On Thursday, December 6, 2018, CCA launched its new High-Level Dialogue Series! This new event series will be held in Washington D.C. and exclusively feature senior American and African government as well as private sector officials discuss the latest U.S.-Africa trade and investment policies, trends, and developments.
U.S. Representative Ed Royce inaugurated the Corporate Council on Africa’s High-Level Dialogue with a vibrant session discussing his vision for the U.S. and Africa's economic and political relationship as he retires from Congress. He began by telling the packed room that he was delighted to see so many old friends who had testified at the first hearings he held 19 years ago to talk about launching the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). The Chairman noted AGOA has accomplished a lot, arguing that it has been a force for good in strengthening the rule of law and encouraging civil society, as well as tripling trade between the U.S. and Africa.
Looking to the future, the Chairman was very pleased to have helped pass the BUILD Act, which will be a force multiplier in standing up the U.S. Development Finance Corporation. He was particularly pleased that DFC will be able to lend in local currency, and take equity stakes in positions, which in turn will bring private sector capital with it.
In the question and answer session, Chairman Royce was asked what can be done to help get the word out to African companies, all too many of whom don’t seem to be fully aware of the potential to ship more than 6000 goods duty-free to the U.S. over AGOA’s almost 7 remaining years of eligibility. Chairman Royce thought that the Trade Hubs could do more to help get the word out, including using the internet. He also thought that Congressional delegations could do more to highlight the program on their trips to the continent.
Chairman Royce stressed repeatedly that one of the best things about AGOA is that it helps justify greater regional economic integration in Africa, as well as liberalization of African trade policies and markets, both of which in turn help encourage more businesses to invest and grow. In this regard, he stressed the importance of creating regional value chains, and noted that he has a different view than USTR on the wisdom of pursuing a bilateral FTA with one country, versus trying to encourage greater integration. That said, he also agreed that it is critical to persuade African countries to reduce barriers to two-way trade and encouraged them to think about how they could help create a level playing field vis-à-vis some of American companies’ greatest competitors, such as European companies, which rely on the tariff concessions in the Economic Partnership Agreements.
The Chairman was also asked about China’s influence in Africa. He opined that China is selling a different idea than the U.S. on several important issues, including the value and stability of open and democratic societies, independent courts, and sole source contracts. Chairman Royce argued forcefully that African countries would enter a developmental ‘cul de sac’ if they decided to move to a model of having one person make all the important decisions, undercutting decades of work to develop greater economic empowerment.
Rep. Royce has played a pivotal role in U.S.-Africa relations. As the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Africa, Rep. Royce led bipartisan efforts to support African growth and development and spur greater U.S.-Africa trade and investment through a range of initiatives and laws, including improved wildlife management in Africa, the African Growth and Opportunity Act, and the Electrify Africa Act among others.