By Lara Bangs
IGD is closely following the “Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development” Act of 2018 that aims to establish the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (IDFC). Members of the IGD Frontier Leader Network have been championing support of the bill and are urging swift passage of pending legislation on Capitol Hill. The Committee on Foreign Relations held a hearing on May 10, 2018, where several prominent economists and experts on African economic development testified on behalf of the passage of the Act.
This initiative, which is coordinated by the Executive and Legislative branches, was included in the Fiscal Year 2019 budget proposed by the White House. By consolidating OPIC and aspects of USAID, many advocates believe that the IDFC will be a “super” OPIC and will create much needed economic growth and help U.S. businesses to efficiently invest in emerging markets.
In July, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, is expected to travel with a high-level U.S. delegation to four African countries — Ethiopia, Kenya, Cote d’Ivoire, and Ghana. The President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business on Africa (PAC-DBIA) recently submitted a report identifying some of the pressing obstacles for U.S. businesses attempting to enter the African market. The recommendations put forth by the PAC-DBIA on April 18, 2018, will provide the basis for Secretary Ross’s fact finding trip this summer in efforts to strengthen U.S. exports and trade with African countries. While the Secretary’s official agenda has not been released, the delegation will include both U.S. government representatives and Council members that will work in country on moving their recommendations forward. Recommendations vary by country, but include priorities such as; enhanced bilateral trade engagement; improved identification and publication of AfDB market intelligence; and modernized customs facilities, systems, and processes.
Many U.S. government agencies are increasingly seeing the mutual economic benefits of strong trade and investment ties to the continent. These viewpoints are evident through various tours and trade missions hosted by government organizations for U.S. businesses to highlight the opportunities in Africa. The IGD U.S. Roadshow Tour showcased the immense potential in key growth sectors and partnered with many government agencies to promote increasing strong business ties with the continent.
By continuing to change the narrative on doing business in Africa and supporting legislation like the BUILD Act, IGD continues to support the African private sector voice among U.S. policymakers in Washington, DC. While we await the confirmation of leadership positions such as Sean Cairncross as CEO of the MCC, IGD will expand its advocacy for strong U.S. economic policies that favor increased U.S. investment in Africa.
Lara Bangs is IGD Manager of Special Events and Programs.