Rush Introduces H.R. 656, The African Investment and Diaspora Act of 2011, with Two African Ambassadors Marking the Occasion
WASHINGTON –– Today, U. S. Rep. Bobby L. Rush (D-IL) re-introduced "The African Investment and Diaspora Act of 2011" (AIDA), a bill that’s designed to further strengthen the trade relationship between the United States and Africa.
"I am re-introducing this important trade legislation as I believe it represents the legislative affirmation of the strong and growing trade relationship between the United States and the nations on the continent of Africa," said Rush who serves as the Ranking Member of the Energy and Power Subcommittee as is co-chair of the Africa Partnership for Economic Growth Caucus (APEGc).
"I am proud to re-introduce a piece of legislation that has captured the hearts and minds of thousands of men and women in several African nations, as well as entrepreneurs and business leaders in Africa, in the United States and in other parts of the Diaspora. This legislation seeks to further expand the opportunities for mutual trade and investment between our nation and the people of Africa. This day also marks a milestone for me and tens of thousands of people in our country who were part of the anti-apartheid movement in the years leading up to the release of Madiba Nelson Mandela 21 years ago, today, on February 11, 1990. I will work diligently with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to move this legislation into law as I strongly believe it is in the best interests of the United States and Africa that our relationship moves from that of charitable dependency to economic inter-dependency."
Looking on at this important moment in history were Her Excellency Amina Salum Ali, the permanent representative to the African Union in the United States, and South Africa’s Ambassador to the United States, His Excellency Ebrahim Rasool. In response to today’s bill introduction, Ambassador Ali said, "The introduction of the African Investment and Diaspora Act of 2011 is historic legislation that I was privileged to see introduced, today, by one of America’s leading civil rights leaders. This bill is an important and timely development for the African Union both in terms of charting a new paradigm for strengthening U.S.-Africa relations in the 21st century and, specifically, helping to harness the Global African Diaspora to work in partnership with the continent."
In a like manner, Ambassador Rasool said, "AIDA marks the first step towards unleashing Africa’s vast potential through win-win trade and investment opportunities. This bill mirrors the spirit of the common history and destiny shared between the USA and Africa. We commend Congressman Rush for this critical initiative and look forward to continued collaboration that will lead up to the Global African Diaspora Summit, which will be hosted by South Africa in 2012."
On the day Rush introduced this legislation in the 111th Congress, he noted that in today’s economy African countries represent promising export destinations for American products because they possess untapped human and natural resources with the added distinction of representing some of the world’s fastest growing economies. At the same time, the African Diaspora constitutes a growing economic force for the U.S economy, including African immigrants who have some of the highest levels of education compared to other immigrant populations.
"Given the level of expertise that’s available throughout the entire African Diaspora, mobilizing even a small fraction of that capacity would spark increased participation and, I believe, spirited competition among the best and brightest entrepreneurs from diverse industries not only for the economic benefits but also the opportunity to be the first to introduce or develop a diverse array of essential or innovative industries to a nation that already has strong ties in place with the people of the United States," said Rush. "These benefits and more, I believe, represent this century’s new frontier for those entrepreneurs who dare to dream and are willing to engage with the people of Africa in mutually beneficial and respectful terms."
Key provisions of H.R. 656 "The African Investment and Diaspora Act of 2011" include the following:
• Expresses the sense of Congress that the U.S. should continue to support efforts to foster socio-economic development and economic growth in Africa by:
––pursuing efforts to increase collaboration among United States government departments and agencies in order to more closely integrate and coordinate U.S. programs and policies aimed at promoting trade and investment with Africa;
––fostering United States public-private partnerships and other investments in Africa; and––supporting and fostering citizen-led efforts to form business, technical, academic and socio-cultural ties with Africans and supporting the efforts of all Americans and groups with interests and ties to Africa.
• Creates a U.S. Special Representative for U.S.-Africa Trade, Development and Diaspora Affairs within the Department of State and recommends that this position serve as the head of an interagency working group whose mission would include convening a permanent, interagency United States-Africa Trade and Development Consultative Action Group.
• Establishes five, regional centers to serve the northeastern, southern, plains, Midwest, western and northwestern regions of the continental United States with headquarters in cities with the highest proportion of African Diaspora residents
• Recommends the creation of a report to Congress on the impact of this act on trade investments and job creation in the United States and Africa and the impact of the role of the African Diaspora in the United States in improving United States-Africa trade relations and economic development progress in Africa.
WASHINGTON, D.C. –– Her Excellency Amina Salum Ali, the permanent representative to the African Union in the United States, joins U. S. Rep. Bobby L. Rush, center, and His Excellency Ebrahim Rasool, South Africa’s Ambassador to the United States, outside the House chamber a few minutes after Rush introduced H.R. 656, The African Investment and Diaspora Act of 2011. Ali and Rasool are holding commemorative receipts that bear Rush’s signature as a memento to their having witnessed Rush’s re-introduction of this important trade legislation.