Durbin, Shaheen, Boozman Applaud Committee Passage Of Bipartisan Bill To Increase U.S. Exports To Africa

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and John Boozman (R-AR), today announced that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) advanced their bipartisan legislation to improve America’s competiveness throughout the African continent and in Latin America and the Caribbean. The Increasing American Jobs through Greater Exports to Africa Act will force better coordination between U.S. government agencies and departments, establish comprehensive strategic goals, counter anticompetitive measures by China, and marshal private investments to improve U.S. exports to Africa.  The amendment advanced by Senator Shaheen expanded the bill to also focus on Latin America and the Caribbean.  The bill will help create American jobs by requiring a whole of government strategy to increase the number of U.S. exports to Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean by at least 200 percent in real dollar value within ten years of enactment of the law. 

“Despite the strong demand for American products and services, China and others have been busy building markets on the African continent and with our neighbors in Latin America and the Caribbean, and the U.S. is being left behind,” Durbin said.  “Our bipartisan bill helps American businesses compete against anticompetitive actions taken by China, create jobs at home, and help ensure America continues to be seen as a leader in rapidly growing and dynamic parts of the world. I’m glad the Senate Foreign Relations Committee advanced this bill on a bipartisan basis.”

“Maintaining U.S. global leadership and an economic competitive edge over China is critical to our domestic and foreign policy priorities. That’s why I’m very pleased that my bipartisan amendment with Senators Durbin and Boozman cleared the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this afternoon and is moving forward in Congress,” said Shaheen, who led the amendment and is a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “Importantly, this amendment calls for a dedicated U.S. export strategy to help countries in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean develop stronger and healthier economies. This critical investment in U.S. trade to support developing nations aims to counter China’s manipulative trade influence and bolster American job creation.”

“Passage of this provision by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee moves us one step closer to implementing a strategy for increasing American products, as well as further promoting our ideals, to our partners in Africa,” Boozman said. “This approach is necessary to counter China’s growing influence on the African continent in addition to providing U.S. companies with increased access to this vibrant market.” 

From 2008 to 2019, China alone provided more than $462 billion in loans to the developing world, and, in 2009, China surpassed the United States as the leading trade partner of African countries.  Similarly, China has also become Latin America’s top trading partner.   In fact, China’s export finance activity is larger than all the other export credit agencies in the Group of 7 countries combined making China the world’s largest official creditor with a portfolio more than twice the size of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund combined. China’s aggressive investment in Africa and abroad puts American businesses and workers at a disadvantage as key markets are instead filled by foreign companies using low interest government loans. African consumers lose access to high quality American products, and American workers lose important export markets.

The tools available to the United States to compete competitively in Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean are scattered, difficult for businesses to access, and not effectively coordinated.  The Senators’ bipartisan amendment will harmonize the U.S. government’s focus on increasing exports to Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean by making the following improvements:

  • Develop a comprehensive strategy to create American jobs by increasing U.S. goods and services exports to Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean by at least 200 percent in real dollar value over the next ten years;
  • Create a Special White House Africa Strategy coordinators to ensure government agencies work in tandem and maximize resources to help U.S. companies expand into African, Latin American, and Caribbean markets;
  • Encourage greater attention and coordination to African, Latin American, and Caribbean commercial markets by appropriate U.S. government agencies and;
  • Standardize training received by U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service officers and Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development economic officers on key programs and procedures agencies such as the United States International Development Finance Corporation, the Small Business Administration, and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency.