Why Can’t America Do Investment Promotion in Africa like China (or Canada?)

By Ben Leo (Center for Global Development)

This August, President Obama will host 47 African Heads of State in Washington. The agenda will focus heavily on promoting greater trade and investment ties between the US and the region’s fast growing economies. Amongst other things, this emphasis will play a critical role for the Obama Administration’s Power Africa Initiative and plans for modernizing the African Growth and Opportunity Act.

As US policymakers scramble for summit deliverables, they should consider what China has done on the investment promotion front over the last two decades. Beijing has signed investment treaties with 24 African countries, including 15 out of the largest 20 regional economies. Once all of these agreements are ratified, China will have legally binding agreements covering almost 80 percent of Sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP.

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