WASHINGTON D.C. – During a colloquy on the Senate floor this evening, U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) encouraged his colleagues to pass job creating legislation by acting on The Increasing American Jobs Through Greater Exports to Africa Act of 2012.
“I think this is a good example of working together in the sense of trying to help our economy. The name of the game right now is jobs, jobs, jobs—and exports mean jobs,” Boozman said. “What we're trying to do is get a plan together to make it such that our small businesses can compete with this huge continent that has so much going for it. With 7 of the 10 top emerging economies coming out of Africa—we are almost doing a disservice to our small businesses by not going forward with this legislation.”
Boozman, the lead Republican sponsor of the bill, joined Senator Christopher Coons (D-DE) and Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) to highlight how this effort would increase America’s competiveness throughout the continent by forcing better coordination between U.S. government agencies and departments, establishing comprehensive strategic goals, and marshaling private investments to improve U.S.-Africa business activities.
Boozman said passage of this bill could yield big dividends for Arkansas’s companies and farmers who export oversees.
“In Arkansas, we already export $5.6 billion in merchandise. One of the ways that we are going to climb out of the economic doldrums that we're in and create jobs is going to be through exports. And certainly this gives us an opportunity,” Boozman said.
Competing with China, which already has a foothold in many of these emerging African markets, was a point that was brought up on multiple occasions during the colloquy.
“Africa is developing a healthy middle class. This is something new they haven't seen before. And, they're hungry for American products,” Boozman said. “This bill challenges us to increase exports to Africa by 200 percent and gives us the incentive and a template for how we do that so we can stop this erosion by the Chinese where they are outdoing us by about 3 to 1.”
The tools available to the United States to competitively compete in Africa are scattered, difficult to access, and not effectively coordinated. The Durbin-Boozman-Coons bill will force a coordinated focus on increasing exports to Africa by making the following improvements:
- Develop a comprehensive strategy to create American jobs by increasing exports of US goods and services to Africa by at least 200 percent in real dollar value over the next ten years.
- Create a Special White House Africa Strategy coordinator to ensure government agencies are maximizing resources to help U.S. companies expand into African markets.
- Coordinate the Export-Import Bank, State Department, Department of Commerce, Small Business Administration, Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee efforts to more effectively promote U.S. business exports to Africa.
- Establish and or maintain Export Import Bank and Department of Commerce trade staff full time on the African continent to help U.S. businesses.
- Formalize training received by U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service officers and Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development economic officer on key programs and procedures of the Export-Import Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the Small Business Administration, and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency.
- Raise limits on Export Import Bank loans available to U.S. businesses to directly combat Chinese concessional loans. This proposal is revenue-neutral as the Export-Import Bank is a profitable, self-financing agency.
- Further Overseas Private Investment Corporation’s efforts to foster U.S. business access to African markets. This provision is also revenue-neutral as OPIC is a profitable self-financing agency.
A similar bill has also been introduced in the House of Representatives.