22 March 2012

Africa: H.R. 4221 The Increasing American Jobs Through Greater Exports to Africa 2012

Photo: Tami Hultman/allAfrica.com
The cargo ship transports 69,000 tons.

Today, U.S. Rep. Bobby L. Rush (D-IL) is proud to join with U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) in the introduction of bipartisan legislation entitled, The Increasing American Jobs through Greater Exports to Africa Act of 2012 [Download Summary] .

The bill will help to enhance America's business positioning throughout the continent of Africa by improving communication and coordination between U.S. government agencies and departments. It will establish clear cut strategic goals, and help create an environment that encourages private investment.

"This bill is the right bill for these challenging economic times." Rep. Rush said. "The US has talked for too long about Africa as the next trade and investment frontier. Meanwhile, American businesses are facing serious competition in continental African markets. We now have a tremendous opportunity to build mutually beneficial policies that create jobs and economic growth on both continents. Sub-Saharan Africa, in particular comprises some of the fastest growing economies in the world.

Over the next five years, 7 of the world's 10 fastest-growing economies will come from this region. In 2008, Africa's purchasing power reached $860 billion with a projection to grow upwards of $1.4 trillion in the next 10 years."

The bill, including language from H.R.656--The African Investment and Diaspora Act of 2011, that was introduced by Rush last year, is designed to help position American investors to benefit from the economic growth that Africa now experiences.

"For a long time, Africa has been portrayed only as a continent riddled with war, dictatorship, poverty, and disease. " Rush said. "The true story of its country-by-country reawakening and revival, the story of many great successes remains untold. This legislation will help to change those misguided perceptions and foster a greater understanding among U.S. business and financial communities of the opportunities that exist throughout Africa.

Other noted and recognized commentators on US-Africa trade and commercial relations immediately supported the introduction of Rep. Smith and Rush's legislation. Stephen Hayes, the President and CEO, Corporate Council on Africa made the following comments: "Africa has never been more important to the US economy than it is now. The opportunities in the African marketplace are growing daily, and if the American private sector, working with our Government, does not take advantage of these opportunities jobs will be lost for American workers and manufacturers to those countries that do already understand the value of the American marketplace. The American product is highly respected throughout the fifty-four nations of Africa and we must be able to compete. To be able to compete we must have a far more active and greater presence throughout the continent."

Rosa Whitaker, President and CEO of the Whitaker Group also commented. Whitaker served as the First Assistant Trade Representative on Africa. "There are several US government agencies with similar mandates to support US investment in Africa - OPIC, Ex-Im, Department of Commerce - but our experience on the ground in Africa suggests that a more harmonized, coherent approach is necessary to give US companies a leading edge. Africa is now widely recognized as one of the last true "frontier markets", and this bill will provide US companies with much-needed support to seize opportunities in these markets."

Liesl Riddle, PhD, Associate Dean for MBA Programs and Associate Professor of International Business and International Affairs, School of Business, George Washington University commented: "Diaspora investment catalyzed China and India into emerging market status. Today African diasporans in the United States are seeking ways to invest in Africa to further economic and social development across the Continent. Passage of this bill will provide many of the tools necessary to successfully channel the Diaspora's potential for development into Africa, while creating American jobs and opportunity in some of the fastest growing markets of the twenty-first century"

Harry C. Alford, President/CEO National Black Chamber of Commerce, Inc, said: "This bill gets 100% support from the National Black Chamber of Commerce, Inc. Not only is it great with the opportunities it presents; it is overdue. We are playing "catch up in Africa and tools like this are just what we need. Also, there are more than 200 million people of African Descent (members of the African Diaspora) who are poised to interact with Africa via trade and investment. This bill, if enacted will encourage them to become more active."

In closing, Rep Rush said, "Our bill will help reduce non-trade barriers, encourage regional integration of African countries, increase U.S exports, and positively affect United States trade, export and labor initiatives. Furthermore, passage of this legislation will ensure that U.S. policy is contributing meaningfully to the positive transformation of Africa, enabling it to progress towards full integration into the twenty-first century world economy - not only as a supplier of raw materials and resources but as full participants in international supply and distribution chains."

Companion bill has been introduced in the U.S. Senate

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