TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

EX-IM bank could spend $1.5billion this year on infrastructure in AGOA countries

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Source: The Southern Times (Southern Africa)

The United States Export-Import Bank could this year spend more than US$1.5 billion on infrastructure development in 37 African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) eligible countries.

US Eximbank executive vice-president and chief operating officer Alice Albright said they were keen to engage in dialogue with the public and private sectorswith emphasis on infrastructure development, mining, aviation and transport.

'As a bank, we have the mandate to assist Sub-Saharan Africa. We will be happy to open discussions with the private sector, to discuss areas such as transport, aviation, power and mining,' she said.

At a teleconference on the forthcoming AGOA Forum from Washington DC on Thursday Albright said they would also be working with the IMF.

'We see ourselves as a tool to help AGOA achieve its goals,' she added.

Since 1999, the bank has been active in projects worth more than US$6 billion in Sub-Saharan Africa.

'For fiscal year ending September 30, 2011 we have supported 132 transactions totaling US$812 million in 20 sub-Sahara countries with total exposure to sub-Sahara Africa at US$3.6 billion and included aircraft purchases, power projects, transportation and various other sectors,' Albright said.

US Eximbank may consider opening a branch in Zambia and other emerging economies as the market has grown significantly in recent years.

However, the currently export demand is minimal and US Eximbank would have to first work to grow this, Albright said.

The bank has few offices in Africa and largely works through American embassies in the continent as well as other co-operating partners.

On whether US Eximbank will participate in the AGOA Forum to be hosted by Zambia from June 9 to 10, Albright said it was difficult to state because of budgetary constraints.

'However, we are confident USA government officials will represent the bank and we are hopeful that they will carry the Eximbank message.'