Africa Center Visiting Fellow Aubrey Hruby writes for CQ Roll Call on competing with China in the African market:
Extending the African Growth and Opportunity Act, set to lapse on Sept. 30, 2015, will enable the U.S. to maintain a competitive edge against China in the rapidly expanding African market.
The passage of AGOA in 2000 marked a major innovation in U.S.-Africa relations — it was the first step in showing that Africa was not just an aid destination but a respected trading partner. The driving vision of the legislation was one of mutual prosperity. The strategic intent was to spur job creation and improve governance and to make Africa a more attractive market for U.S. businesses. Over the last fourteen years, AGOA has become the cornerstone of the U.S.-African commercial relationship.
In the competition for African opportunities, job creation is the U.S. strategic advantage. We are not going to finance infrastructure the same way that China does, we are not going to provide direct budget support to African governments like the Europeans do, but we can help African countries create broad based economic growth that benefits everyone. Fifty percent of Africans are under the age of 15, and 60 percent of youth are unemployed. Successful job creation will determine which countries remain stable, develop dynamic economies and grow a vibrant middle class that will purchase American products.