U.S Chargee-Dana Banks

The Biden  administration has kicked off the Prosper Africa Build Together initiative by requesting $80 million from Congress to build trade and investment relations  between the U.S. and Africa.

U.S. Special Assistant to the President and  Senior Director for Africa at the National Security Council, Dana  L. Banks, briefed  journalists in an online news briefing  on the readiness of the  U.S.  to do business with the continent. The digital press briefing  was hosted by the U.S Department of State’s Johannesburg Media Hub.

“The campaign is a targeted effort to elevate and energize the United States commitment to trade and investment with countries across the African continent under the Biden and Harris administration,” Banks said. “And our goal is to substantially increase two-way trade and investment between the United States and Africa by connecting U.S. and African businesses and investors with tangible deal opportunities.”

On how the U.S intend to increase the two-way trade and investment between the United States and Africa, Banks said  “we will accomplish these goals  by identifying and promoting new opportunities for U.S. and African businesses, investors, and workers that increase trade and mobilize private capital to fuel economic growth and job creation, with a focus on key sectors and the green economy”.

For example, the U.S. Development Finance Corporation, or DFC, committed nearly $2 billion in financing for projects in Africa in the first half of Fiscal Year 2021 and aims to close another $500 million or more by the end of the fiscal year, Banks said.

With the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Banks said America wants to participate in Africa’s growth.

“Africa’s increasing integration into the global markets, demographic boom and the thriving culture of entrepreneurship presents a remarkable opportunity for us to strengthen those economic ties and promote new opportunities for both U.S. and African businesses to fuel economic growth and job creation and greater U.S. participation in Africa’s future,” she said.

On the future of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), Banks said: “I know there is a lot of consternation and concern about the looming legislative end of the AGOA legislation, seeking to sunset in 2025. We’re still having conversations with our colleagues at the U.S. Trade Representative’s office on how we can sort the next chapter of AGOA.

“I think the AfCFTA is one way that we are looking at increasing some of the engagement that we want to see with the continent through a mechanism that was approved by host countries on the continent. So we want to see how we can support that and look at the next level of trade, of a trade relationship with Africa as a bloc but also with individual countries.

“I think that larger countries on the continent have been able to take advantage of AGOA benefits, and some of the – some countries, frankly, have not yet been able to. So I think we need to look at sort of new ways to make sure that our trade relationship with all of Africa, with the entire continent, is one that’s mutually beneficial for all of us.”

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