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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7866
JPY
USD
109.25
GBP
USD
0.6139
CAD
USD
1.1120
INR
USD
61.428

Rates may not be current.