A bill to increase U.S. exports to Africa was introduced today by Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights.
The "Increasing American Jobs Through Greater Exports to Africa Act of 2012" is intended to stimulate U.S. bilateral trade with Africa and boost American exports to Africa by 200 percent within 10 years. Smith is joined in this bipartisan legislation by Congressman Bobby Rush (IL-01), who has supported similar trade legislation.
"For the past decade, the United States has pursued the expansion of African exports to the United States under the African Growth and Opportunity Act, but that legislation was designed to be more mutually beneficial to businesspeople on both sides of the Atlantic than it has been," Smith said. "This legislation is aimed at facilitating small and medium enterprises in the United States to increase their exports to Africa. This will stimulate U.S. job creation and provide needed goods and services to African businesses and consumers."
African officials have long encouraged American entrepreneurs to sell more of their products to Africa, such as irrigation equipment and other agricultural equipment and supplies. Such sales would not only increase jobs in the United States by expanding production for an expanding market, but it would allow African agricultural producers, for example, to become more efficient and productive.
According to the U.S. International Trade Administration, the United States is the world's largest importer of African goods, receiving 20.2 percent of the continent's total global exports. However, U.S. exports to fell sharply during the height of the global recession. From 2008 to 2009, U.S. exports to Africa dropped 45 percent from $78.3 billion to $42.8 billion. Various studies show that every additional $1 billion in exports generates 6,000-7,000 new jobs.
The new bill, H.R. 4221, encourages members of the African Diaspora to increase their involvement in U.S.-Africa trade. Small and medium-sized businesses in the United States accounted for 60 percent of U.S. exports in 2010, and traditional and recent members of the African Diaspora are most evident in these categories. This new legislation calls for not less than 25 percent of available trade financing through the U.S. Export-Import Bank to be used for U.S.-Africa projects, especially small and medium-sized businesses.