With China’s growing influence in Africa, the Biden administration is launching a new initiative to expand business links between American companies and the African continent.
A senior U.S. official said that the Biden administration will announce a new initiative on Tuesday to expand business ties between U.S. companies and Africa, with a focus on building the digital, health, and physical infrastructure needed on the continent.
U.S. industry executives welcomed this interest, but said that until the Biden administration ends its long-term review of the Trump administration’s trade measures and formulates a clear LNG investment policy, the flow of dollars will lag.
Dana Banks, senior director of African affairs at the White House National Security Council, will launch the U.S.-Africa Business Summit, promising to “reimagine” and revitalize Africa’s prosperity, an initiative launched by the Trump administration in 2018.
She said that President Joe Biden requested nearly $80 million for the program in his May budget proposal, which aims to focus the program on women and equity and expand the role of small and medium-sized enterprises.
Banks said that the government’s goal is to “rejuvenate and prosper Africa and make it the core of America’s economic and commercial contacts with Africa”, and will announce more details in a supporting plan called “Digital Africa” soon.
“This is a priority area at home and abroad,” Banks said, adding that African countries are eager to expand cooperation with the United States and its companies.
U.S. corporate executives warned that the U.S. is in danger of being overtaken by China and Europe, which have already invested and concluded trade agreements across the continent.
“We can’t wait another year to formulate Africa policy; we need to think boldly,” said Scott Eisner, chairman of the U.S.-Africa Business Center of the American Chamber of Commerce.
Eisner said that in view of the Trump administration’s negotiations with Kenya on a bilateral free trade agreement, many companies have begun to pay attention to investment in Kenya, but these plans have been at a standstill until Biden’s review of the policy is completed.
The Office of the United States Trade Representative did not immediately comment on the status of the review.
Another obstacle is the uncertainty of the government’s policy on liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects.
Nigeria and other countries are eager to get US investment in such programs, but are waiting to see whether the government will support LNG investment while seeking to halve US fossil fuel emissions.
Under Biden’s leadership, U.S. LNG exports surged. Experts said that to achieve Biden’s goal of halving fossil fuel emissions, the United States will need to stop building natural gas power plants and export liquefied natural gas.
Biden’s policy is energy-neutral, and government officials are tight-lipped about any specific plans for LNG investment. The U.S. Development Finance Corporation did not immediately comment on its policy of supporting LNG projects.