Biden seeks to rebuild US ties with Africa

Washington, Dec 14 (EFE).- United States President Joe Biden announced here Wednesday a set of measures aimed at assisting African nations in areas such as trade, internet connectivity and climate change in a bid to rebuild ties with the continent after years of neglect.

He spoke at the US-Africa Business Forum, part of a three-day gathering that has brought 49 African heads of state and government to Washington.

“The United States is all in on Africa’s future,” the president said in a speech that contrary to expectations, had no mention of China, which has become the continent’s leading trade partner and has devoted years to cultivating good relations with the region’s governments.

Biden hopes to use the summit to thaw the chill that descended on the relationship during the administration of Donald Trump, who named several African nations along with Haiti and El Salvador in an outburst about immigrants from “sh-thole countries.”

He recalled the first US-Africa Leaders Summit, hosted in 2014 by President Barack Obama.

“Holding the first-of-its-kind summit in 2014 was a watershed moment to cement new kinds of partnerships between our nations, partnerships not to create political obligation, not – or foster dependence – its dependence, but to spur shared success – I emphasize shared success – and opportunity. Because when Africa succeeds, the United States succeeds; quite frankly, the whole world succeeds as well,” said Biden, who was Obama’s vice president.

The most significant initiative announced Wednesday was Washington’s signing a memorandum of understanding with the new African Continental Free Trade Area Secretariat.

“We’re finally implementing the African Continental Free Trade Area. It will represent one of the largest free trade areas in the world, 1.3 billion people, and a continent-wide market totaling $3.4 trillion,” Biden said.

He went on to tout an accord between the Millennium Challenge Corporation, a US aid agency, and the governments of Benin and Niger that calls for an investment of $500 million to facilitate and expedite transportation of goods from the Port of Cotonou (Benin) to neighboring landlocked countries.

“Today, I’m announcing that the US International Development Finance Corporation is investing nearly $370 million in new projects” intended to enhance food security in Africa and expand use of renewable energy, among other goals. EFE bpm/dr

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