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

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.9247
JPY
USD
118.78
GBP
USD
0.6657
CAD
USD
1.2190
INR
USD
62.395

Rates may not be current.