Trade Subcommittee hearing on strengthening the US-Africa trade and investment relationship

Wednesday, 17 November 2021 ~ Ways and Means

(As prepared for delivery)

Date: Wednesday, November 17, 2021 - 11:00am

Chairman Blumenauer opening statement:

Today’s hearing is the next step in this Committee’s ongoing work on the U.S. – Africa trade and investment relationship. 

We met with the President of Kenya as well as Kenya’s Ambassador to the United States to discuss trade matters.  And, recently, we led congressional engagement with African trade ministers during this year’s AGOA forum.  

I would like to begin by noting that the Ways and Means Committee is committed to the U.S. – Africa trade and investment relationship. 

And as you’ll hear from my friend Vern Buchanan, that is a bipartisan commitment.  

Strengthening our trade relationship with Africa has bipartisan support, in part because of our longstanding social, cultural, and political ties with the African continent.  As President Obama noted when he spoke before the African Union in 2015, Africa and its people helped shape America and allowed it to become the great nation that it is.  

We know that the vestiges of colonialism have stifled Africa’s economy and robbed its citizenry of self-determination.

Which is why we are committed to ensuring that our trade and investment policies spur inclusive and durable economic development both in Africa and the U.S.  

We want to make sure that the benefits of trade and investment flow to everyone, not a select few, regardless of their station in life.

This committee has been in the driver’s seat when it comes to advancing and thinking creatively about U.S. trade policy with the African continent.  AGOA – the cornerstone of U.S. economic engagement with sub-Saharan Africa – is a product of this committee.

Before AGOA, the U.S. economic relationship with sub-Saharan Africa focused on aid.  AGOA transitioned our engagement with sub-Saharan Africa to a relationship that, in addition to an aid component, includes trade arrangements.  Initially, some were skeptical of that transition. That was over 20 years ago.  

Today, AGOA is a success story – it has opened new opportunities for economic engagement and has resulted in tens of thousands of jobs in sub-Saharan Africa.  The success of AGOA is a powerful demonstration of the linkage between trade and economic development.  

The success of AGOA reflects the evolution of the African continent over the last 20 years.  Today, Africa as a whole, is more prosperous, more developed, and better connected to the global economy.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, some of the fastest growing economies in the world were in Sub-Saharan Africa—and we’re begging to see that growth return.  And looking ahead, Africa is expected to grow significantly.  Africa’s middle class is projected to grow to more than one billion people. 

But as proud as we are of AGOA’s achievements, it has not achieved all that we have hoped.  AGOA countries continue to face serious challenges posed by sharpening global competitiveness. 

We are at an inflection point in our economic relationship with the African continent.  Although AGOA has been successful under certain metrics, it is important to recognize its limitations and shortcomings.  While some countries have benefitted relatively well, others have been left behind, especially the least developed countries.

In this regard, today we’ll hear from our witnesses on how America’s presence in the African market has eroded for the last decade. Why? Because we’re not leading.  

In contrast, other partners – such as the European Union and Great Britain – have recently held summits designed to deepen commercial ties with African nations. 

I’m interested in hearing from our witnesses their assessment of AGOA and ideas about how we can strengthen our trade and investment relationship with sub-Saharan Africa, and create opportunities in both African and American markets. 

Done right, trade can be a powerful driver for good-paying, quality jobs, and sustainable economic development.  I’m confident we can achieve those goals.

With that, I’ll conclude my opening remarks. 

Let me now yield to my friend, Ranking Member Buchanan.  Vern, you are recognized for five minutes for your opening statement.


>> Watch proceedings on the video stream below. 

View related news articles

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman asks US trade commission to investigate impact of AGOA program

Today, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA) sent a letter to U.S. International Trade Commission (Commission) Chairman Jason E. Kearns requesting that the Commission initiate a fact-finding investigation on the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), a trade program that fosters economic development in the countries of sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Chairman Neal’s request reflects deep interest among members of the...

19 January 2022

Senator Van Hollen, Representative Bass urge Biden Administration to reconsider Ethiopia's suspension from AGOA

Today, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-Calif.) urged President Biden to reconsider his Administration’s November 2, 2021 decision to terminate Ethiopia’s designation as a beneficiary country under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) at the end of this year. As the lawmakers note in their letter (download a copy at the link alongside), this decision will hurt the nation’s most vulnerable...

23 December 2021

'US pledges to revamp neglected relationship with Africa'

President Joe Biden’s top envoy signaled the U.S.’s intent to revitalize its long-neglected relations with Africa, where it has steadily been losing influence to China and other global powers. “Too many times, the countries of Africa have been treated as junior partners –- or worse –- rather than equal ones,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a speech Friday in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital. “We want to make your...

19 November 2021

The United States and Africa: Building a 21st Century Partnership (Speech by Secretary Blinken)

Speech by Anthony J. Blinken, Secretary of StateEconomic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)Abuja, NigeriaNovember 19, 2021 SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Good morning, everyone.  Thank you very much, Vice President Koroma.  Thank you for the very kind introduction, but thank you especially for your leadership here at ECOWAS – not just today, but every single day.  And it’s very good to be here at ECOWAS, which makes...

19 November 2021

Proceedings from the US-Kenya bilateral strategic dialogue

Joint Statement on the Second Kenya-U.S. Bilateral Strategic Dialogue The Governments of the Republic of Kenya and the United States of America held the second session of the Kenya – United States Bilateral Strategic Dialogue in Nairobi on November 17, 2021.  Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs Ambassador Raychelle Omamo and U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken discussed strengthening the strategic partnership across all...

17 November 2021

Two US Senate, House Republicans urge Ethiopia to 'correct coure' to avert 'revocation of AGOA benefits'

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Michael McCaul (R-Texas), issued a statement (see text below) expressing their “hope that the Ethiopian government can correct course and avert a revocation of AGOA benefits.” The statement came as the Biden Administration is expected to announce its decision on Ethiopia’s eligibility to continue to...

27 October 2021

US-Africa trade policy faces future uncertainties

US trade policy toward Africa is facing a conundrum. Much has changed in the two decades since the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) set the framework for trade between the world's largest economy and its poorest continent. Many observers advocate new policies to increase U.S.-Africa trade and investment, especially with Agoa expiring in 2025. Yet the policy path is less clear than when Agoa became law, and the prospects for a...

21 September 2021

Kenya: 'Uhuru–Blinken talks a breath of life to US trade deal'

Trade talks between Kenya and the US could resume soon following Tuesday's virtual meeting between President Uhuru Kenyatta and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. This is after a five-month break occasioned by change of g-uard in the US as President Joe Biden took over from Donald Trump after last November’s elections. The settling down of the Biden administration put foreign trade negotiations and policies on hold, which included...

29 April 2021

Opinion: A bipartisan legacy of Africa trade worth remembering

In a White House ceremony twenty years ago this week, former U.S. President Bill Clinton signed into law the African Growth and Opportunity Act. While AGOA hasn’t met all of its lofty goals, this trade legislation has helped lift many Africans out of poverty.   Today, with the global economy bordering on coronavirus-sparked turmoil and African economies bracing for great damage, it’s worth considering AGOA’s past and future,...

18 May 2020

Republican Ed Royce’s respectful interest in Africa will be missed

Over the past quarter century, few members of the US Congress have taken a more serious, supportive or politically brave interest in Africa than Republican Ed Royce, now chairman of the house foreign affairs committee and for many years previously its Africa subcommittee. None would be less likely than this frequent visitor to use barnyard epithets to describe the continent or its people. Earlier in January, the Orange County, California,...

19 January 2018