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U.S. Export Agency doubles Africa offices to help boost trade

by Business News Report

The U.S. Commercial Service, the export promotion arm of the Department of Commerce, doubled its presence in Africa over the past year to boost trade with some of the world’s fastest growing economies.
The agency opened offices in Angola, Ethiopia, Mozambique and Tanzania in the past 12 months and is planning its biggest-ever trade mission to sub-Saharan Africa in September, Donald Nay, a regional senior commercial officer, said in an e-mailed response to questions.
U.S. companies have faced increasing competition from China in Africa over the past decade as the Asian nation targeted the continent for oil and other mineral resources. Chinese trade with Africa amounted to $174 billion in 2013, more than double that of the U.S., which was Africa’s biggest trading partner five years earlier.
“President Obama believes that sub-Saharan Africa can be the world’s next major economic success story that offers enormous opportunities for American companies,” Nay, who is based in Johannesburg, said. “There’s opportunity for many U.S. companies, big and small.”
Sub-Saharan Africa’s economy is forecast by the International Monetary Fund to expand 4.9 percent this year, the fastest growing region after developing Asia.

The U.S. agency has had offices in South Africa, Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria for more than two decades. It also supports embassies in 21 African countries where it doesn’t have offices.
The Trade Winds Business Development Conference will take place in South Africa in September, with the agency seeking to have more than 100 American companies participate, Nay said. U.S. retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and YUM! Brands Inc., have operations in Africa that they are expanding.
American and Chinese executives have done battle over contracts for mining concessions and railway projects in Africa and in some instances shared the spoils. South Africa’s state-owned transport company, Transnet Soc Ltd., split a $4.7 billion contract for 1,064 locomotives in March last year between China’s CNR Rolling Stock and CSR Zhuzhou Electric Locomotive, Canada’s Bombardier Inc. and General Electric Co., based in the U.S.

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