ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast (AP) _ Following through on Washington's pledge to increase economic involvement with Africa, Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin signed an investment incentive agreement with the Ivory Coast Sunday.

The agreement, which was also signed by Ivorian Prime Minister Daniel Kablan Duncan, aims to simplify procedures in the Ivory Coast for potential U.S. investors.

``We will do our best to improve the situation in Cote d'Ivoire in order to attract more U.S. companies,'' Duncan said, using the French name for his country.

The United States is trying to encourage more private sector investment in the Ivory Coast, but this West African country's developing justice system has been blamed for creating barriers to free and fair investment. Investors in the past have complained they have little protection from arbitrary regulation and corrupt government officials.

Rubin lauded the agreement, saying it would help encourage investment. ``It represents the commitment by the government of Cote d'Ivoire to a market economy,'' he said.

Rubin's stop in the Ivory Coast is his first on a four-country visit to Africa that includes visits to South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique and Kenya. Rubin said he plans to focus on economic conditions, developing financial markets and attracting private capital.