Moving Africa from Aid to Trade

Oct 17, 2011

Africa satellite photoThe last couple years have focused on finalizing free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama, and rightfully so.  Their passage was a much needed boost to job creation in this country.  While a good start, those agreements alone won’t allow the United States to double exports over the next five years as both the president and the U.S. Chamber have called for.

Looking beyond congressional passage of the three FTAs, the United States must look at other markets to sell its goods and services.  Specifically it must look towards the developing world.  Africa is home to many of these markets and is seeing exceptional economic growth which is why the United States should aggressively pursue economic inroads throughout the continent.  This is why the U.S. Chamber and more than a half dozen American Chambers in Africa sent a letter to Congress today expressing their full support for increasing exports to the region.  The letter lays out a number of recommendations that would increase the competitiveness of U.S. goods and services in Africa. They are:

  • Ensure continued support for the Foreign Commercial Service across Africa.
  • Enhance U.S.-Africa investment and trade finance through institutions such as the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the U.S. Export-Import Bank, and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency.
  • Begin the process of negotiating free trade agreements with regional economic communities (REC).  
  • Promote aid management, encouraging the move from aid to trade.
  • Extend and make the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) permanent.

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