“As the United States continues its vital investments in global health, there is also an opportunity for additional investment in the kind of economic statecraft that will facilitate a transition from aid to trade, guaranteeing a higher return on investment for the American taxpayer and better enabling a sustained US government investment.” – Senator Chris Coons, D-Del., “Embracing Africa’s Economic Potential”
I couldn’t agree more with Senator Coons. Coons is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs, and last week he released a welcome report entitled “Embracing Africa’s Economic Potential.”
Global Apparel, Ltd, an apparel manufacturing company in Kenya, exports garments to the US under AGOA – providing much-needed jobs for Kenyans. Photo credit: Morgana Wingard/ ONE.
In the report, Senator Coons lays out the case for an economic engagement policy with Africa that will be beneficial to Americans and Africans alike. As Coons points out, “[T]here is a clear and pressing need for increased US economic engagement in sub-Saharan Africa.
Increased trade facilitates growth for US businesses as well as our African partners, simultaneously strengthening our own economy and Africa’s emerging markets. In addition to creating jobs here at home, investment abroad allows US companies to project American values in critical areas of the world.” The report clearly illustrates the investment potential in Africa.
The report lays out six key recommendations for US policymakers as they consider economic engagement with Africa:
- Support African-led efforts to improve the business climate on the continent and remove barriers to trade;
- Reauthorize and strengthen the African Growth and Opportunity Act well in advance of its 2015 expiration;
- Improve coordination between US government agencies and develop a comprehensive interagency strategy for increased investment in sub-Saharan Africa;
- Increase the presence of US Foreign Commercial Service Officers in sub-Saharan Africa to help US companies navigate the business climate in the region;
- Increase support for agencies that provide financing to encourage US commercial engagement overseas, mitigate investment risks, and generate a profit for American taxpayers; and
- Engage the African diaspora community in the United States to strengthen economic ties.
The recommendations in this report are the type of smart, bipartisan policies that – if implemented properly – would likely produce exciting, quantifiable results. They recognize the huge potential for Africa, and would produce economic opportunities for Americans and Africans. At ONE, we are dedicated to fighting extreme poverty – and we know this will take a lot of smart ideas and committed actors. Reports like this one are a welcome addition to the conversation.