of Foreign Affairs and of African Affairs visit Washington. In October, we launched the US-Algerian Dialogue with the first session taking place here in Washington and next year’s session taking place in Algiers in November. This means that we are now approaching our bilateral relations in a comprehensive, coordinated, and coherent manner. This strategic dialogue encompasses economy, politics, security, and social cultural affairs, and that will give us the opportunity to review our relations every year.
Where are there opportunities for further business integration between the United States and Algeria?
BAALI: The energy sector has always been a part of our bilateral economic relations. But there are other sectors now where US companies can invest and conduct business in Algeria. Algeria has allocated $286bn between 2010 and 2014 to some very important infrastructure and development projects. So US firms have a real opportunity to invest in construction, public works, and health care. They are going now in high numbers to Algeria to take advantage of these opportunities.
What is the energy sector’s contribution to Algeria’s GDP?
BAALI: The contribution of the energy sector to the Algerian GDP is about 37% now. It used to be a bit higher in the past, but we have been able to develop other economic sectors over the past few years. So we have reduced the contribution of the energy sector to the GDP. However, I believe that the energy sector will continue to play a very important role into the future.
Where do current trade levels between the US and Algeria stand?
BAALI: Trade has been oscillating between $17bn and $18bn per year, which makes the Unites States our first trading partner in the world. This trade could expand further. As I have said, there are new opportunities for trade for both sides. So I think in the future we will see an expansion of the volume of goods traded between the two countries.
Trade has been oscillating between $17bn and $18bn per year, which makes the Unites States our first trading partner in the world. This trade could expand further.
What are your personal foreign relations goals in this post?
BAALI: I am ambitious for my country and for our bilateral relations. I think we can do better than what we have done so far. I am already very pleased with what we have been able to achieve. I was speaking earlier about this US-Algerian Strategic Dialogue, and this is really the coronation of the efforts that we deployed during the last 4 years. We want to make sure the relations between Algeria and the US are not limited to energy or limited to security, but encompass as many sectors as possible and are dealt with in a coordinated and integrated manner. But we can certainly do better. The areas I would like to invest more effort, time, and energy into are the cultural, scientific, and technological areas, where I believe we can benefit a great deal from the United States.