News / Economy

Senator: US Losing Ground to China on Africa Trade, Investment

A Chinese engineer supervises at a construction site in Sudan's capital Khartoum (2012 photo)A Chinese engineer supervises at a construction site in Sudan's capital Khartoum (2012 photo)
x
A Chinese engineer supervises at a construction site in Sudan's capital Khartoum (2012 photo)
A Chinese engineer supervises at a construction site in Sudan's capital Khartoum (2012 photo)
Reuters
A U.S. senator on Thursday called for early renewal of trade benefits for Africa as part of a broader strategy to counter growing Chinese investment and influence on the continent of nearly one billion people.
       
"America is losing ground and ceding economic opportunities in Africa to competitors,'' Senator Chris Coons, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs, said in a report issued by his office.
       
"China, which has made dramatic inroads across the continent in recent years, may undermine or even counter value-driven U.S. goals in the region, and should serve as a wake-up call for enhanced American trade and investment,'' the Delaware Democrat said.
       
Kenyan Ambassador to the United States Elkanah Odembo underscored that point at a press conference with Coons and U.S. business groups.
       
"Ten years ago, trade between Africa and China was about $15 billion. By the end of this year, it will be about $200 billion. That speaks volumes,'' Odembo said.
       
"Foreign direct investment in the past 10 years has gone from $15 billion to close to $50 billion today ... and a very small proportion of that comes from the United States,'' he said.
       
The United States "probably has a small window in the next couple of years before China, India and Brazil take over all the ownership on the continent and trade relations are theirs to own,'' said Scott Eisner, vice president of African affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
       
"What we need to do is make Africa a national priority'' because countries naturally align themselves politically with other countries that provide investment, said Stephen Hayes, president of the Corporate Council on Africa.
       
Coons urged early renewal of the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which is set to expire in September 2015, and said he hoped a bill could be introduced for Senate Finance Committee consideration by the end of the year.
       
That legislation, first passed by Congress in 2010, waives U.S. duties on African goods to help create jobs in 40 sub-Saharan African countries. Last year, it helped boost total U.S.-African trade to about $110 billion.
       
Coons also recommended revamping the program to encourage countries to take greater advantage of the duty-free treatment.
       
Currently, oil from African producers such as Nigeria and Angola accounts for 88 percent of the value of U.S. imports under the AGOA program.
       
Coons' report also called for the United States to develop a "coherent, integrated strategy'' to improve the business climate on the continent through removing barriers to trade, reducing corruption and enhancing regional economic cooperation.
       
The time is right because Africa is home to at least six of the world's 10 fastest growing economies and increasing business ties would also enhance U.S. national security, Coons said.
       
The International Monetary Fund has forecast the region to grow five percent this year, while the World Bank has said Africa could be "on the brink of an economic takeoff, much like China was 30 years ago and India 20 years ago,'' the report said.
       
Other recommendations included increasing the number of U.S. Foreign Commercial Service officers in sub-Saharan Africa to help companies navigate the business climate.
       
It also called for U.S. agencies like the Export-Import Bank and the Overseas Private Investment Corp to step up activity in the region in support of U.S. exports.
       
The U.S. government should also engage Africans living in the United States in efforts to strengthen ties with the continent, the report said.

You May Like

Video Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Gay-marriage opponents are looking for ways to maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture, one writer says More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.9220
JPY
USD
119.88
GBP
USD
0.6757
CAD
USD
1.2640
INR
USD
62.626

Rates may not be current.