TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

Increased US Investment in Africa Important for US-Africa Relations

Thursday, 20 October 2005

Source: Corporate Council on Africa (Washington, DC)

Speaking before a Congressional Hearing this morning on Capitol Hill, Stephen Hayes, president of the Corporate Council on Africa stressed that while AGOA-the African Growth and Opportunity Act-is working and is critical to growing trade between the U.S. and Africa, a more comprehensive approach is needed to strengthen U.S.-Africa trade and political relations. "U.S. businesses especially have failed to take advantage of new investment opportunities in Africa," says Hayes.

Hayes testified before the House International Relations Committee's Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations. AGOA was signed into law in 2000 to offer tangible trade incentives for African countries that demonstrate growing transparency and improved governance.

Hayes says AGOA is critical to growing and improving trade between the U.S. and Africa. "AGOA is one of the most important pieces of legislation ever enacted on behalf of the U.S.'s relationship with the nations of Africa. Over the past five years, AGOA has presented real opportunities for both U.S. and African businesses."

Total AGOA imports were $26.6 billion in 2004, representing an 88 percent increase from the previous year. Excluding petroleum and related products, AGOA imports were valued at $3.5 billion, a 22 percent increase during the same period. "It is remarkable that so much has been accomplished over such a short period of time," says Hayes. "However, AGOA alone with its market-based approach will not be sufficient to address the economic problems faced by a number of African countries."

Hayes says that the divergent needs of the countries of Africa cannot be met by AGOA alone. "Without adequate infrastructure, skills capacity building, private sector development and continued government reforms, African countries will continue to lag severely behind in the global economy," says Hayes. Despite the challenges, Hayes points to the innumerable trade and investment opportunities in Africa. "U.S. companies have so far failed to capitalize on investment opportunities made possible through AGOA. As a result, we are missing chances to build our relationship with African countries," says Hayes.

CCA proposes greater outreach to state trade agencies in the U.S. , AGOA-training with businesses and partnering with Africans to promote the investment opportunities in their individual countries. "Increased partnerships between the U.S. and African businesses help our economy as much as those of Africa," says Hayes.