America’s focus on Africa

2020-06-04T07:44:49+00:00 May 28th, 2020|Finance|

This article was shared with African Mining by Africa Oil Week/Mining Indaba.

The US government’s trade finance arm, the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM), convened a joint meeting on April 14th with their EXIM Advisory Committee and sub-Saharan Africa Advisory Committee (SAAC) to discuss EXIM’s continued implementation of COVID-19 relief measures for US businesses and workers, insurance brokers, foreign buyers of U.S. exports, and financial institutions.

Africa. Image credit: Wikipedia

Africa. Image credit: Wikipedia

EXIM advisory committee chair, Stevan Pearce, and SAAC chair Daniel Runde, co-chaired the virtual public meeting, which was also attended by EXIM president and chairman Kimberly A. Reed and more than 100 public attendee registrants.

Reed said that EXIM remains fully open for its customers and stakeholders during the COVID-19 crisis. EXIM chief banking officer Stephen Renna, senior vice president in the office of Board authorised finance David Sena, and senior vice president of small business Jim Burrows provided the committee with an update on EXIM’s COVID-19 relief measures.

“We greatly appreciate our EXIM advisory committee and sub-Saharan Africa advisory committee members’ insights. During today’s meeting, the committee members provided a variety of suggestions – from simplifying and speeding up small business processes to supporting our US supply chain, to focusing on Africa now and for the long-term, especially when it comes to China. These will be helpful as EXIM focuses on helping our businesses and workers during this very challenging time.”

“These are unprecedented times in this country, but also in the world,” said Pearce during the meeting. “The market is unstable. That does not lend itself to aggressive investments, and it does not lend itself to expansion and reaching new market shares. And that’s where EXIM comes in.”

“EXIM is going to play a key role in supporting our friends and allies during the COVID-19 crisis,” said Runde. “Africa has not felt the full extent of COVID yet and they will experience an economic as well as global health emergency.”

At a March 25 open board meeting, which included ex officio board members US secretary of commerce Wilbur Ross, and US trade representative ambassador Robert Lighthizer, the EXIM board of directors adopted a resolution affirming its support of temporary relief measures including: bridge financing, progress delivery payment financing, supply chain finance guarantees, and working capital guarantee expansions.

EXIM also expedited a change in the fee structure of delegated authority and fast track loans to give small businesses better transparency into the fee structure and to lower the fee rate by an average of 10 basis points.

Earlier this month Reed addressed nearly 70 Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) members, as well as US and African government officials during the first webinar in a new CCA series entitled ‘Navigating the Impact of COVID-19.’

Reed emphasised how EXIM’s historic seven-year reauthorisation, which directs EXIM to establish a ‘Programme on China and Transformational Exports’, uniquely positions EXIM to support US companies as they compete with China to export goods and services to Africa. The programme directs EXIM to advance the comparative leadership of the United States through direct exports to countries in Africa and around the world in key areas.

Reed further highlighted action taken recently by the EXIM board of directors to approve a USD91.5-million renewable energy rural electrification project in Senegal. The project, which will support an estimated 500 US jobs in 14 US states, is expected to bring electricity to approximately 330 000 Senegalese in more than 400 villages, a win-win for an American small business and its workers and the people of Senegal.

Established by Congress, the sub-Saharan Africa Advisory Committee provides guidance and advice regarding EXIM Bank policies and programs designed to support the expansion of financing support for U.S. manufactured goods and services in sub-Saharan Africa.

Committee members advise the Bank on the development and implementation of policies and programmes designed to support EXIM’s engagement in sub-Saharan Africa with a view to boosting American exports and bolstering US jobs.