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March 26, 2021

Inhofe, Durbin, Boozman, Booker, Cardin Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Increase U.S. Exports to Africa

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) joined Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) this week to introduce bipartisan legislation to improve America’s competiveness throughout the African continent by forcing better coordination between U.S. government agencies and departments, establishing comprehensive strategic goals, countering anticompetitive measures by China, and marshaling private investments to improve U.S. exports to Africa.  The Increasing American Jobs through Greater Exports to Africa Act will help create American jobs by increasing the number of U.S. exports to Africa by at least 200 percent in real dollar value within ten years of enactment of the law.

“Treating African nations as equal partners for trade is a crucial step forward for both of our relationships with countries across the continent,” Inhofe said. “This bipartisan legislation is the right step to charting a new course in our relationship with Africa from one focused on aid to one that is focused on mutual trade. It would help create American jobs by increasing the number of U.S. exports to Africa and would counter China’s growing influence on the continent.”

“Simply put, despite the strong demand for American products and services, China and others have been busy building markets on the African continent and the U.S. is being left behind,” Durbin said.  “This bipartisan bill will help American businesses compete against anticompetitive actions taken by China in Africa.  It will give American businesses the tools they need to more effectively compete on the continent, create jobs at home, and help ensure America continues to be seen as a leader in a rapidly growing and dynamic part of the world.”

“As Chinese influence rapidly grows in Africa and elsewhere, strengthening trade relationships with our allies is more important than ever. An effective trade strategy with African nations will help us increase jobs here at home and keep us competitive in the global market. This bill will help create and implement a comprehensive approach with the goal of increasing the flow of American products and ideals to our partners in Africa,” Boozman said.

“I’ve heard time and again how consumers around the world, especially in Africa, want more access to U.S. goods and services,” said Booker.  “This bipartisan bill will help American workers by creating more jobs at home, while offering African consumers better options than what they currently have with Chinese and other companies that often operate with substandard labor and environmental practices.”

“As African countries seek to grow their economies, the United States can and should enlarge its trading partnerships for mutual benefit,” said Cardin.  “This bill would strengthen our ties with African countries, counter malign efforts by China to expand its global influence, and enhance U.S. interests by significantly increasing U.S. exports to Africa.”

From 2008 to 2019, China alone provided more than $462 billion in loans to the developing world, and, in 2009, China surpassed the United States as the leading trade partner of African countries.  The Export-Import Bank of the United States reports China’s export finance activity is larger than all the other export credit agencies in the Group of 7 countries combined making China the world’s largest official creditor with a portfolio more than twice the size of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund combined. China’s aggressive investment in Africa and abroad puts American businesses and workers at a disadvantage as key markets are instead filled by foreign companies using low interest government loans. African consumers lose access to high quality American products, and American workers lose important export markets.

The tools available to the United States to compete competitively in Africa are scattered, difficult for businesses to access, and not effectively coordinated.  The bipartisan Increasing American Jobs through Greater Exports to Africa Act will harmonize the U.S. government’s focus on increasing exports to Africa by making the following improvements:

  • Develop a comprehensive strategy to create American jobs by increasing U.S. goods and services exports to Africa by at least 200 percent in real dollar value over the next ten years;
  • Create a Special White House Africa Strategy coordinator to ensure government agencies work in tandem and maximize resources to help U.S. companies expand into African markets;
  • Encourage greater attention and coordination to African commercial markets by appropriate U.S. government agencies;
  • Maintain a reasonable level of U.S. Commercial Foreign Service Officers on the ground in Africa to assist U.S. businesses;
  • Standardize training received by U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service officers and Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development economic officers on key programs and procedures of the Export-Import Bank, the United States International Development Finance Corporation, the Small Business Administration, and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency;
  • Encourage greater Export-Import Bank support to U.S. businesses wanting to compete in Africa to counter Chinese concessional loans; and,
  • Bolster the United States International Development Finance Corporation’s programs to foster U.S. business access to African markets.

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